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Recycling is Not Dead

This guest blog is provided by Michael Nork, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Recently, it seems there has been a flood of news stories about the recycling “crisis.” Municipalities are seeing rising costs due to contamination problems and market restrictions, causing some to make tough choices about whether or not to continue recycling. There’s no doubt about it, these are tough times for recycling. However, it isn’t the end of the world.

It’s true that the import restrictions imposed by China’s “National Sword” policy have caused a disruption in the recycling marketplace. However, some media reporting might lead one to believe that the US was shipping the vast majority of its recyclables overseas. In fact, in any given year over the past 20 years, only about 30-40 percent of US recyclables was exported, while the majority has been, and still is, handled by domestic markets.[1] Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that we need to increase our domestic processing capacity in the wake of China’s blockade on certain recyclable materials, most notably mixed paper and mixed plastics.

In…

Improving Residential Recycling Programs in the U.S.

This guest blog is courtesy of the Solus Group.

The recycling industry in the U.S. is in the midst of a dramatic overhaul. As the implications of China’s stringent contamination limits reverberate throughout the recycling ecosystem, residential recycling programs are particularly at risk.

That’s because it’s hard to control the waste stream of an entire neighborhood. Even the best-run recycling programs in the nation are likely to see considerable contamination in their recycling bins. Without careful sorting, there’s just no end market for corrupted recyclables anymore.

That market managed to grow even slimmer when, in March 2019, the government of India announced a ban on plastic scrap imports, set to take place at the end of August. (In 2018, 12 percent of U.S. plastic scrap exports went to India, a total of 294 million pounds.)

Here are a few ways the industry can reform residential recycling programs to produce…

Sixty Technologies to Help Solve Plastics Pollution

The dystopian stories are all over the news. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) “covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, an area twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France.” Microplastics have been found by scientists “ in the vast majority of marine samples” collected. Most recently, airborne microplastics have been found in great numbers in remote locations, far from any city. And because the manufacturing of virgin plastics requires fossil fuels, insufficient rates of plastics recycling contribute to the exacerbation of climate change.

Efforts are now being made to thwart some of the most prominent examples of plastics pollution. Throughout the world, municipalities and even entire countries have banned single-use plastic bags and plastic straws. But the reliance on plastic is so ubiquitous that such bans, while…

Spring Renewal

This guest blog is courtesy of the Fibre Box Association, Rachel Kenyon, Vice President.

Spring is a time of renewal. For many of us it’s a time to shake off the winter chill. The easiest way to do so, is to look out the window. All around us, nature is renewing itself which makes this the perfect time of year to talk about the renewability of trees, the corrugated industry’s raw material.

One of my favorite things about working in this industry is the continuous circularity of the raw materials that are used to make corrugated products. Different than other packaging materials that rely on fossil fuels as their raw material, corrugated packaging is made from a renewable resource.

It all begins with seedlings

In the US, 3.2 million seedlings are planted each day becoming 1.2 billion seedlings planted each year. These seedlings eventually become forests.  One-third…

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