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Materials Management and Rural America, Part 1

Some rural areas are in decline; but some have economies in transition, and some rural areas are even prospering. The same can be said, in fact, of urban and metro areas of all sizes. Largely through funding by the US Department of Agriculture, Rural Utilities Service, NERC has conducted many projects working in rural and small towns throughout much of NERC’s 11-member state region. Some of NERC’s work takes place in communities that are thriving, and some of it is in communities that have definitely seen better days. The support for waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and food scrap/organics management varies widely from community to community. Some are resistant to new undertakings, while others embrace them. Convincing town leaders can often be difficult, but in communities with more active citizens, the success of project implementation happens more often than not. Whether urban, rural, or somewhere in between, all communities have a role in shaping America’s future. Accepting the worth and vitality of each community, and working to enhance and enrich all communities, can only benefit our entire nation.

Community Composting Keeps Growing!

Community composting offers a range of opportunities for organics management. It provides a valuable soil amendment for community gardens, teaches valuable job training skills, and helps train residents, schools, and businesses in the value of turning food scraps and other organics into compost. Examples of successful community compost operations abound, including: GrowNYC Food Scrap Collection, Roots Composting, ECO City Farms, and several community garden food scrap composting sites in Vermont.

New Study Quantifies Needlestick Injury Rates for Material Recovery Facility Workers

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2016 data, MRF injuries (including non-needlestick related) occur at a rate of 6 per 100 workers, suggesting 45 percent of MRF injuries could be attributed to needlesticks. Fifty-three percent of MRFs in the study noted having simply observed needles daily or a few times per week. Over half of the facilities observed them mixed with plastics.

Banning Straws and Bags Won’t Solve our Plastic Problem

More than 8 million tons of plastic waste wind up in the ocean every year. Many cities, states and businesses have banned or taxed single-use plastic bags. But is this a good thing? Not if that’s all we do. We need a wider array of smart public policies, a recycling infrastructure that’s right-sized for the problem, better recycling technology and new business models. Banning single-use plastic bags and straws without significant further action is putting a finger on a spigot at a time when we need to suppress the tidal wave.