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NERC Blog

The Lives of Recyclables

This guest blog is courtesy of RoadRunner Recycling. The post was written by Shelby Bell at RoadRunner Recycling.

Have you ever wondered what happens to your materials after they have been tossed in the recycling bin? After collection, each material is set on its own path to become a new product. Some materials can cycle through the process indefinitely, while others can only be recycled a few times before they lose their quality. Continue reading to learn about the recyclables’ journey from the recycling bin back to the shelf.

Cardboard

Did you know, 1 ton of recycled cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil and over 9 cubic yards of landfill space? Cardboard fibers are strong and can break down many times before they lose their quality. Once cardboard travels from your recycling…

Verifying Sustainability at Meaningful Scale: The Landscape Approach

This guest blog is courtesy of GreenBlue and was written by Sarah Crow, Senior Director, Sustainability Solutions, American Forest Foundation

As 2020 approaches, many brand owners and retailers are evaluating their performance and analyzing how they can achieve their sustainability goals for this decade. At the 2018 SPC Advance conference, hosted by The Sustainable Packaging Coalition, sustainability leaders from many different companies discussed the opportunities to demonstrate sustainability and make a difference through their sourcing.

Many companies have set goals to source 100% of the fiber for their packaging, paper, and other materials from recycled, certified, and verified sources. These brands want greater visibility into their sourcing and a means to drive sustainability at scale.

“Mars is excited to be a partner in the development of Forests in Focus. We believe Forests in Focus…

How Much of our Waste is Actually Recyclable?

Environmental Research & Education Foundation.

Check out the infographic!

Since 1995, the amount of commodity recyclables in the waste stream has fallen 10 points from 53% to 43%.

A recent EREF analysis examined the waste management policies set by state/local agencies, such as recycling and diversion goals. EREF found that states across the U.S. have recycling goals ranging from 10% – 50%.

If every item that was capable of being recycled actually was recycled, could these goals be achieved? This concept, applicable to diversion in general, is known as the theoretical maximum recovery.

Disclaimer: Guest blogs represent the opinion of the writers and may not reflect the policy or position of the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.

“Recomposition”: Composting Meets the Death Industry

Here in NERC’s hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont, the local waste hauler collects household food scraps once a week, and delivers them for rendering into compost at our solid waste management district. It’s a trend that’s catching on in many places, and for many reasons; not the least of which are the benefits to soil health that compost brings.

Meanwhile, on farms and ranches, composting on a much larger scale occurs as a station in the cycle of life. When done properly, the composting of animal mortalities is an effective way of dealing with animal carcasses while providing beneficial soil amendments.

For a number of reasons, little thought has traditionally been given to the composting of human remains. But in the State of Washington, that may soon change. State Senator Jamie Pederson has introduced…

The Opportunities of Solar Panel Recycling

This guest blog is courtesy of GreenMatch.

What Happens to PV Panels When Their Life Cycle Ends

The energy industry has been experiencing a radical change and the gradual shift towards renewable energy sourcing is more than evident. Nevertheless, not all that looks sustainable stays that way upon the end of its life cycle. At least that is the most common worry regarding photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. They are a sustainable source of energy, dependant only on solar radiation, and capable of delivering electricity to our homes. However, what happens to solar panels when they fail to perform efficiently? Explore their journey through the recycling process in the infographic below:

The Lifetime of Solar Panels

How long do solar panels last? A question that most people have in mind when considering solar panels. According to studies, the life…

It’s Time to Get Toxic Chemicals Out Of Dry Cleaning

Today’s Guest Blog is by Steve Whittaker and Ashley Pedersen with the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County, Washington. The article was originally posted in Environmental Health News on December 13, 2018.

Perchloroethylene, a probable human carcinogen, remains the most frequently-used solvent for dry cleaning. It's time to help the industry change—and our county is doing just that.

When perchloroethylene (PERC) was introduced to the dry cleaning industry in the 1930s, it must have seemed like a miracle solvent.

It cleans clothes well and – most importantly – it is nonflammable. This is in contrast to the previous solvents, like Stoddard solvent, gasoline, turpentine, and even benzene. Because the use of these flammable solvents resulted in catastrophic fires and explosions, government regulations forced dry cleaners to move out of highly populated areas. With the advent of PERC, dry cleaners could move back to population centers, where the customers were.

The dry cleaning industry provided a unique…

The Municipal Measurement Program has Launched

We're very excited to announce the official launch of the Municipal Measurement Program (MMP)! The goal of the MMP is to harmonize the measurement of material management programs and to provide municipalities with decision-making tools that can improve recycling program performance.

What is the MMP?

The Municipal Measurement Program is a free Program Assessment and Planning Tool that delivers insights and actionable recommendations to municipal waste management agencies. By completing the program assessment surveys, municipalities can generate a range of performance, benchmarking, and recommendation reports.

Why is the MMP so important?

Municipalities face a variety of challenges when it comes to reducing the amount of waste their communities produce. Program managers rarely have enough time or money to properly measure the progress they are making toward achieving their diversion goals. Tracking…

Recycling PSA: Tangled Up!

A new silent film-style public service ad from Baltimore County, Maryland demonstrates why many jurisdictions do not accept items such as plastic bags and clothing for recycling.

Produced in-house by Bureau of Solid Waste Management employees, “Tangled Up!” shows how operations are halted daily at the County’s MRF because of residents putting “tanglers” in their recycling bins. The fun, 90-second video can be viewed online at Facebook, YouTube and the County’s website.

What are Tanglers?

As most of you know, tanglers are materials such as plastic bags and textiles that get caught in the MRF equipment and must be cut out by hand, one by one, for operations to resume. At the end of each day, Baltimore County uses 10 temporary employees to cut tanglers from between a few thousand…

This Holiday Season: Be Battery Safety Smart

Batteries power our world and provide many everyday conveniences. The freedom to go unplugged comes with the responsibility to safely manage batteries once they reach their end-of-life. While recycling batteries is a year-round activity, it’s especially important during the holidays as many consumers are purchasing new battery powered products and may be left wondering what to do with their old batteries.

Don’t Forget Cardboard! Optimizing Recycling this Season & Year Round

The arrival of short days and cold weather means the holidays are rapidly approaching. Along with that comes presents from friends and loved ones. While we naturally think of the gifts themselves as precious, the boxes they come in also are valuable, for both their contributions to the economy and how they help us be environmentally responsible during this festive season.  In Massachusetts alone, more than 13,000 people work in the Commonwealth’s 2,000 recycling businesses, and individual contributions to recycling are critical to support those jobs and businesses.

Containerboard, the material used to make the cardboard boxes that online purchases arrive in, is widely recycled.  And, in fact, in many states cardboard recycling is mandated.  In 2017, 36 percent of all paper recovered for recycling was used to make the very cardboard boxes used to ship all of those holiday gifts. The recovery rate for cardboard boxes themselves is also consistently high, reaching almost 90 percent in 2017.[i].

New York has maintained one of the most successful recycling programs in the nation for close to three decades. Waste360 ranked New York the…

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