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NERC Blog

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.

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.