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Households Fight Climate Change

This guest blog is courtesy of Greenmatch.

Lowering the Domestic Energy Consumption

Recent data from the UK government has shown that global thinking and local action go hand in hand in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The UK is leading the way in slowing down climate change with the help of domestic households - a strategy that is equally applicable in the US.

In the UK, the current amount of electricity generated per person is the lowest since 1984, which has been a key factor in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This decrease has largely been thanks to the use of renewable energy, such as solar panels and domestic heat pumps.

Domestic households in the US up to 21.1%…

Bridging the Data Gap is Essential for Incorporating Sustainable Materials Management into States’ Waste Reduction Models

This guest blog was posted by Ameripen on February 26, 2019.

All waste is not created equal when it comes to calculating environmental impact. It makes sense, yet too often we set waste diversion goals and policies based on a standardized approach. Figuring out how to compare wastes and impacts and accurately measure diversion success is a complex task and frequently debated. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supports use of a Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) framework, which focuses on minimizing resource consumption and adverse environment impacts throughout a material’s lifecycle, from extraction through processing, manufacturing, usage and eventually end-of-life management.

Applying an SMM approach has been one framework to help states explore impact versus diversion, but direction on how to apply it towards goal setting and policy making has been lacking. AMERIPEN sought to fill that gap. We were intrigued by the work of Dr. Tim Townsend at the University of Florida, who developed a model for applying SMM to state based waste characterizations to help set goals and direct policy focus for the State of Florida…

Why a Market-Based Tire Recycling System Shouldn’t Be Scrapped

This guest blog is courtesy of Paul Arellano.

Tire recycling is a mixed industry. There are government regulations that determine how to legally dispose of used tires, yet the system is still largely market-based. There are some who favor greater government control of the tire recycling industry. While it’s true that government regulation is a necessity, a market-based system shouldn’t be scrapped entirely.

Pros and Cons of a Market-Based System

Although a market-based system has its benefits, there is no doubt this industry would look very different without government involvement. Many businesses and individuals would probably choose not to recycle, but rather dispose of their tires in a landfill if there were no penalties for doing so. There might be less of a demand for rubber in the civil engineering industry if the government did not award tire recycling grants.

The current system has seen great success, however, and greater government regulation may not be necessary.

A 90% Success Rate

In…

Deconstruction Blight

This guest blog is courtesy of Mike Gable, Executive Director, Construction Junction, Co-Founder of Project RE_, and President of the Board of BMRA.  

My last post in December, summarized the work being done by Project RE_, a collaboration between the Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS) in the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, Construction Junction, a nonprofit building material reuse retailer in Pittsburgh and a local job training organization called Landforce.  Soon the UDBS meets with a nonprofit neighborhood development corporation to present the house design that Professor John Folan and his students are developing with the added challenge of incorporating some of the material from the solar house deconstruction.  The house design also includes an innovative reuse feature utilizing ultra-high performance concrete panels that are “cast offs” from a local manufacturing facility. The UDBS is also exploring design for deconstruction.

The Lives of Recyclables

This guest blog is courtesy of RoadRunner Recycling. The post was written by Shelby Bell at RoadRunner Recycling.

Have you ever wondered what happens to your materials after they have been tossed in the recycling bin? After collection, each material is set on its own path to become a new product. Some materials can cycle through the process indefinitely, while others can only be recycled a few times before they lose their quality. Continue reading to learn about the recyclables’ journey from the recycling bin back to the shelf.

Cardboard

Did you know, 1 ton of recycled cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil and over 9 cubic yards of landfill space? Cardboard fibers are strong and can break down many times before they lose their quality. Once cardboard travels from your recycling…

Verifying Sustainability at Meaningful Scale: The Landscape Approach

This guest blog is courtesy of GreenBlue and was written by Sarah Crow, Senior Director, Sustainability Solutions, American Forest Foundation

As 2020 approaches, many brand owners and retailers are evaluating their performance and analyzing how they can achieve their sustainability goals for this decade. At the 2018 SPC Advance conference, hosted by The Sustainable Packaging Coalition, sustainability leaders from many different companies discussed the opportunities to demonstrate sustainability and make a difference through their sourcing.

Many companies have set goals to source 100% of the fiber for their packaging, paper, and other materials from recycled, certified, and verified sources. These brands want greater visibility into their sourcing and a means to drive sustainability at scale.

“Mars is excited to be a partner in the development of Forests in Focus. We believe Forests in Focus…

How Much of our Waste is Actually Recyclable?

Environmental Research & Education Foundation.

Check out the infographic!

Since 1995, the amount of commodity recyclables in the waste stream has fallen 10 points from 53% to 43%.

A recent EREF analysis examined the waste management policies set by state/local agencies, such as recycling and diversion goals. EREF found that states across the U.S. have recycling goals ranging from 10% – 50%.

If every item that was capable of being recycled actually was recycled, could these goals be achieved? This concept, applicable to diversion in general, is known as the theoretical maximum recovery.

Disclaimer: Guest blogs represent the opinion of the writers and may not reflect the policy or position of the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.

“Recomposition”: Composting Meets the Death Industry

Here in NERC’s hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont, the local waste hauler collects household food scraps once a week, and delivers them for rendering into compost at our solid waste management district. It’s a trend that’s catching on in many places, and for many reasons; not the least of which are the benefits to soil health that compost brings.

Meanwhile, on farms and ranches, composting on a much larger scale occurs as a station in the cycle of life. When done properly, the composting of animal mortalities is an effective way of dealing with animal carcasses while providing beneficial soil amendments.

For a number of reasons, little thought has traditionally been given to the composting of human remains. But in the State of Washington, that may soon change. State Senator Jamie Pederson has introduced…

The Opportunities of Solar Panel Recycling

This guest blog is courtesy of GreenMatch.

What Happens to PV Panels When Their Life Cycle Ends

The energy industry has been experiencing a radical change and the gradual shift towards renewable energy sourcing is more than evident. Nevertheless, not all that looks sustainable stays that way upon the end of its life cycle. At least that is the most common worry regarding photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. They are a sustainable source of energy, dependant only on solar radiation, and capable of delivering electricity to our homes. However, what happens to solar panels when they fail to perform efficiently? Explore their journey through the recycling process in the infographic below:

The Lifetime of Solar Panels

How long do solar panels last? A question that most people have in mind when considering solar panels. According to studies, the life…

It’s Time to Get Toxic Chemicals Out Of Dry Cleaning

Today’s Guest Blog is by Steve Whittaker and Ashley Pedersen with the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County, Washington. The article was originally posted in Environmental Health News on December 13, 2018.

Perchloroethylene, a probable human carcinogen, remains the most frequently-used solvent for dry cleaning. It's time to help the industry change—and our county is doing just that.

When perchloroethylene (PERC) was introduced to the dry cleaning industry in the 1930s, it must have seemed like a miracle solvent.

It cleans clothes well and – most importantly – it is nonflammable. This is in contrast to the previous solvents, like Stoddard solvent, gasoline, turpentine, and even benzene. Because the use of these flammable solvents resulted in catastrophic fires and explosions, government regulations forced dry cleaners to move out of highly populated areas. With the advent…

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