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Recycling Makes Sense. A Single Bottle, A Single Can, A Single Box All Matter – So Does Your Participation

This week's guest blog is courtesy of the It's All You campaign of The Recycling Partnership. The original posting can be found here.

Why should I recycle? It’s a question that we’ve all asked ourselves. The Recycling Partnership wants you to know that the answer is easy. According to the Partnership’s Chief Community Strategy Officer Cody Marshall, “Every time we recycle, we reduce pollution and conserve resources. But recycling does more than that. Recyclables have potential. When you recycle something, you’re actually putting material back into the supply chain.” It’s simple, easy, and something that we can all do from the comfort of our homes and offices.

What actually happens to the materials placed into recycling bins and carts?

The current…

Recycling Programs Essential to Maintain Supply of Essential Products

Today's guest blog is by Brian Hawkinson, Executive Director, Recovered Fiber, American Forest & Paper Association.

Over the last decade, the U.S. paper industry has achieved a consistently high recycling rate, meeting or exceeding 63 percent since 2009—a rate that’s nearly doubled since 1990, when the industry first set a paper recycling goal. Recently, AF&PA announced that the 2019 paper recycling rate was 66.2 percent. The rate represents a slight decrease from the 2018 rate, 68.1 percent, largely due to a reduction in U.S. recovered paper exports to China, but is still an increase from the 2017 recycling rate of 65.9 percent. The recycling rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) was 92.0 percent in 2019 and the three-year average OCC recycling rate is 92.3 percent.

Recovered fiber is essential to produce paper and packaging products. In 2019, more than 31 million tons of recovered fiber was consumed by U.S. paper…

The Plague of Uncertainty: The Pandemic’s Unpredictable Impacts on Recycling and Its Markets

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

At the end of January, I spoke on recycling markets at the Connecticut Recyclers Coalition Annual Conference. I never uttered the word “pandemic”. So much for my predictive abilities.

In spite of that, they asked me to do a webinar at the end of this month on the pandemic’s impact on recycling markets. Much of its impact on the industry is well known. Residential trash and recyclables are up, commercial trash and recyclables are down. Because businesses, as a whole, generate more of both, overall waste and recycling generation are down. Due to social distancing and other requirements, MRF workers are being separated and line speed has slowed. Worker shortages have been…

Is Disposable Dishware Safer?

Today's guest blog was authored by Alex Freid of the Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN). The original post can be found here.

Dining on College Campuses During the COVID-19 Pandemic

About a month ago, we announced that we were going to host a digital discussion for campus sustainability staff called “Zero Waste Strategic Planning During COVID-19”. We framed the conversation as a space to come together to discuss the following questions:

  • “How do we maintain momentum towards zero waste goals while campuses aren’t active?”
  • “How can we use this time while students aren’t physically on campus to map out long-term strategies for our programs and projects when we get back?”

In the sign-up form, we asked staff to share what their projects currently look like while they are working from home, and what concerns they have about ongoing zero waste efforts. In total, over 250 campus staff signed up, causing us to schedule…

Natural Gas: Bridge or Anchor?

This week's NERC guest blog is courtesy of As You Sow, a leading shareowner advocacy organization and a proponent of sustainable investing. The original post can be found here.

By Lila Holzman and Daniel Stewart

“We have been talking about, for the last few years, gas as the bridge… There is an inevitability about bridges, which is that sooner or later you get to the end of the bridge."⁠ — Adnan Amin, International Renewable Energy Agency

The window of opportunity to prevent catastrophic climate change

In My Opinion: It’s time for recycled-content mandates

Today's guest blog is authored by Clarissa Morawski, managing director of the Reloop Platform. The post was originally published in Resource Recycling Magazine.

Accelerating the transition to a circular economy has become a high priority for major companies and governments around the globe.

The goal is to keep materials in the economy for as long as possible and then to recover them to be reused and recycled into new materials and products. This necessitates strong and consistent demand for recycled materials and depends on manufacturers integrating secondary materials (instead of virgin) into their new products and packaging.

For nearly two decades, the dominant market for many of the world’s recycled materials was China. In 2016 alone, Chinese manufacturers and recyclers imported 7.3 million metric tons of waste plastics (valued at $3.7 billion) from developed countries, including the EU, Japan, the U.K., the…

CDC Issues COVID Guidance for Recyclers

Responding to a request from NERC Advisory Member the National Waste and Recycling Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published guidance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among waste collectors and recyclers.

Green consumerism, 2020 style

The following guest blog was authored by Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor of GreenBiz. The blog was originally published here.

For more than a decade, I’ve been tracking and compiling surveys of U.S. consumers on a wide range of environmental issues for an annual article like this one, typically published in the runup to annual Earth Day celebrations. (Here’s the first one, done in 2007 and 

Our Medical Repair Database is Going Strong—but Still Needs Help

On March 18th, Kyle Wiens of iFixit posted an appeal to help the organization crowdsource repair manuals for ventilators and other medical equipment central to many for recovery from Covid-19. On March 26th, Olivia Webb posted an update, the text of which is reprinted here.

ISRI: More to Recycling than the Curbside Bin

Mention recycling to most people, and the image that is conjured most likely will be the journey from the curbside bin to the local waste transfer station. But in reality, most recycling activity in the United States occurs at industrial and commercial levels. NERC Advisory Member Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) plays an essential role in conveying timely information for the scrap recycling industry; the trade association “represents more than 1,100 private and public for-profit companies that process, broker, and industrially consume all scrap commodities.”

In its 2019 Recycling Industry Yearbook, ISRI describes the types of material that are defined as scrap. “Obsolete scrap consists of used and end-of-life materials and products. These include vehicles, appliances, electronics, cardboard boxes and other paper goods, bottles and cans, and clothing. Demolition sites are another common source of obsolete scrap.

“Prompt, prime, or new scrap comes out of the manufacturing process,” the report continues. “These…