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Recycling Markets Stumbling in Our Shapeshifting Economy

Today's guest blog is authored by NERC Board Member Chaz Miller. The original post can be read here.

No one should be surprised at the up and down prices for our recyclables. After all, they are commodities subject to the economy’s ups and downs. Unlike recycling markets, the current economy is doing both at the same time. The Washington Post recently described it as “shape-shifting” because economic data is so contradictory. In August, eight days after we learned we had two consecutive quarters of declining economic growth (which is the definition of a recession), employment data showed tremendous job growth.  We were back to pre-COVID levels. Housing starts are down, construction jobs are up and inflation is an inescapable reality.  What is going on?

Recycling markets began reacting to economic news in mid-May…

New Circular Packaging Spotlight for a Few Familiar Formats

Today's guest blog is courtesy of NERC Advisory Member The Recycling Partnership. The original post can be read here.

Solutions for recyclable packaging are not one-size-fits-all. From aluminum beverage cans to glass bottles, each specific packaging material and format has its own unique recycling benefits and challenges, like design features or sorting technology. But addressing complex problems in siloes won’t further progress. We need all stakeholders across the value chain, for all materials, to engage in achieving a fully functioning U.S. residential recycling system and circular economy. The Recycling Partnership is furthering these efforts through the new Circular Packaging Spotlight and forthcoming Circular Packaging Assessment tool to further assist companies and communities with system complexities and individualized integrated solutions.  

It’s Time to Come to our System Senses 

Today's guest blog is authored by Keefe Harrison, CEO of NERC Advisory Member The Recycling Partnership. The original post can be read here.

I just hopped off the stage at Circularity ’22 and a few things stand out to me about this national drive to improve recycling and launch a circular economy.  Clearly people are frustrated that recycling hasn’t fixed the waste problem yet.  But before we jump to recycling’s failings, let’s be sure we haven’t failed recycling.  From my perspective, we’ve been taking steps, when it’s going to take a system.  

The reason it isn’t working at full scale is because we haven’t built it that way…yet. We don’t have a recycling system – we have a cobbled together network.  That is the honest truth. As the CEO of an organization that works hard to fix recycling let me be clear: it is 2022 and 40 million American families still lack access to recycling!…

The Benefits of Recycled Glass

Today's blog is authored by NERC summer intern Joseph Dolan.

For the first time in my life, I am attending summer courses. I am going to complete a Master's degree in public policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst this year, with one of my personal interests being environmental policy. Since I was required to get a summer internship for my academic program, I approached the Northeast Recycling Council in Brattleboro, Vermont for an internship position. I am pleased to work for such an organization since I believe in noble causes, which considering my interest in environmental policy overlaps quite well with their focus on recycling.

After the process of setting up the internship was taken care of, I was asked to help out with blogs. Originally, I was asked to find potential blogs, though I also offered to write one for them during my summer internship. After my offer was accepted, I contemplated what to write about for my first blog ever. I reflected on my reason for taking this internship, beyond the academic requirements. I considered my interest…

Managing C&D Debris for the Future

Today's guest blog is co-authored by Cynthia Mormile of MSW Consultants and Melissa Wenzel of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The original post can be read here.

Architecture 2030 has stated that a third of existing US buildings will be demolished by 2050—waste that, in large part, goes straight to landfills. In Minnesota, a staggering 90 percent of construction and demolition (C&D) debris is generated by demolition activity related to commercial and residential redevelopment.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) hired MSW Consultants through a competitive procurement process to determine where C&D materials come from and where they are brought to for disposal, to work towards changing current practices for C&D disposal and diversion. Our team conducted a statewide study, sampling the composition of the state’s C&D waste and estimating the percentages of major material groups and categories present using our proprietary app that incorporates material densities with volumes observed…