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NERC Blog

Remembering the Rich History of Earth Day

Launched in the United States in 1970, Earth Day has since grown into a worldwide phenomenon involving over one billion people.

All Things Compost

International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) is just around the corner! ICAW is a comprehensive educational initiative celebrated annually in the US and countries around the world during the first full week of May. It is the largest and most comprehensive education initiative of the compost industry. This year the week dedicated to building awareness about compost will be held May 6 – 12 with the theme of Compost! Building a Better Future.

The Pay as You Throw Solution

Our country’s recycling and composting rate has been stagnant for about five years now, holding steady at around 34.6%. Recycling markets “in chaos” continues to be the story of the day. I sympathize with the companies and municipalities hit hard by the current decline in recycling commodity markets. However, I can’t help to wonder why it’s still the national consensus that disposing of trash should be paid for by tax dollars, but recycling has to pay for itself. There are some 89,000 local governments in the United States. Yet, less than 9,000 of those communities have adopted Pay as You Throw (PAYT). I would submit that while our focus on recycling commodity markets is important, so too should we start focusing on the fact that garbage hauling and disposal is not free.

Oregon expands program for refillable glass bottles

A glass bottle reuse program in Oregon has taken major steps forward, with glass giant Owens-Illinois creating a standardized refillable bottle for breweries and long-term plans for a wash facility moving forward. Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, the industry-managed stewardship group that runs the Beaver State’s container deposit program, is working with a number of stakeholders to expand what has until now been a fairly limited refillables sector. The ability to launch a statewide refillable program is tied to the fact Oregon has already a unique bottle deposit system in place already, one in which the stewardship group handles all stages of the recycling process, from collection to sale of recycled product to an end user.

New Law Calls for Disclosure of All Hazardous Chemicals in Cleaning Products

The groundbreaking Right to Know Act (SB 258) adopted in California lifts the veil of secrecy for cleaning products in that state. The legislation by California State Senator Ricardo Lara provides consumers and workers the right to know about chemicals they are exposed to from these products. Under this law, companies are required to disclose detailed ingredient information including (for the first time ever!) fragrance chemicals on any cleaning products sold in the state.

The Downside of Snow

Yet another snow storm...ever wonder about the environmental impacts relating to all that snow? How about where the snow collected from roadways is disposed? This article explores this timely topic.

An Interview with Food Scraps 360

Food Scraps 360 is a commercial and residential food scrap collection company serving New York's Capital Region. With its “Scraps to Riches” motto, the company has a mission to eliminate food waste and help to build sustainable communities. Sonia Sandoval is co-founder of the company.

Slowing Down Fast Fashion with Sustainability

In the past, fashion brands would release 4-6 collections that usually correlated with the seasons. Today, many brands participate in fast fashion, a term that can be used to describe most of the clothing sold at common retailers in local malls. Fast fashion means retailers are creating and mass-producing styles quickly and in large quantities to keep customers shopping for new styles frequently, and not just when the seasons change. This mass production also means that clothing is more affordable, encouraging the consumerism that has caused clothing and textiles to become the second largest pollutant in the world behind oil and gas.

500 Million Each Day

Straws are ubiquitous and it seems that most people don’t even consider the impact of the “little” plastic tube. Order almost any cold to-go beverage it comes with a straw. Sit down at a restaurant, your water almost always comes with a straw already in the glass. 500 million plastic straws (equal to nearly 3 million pounds) are used and disposed in our country each day. This amounts to an average 1.6 straws per capita per day. Friday, February 24 is National Skip the Straw Day—consider taking that first step to reduce your straw use. If you are already on the “skip the straw” path, please share this blog and the announcement about National Straw Day. For those who work with food service providers, add the “straws-on-request” policy to your outreach campaigns.

GREEN IN ’17 – AND LOOKING TO THE NEW YEAR

Today’s NERC Blog is courtesy of Ben Grumbles, Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment. Maryland is NERC’s newest state and will host our Spring Workshop on April 3. The Maryland Department of the Environment had a very productive 2017, taking important steps to restore the Chesapeake Bay, mitigate and adapt to climate change, fight for clean air, and advance environmental health initiatives such as lead poisoning prevention and more. We’re seeing measurable results and setting some records along the way, but recognize a lot more work is in store for 2018. Continual improvement will be key.