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NERC Blog

2017 Annual Reported Waste & Recycling Facility Fires US/CAN

In 2017, US & Canadian waste & recycling facilities have experienced 289 reported fires, three deaths, and eight direct injuries. These fires ranged from small incidents to complete burnouts and occurred in all types of recycling operations. Furthermore, we can assume that the number of "non-reported" fires that occur on a daily basis in recycling operations across the US and Canada is significant. Developing operation and safety processes and procedures, while important, can only take you so far. An effective fire technology solution provides a safety system that prevents incidents that may cause unplanned business interruption, property damages, pollution and/or injuries. This solution should detect an out-of-control process and take automatic action to ensure that the process and the plant are returned to a safe state.

Taco Time Embraces Seattle Waste Ordinance

When the City of Seattle passed an ordinance in 2010 that required compostable and recyclable single use food service items in dine-in food service operations, Taco Time willingly complied, and followed the standard 3 bin COMPOST/RECYCLE/TRASH sorting system. After discovering that all it took was one person in a hurry placing something in the wrong bin, and 90% of the materials end up as trash, they worked together to solve the sorting challenge and create a better system for the customer. Acknowledging that the intent of Seattle’s ordinance was to minimize waste to the landfill, Taco Time set out to redesign the model around success, and a single bin “food and compostables” collection system was added to the front of the house.

China’s Ban on Recyclables: Beyond the Obvious…

Today’s Guest Blog is courtesy of International Solid Waste Association President Antonis Mavropoulos. The article originally appeared in the ISWA Blog on January 16 2018.

Fake Organics

Certified compostable products have a vital role in helping us to divert food scraps and compostable foodservice items from the waste stream. But until more is done to stop these fake compostable products, confusion and misunderstanding among institutions, commercial food scrap generators, haulers and composters are likely to continue. Without a more concerted effort to stop greenwashing, the organics industry will continue to face hurdles in capturing food scraps and organics from the waste stream.

Lives Wasted: Garbage as a Forgotten Dimension of the European “Refugee Crisis”

A deflated rubber boat is washed up on the eastern coast of Chios. Once the waves have buried it under rocks and it becomes even more entangled with seagrass, you will hardly be able to see it. But for tourists strolling along the beach, this isn’t the only reminder of the boat landings by refugees who crossed Europe’s borders at night. All across the beaches of the Aegean Islands, where tourists usually swim and sunbathe, refugees leave their life jackets, water bottles, soaked clothes—and the boats on which they started their journey to a new life. The waste is what connects both, tourists and refugees, in their everyday life, as both are caught up in a circle of producing and managing waste. Beyond that, the waste is a material trace of countless people’s struggles to survive and escape violent conflicts. It is a trace that tourists and islanders would like to ignore; a trace, however, that won’t disappear by itself.

Let’s Take on Industry Polluter #2

The next time you toss a shirt into the trash because it’s time for a fresh one, consider this: the manufacture of clothes, shoes, belts, and accessories – otherwise known as textiles – is the second largest polluting industry in the world after oil and gas. That’s right. Pesticides used to grow cotton, toxics in dyes, and energy-intensive manufacturing create a whopping impact on the environment and public health. What happens to these products after we no longer want them is just as shocking. Eighty-three percent of used textiles are disposed in the garbage, even though the majority of these items can be donated for reuse and recycling. Even items that are worn and torn can be reused as rags and insulation.

Eight Thoughts on Current Recycling Market Upheaval

Guest author, Chaz Miller, presents a broader look at recycling in general and how to make sense of current turmoil in the market.

A Seventh Resource

The solution to one of the most fundamental and urgent problems currently facing our planet is right on our doorstep…Recycling. The message of Global Recycling Day: if we want to retain the earth’s natural resources and ensure the future of our planet…the time for change is now.

Materials Management in a Sustainable Economy

In his keynote address at NERC's Fall 2017 Conference, David Levine of the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) calls for collaboration between businesses and policymakers to help bring about a sustainable economy.

The Vermont Green Business Program Still Going Strong

By recognizing and assisting sustainable businesses that operate as environmental stewards, the Vermont Green Business Program (VT GBP) is as important today as it was when it was launched 17 years ago. With the recent addition of Champlain Valley Apiaries, a manufacturer of honey products in Middlebury, and the Northeast Recycling Council, a Brattleboro-based non-profit organization working on sustainable materials management, the Program includes more than 230 businesses.  Member businesses are diverse in size and operations and include hotels, restaurants, marinas, grocers, golf courses, and others. 

“The VT GBP helps businesses to keep the triple bottom line framework of people, profits, and the planet relevant,” says Ed Antczak, Program Manager of the Vermont Environmental Assistance Office.

The recently completed annual survey confirms that VT GBP members minimize their environmental footprints through energy efficiency and water conservation measures. Members have upgraded to Energy Star appliances…