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Thinking about Spring, Special Events, and Composting

It's that time of year again—time to consider implementing composting at your special event.

Why special event composting?

Virtually all communities—from small towns to large cities—have special events. Whether a block party or music festival, events offer a perfect opportunity for hands-on education about composting. Special events present a microcosm of our society. People gather, they do activities together, and they generate waste.As much as half (or more) of the special event waste stream is compostable.

Composting can be successful at virtually any type of special event. Events frequently offer recycling, a very laudable undertaking. However, taking that next step—to implement collection of compostables—often seems daunting.

Admittedly, the tasks to implementing successful event composting are often unfamiliar and can be challenging—finding a hauler, convincing vendors to only use compostable service ware, and securing more volunteers. Composting at special events doesn't usually happen without extremely dedicated organizers or outside "intervention" from solid waste experts…and, often both!

Getting…

Pigments in Shopping Bags May Contain Lead, But Overall Compliance with State Laws Improving

In a recent study, the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse found that vibrant solid-colored shopping bags are still at risk for containing high concentrations of lead in violation of state toxics in packaging laws. The Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse screened 125 single-use shopping and mailing bags for the presence of lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium in the inks used to print or color the bags. These toxic metals are regulated in packaging by nineteen U.S. states.

Only three bags failed the screening test for lead, however, each of the failing samples contained about 1% lead by weight of the bag. "This means that for every 100 pounds of these shopping bags, we're introducing about 1 pound of lead into commerce," according to Dr. Alex Stone of the State of Washington, Department of Ecology. "These bags ultimately end up in our incinerators, landfills, or recycling streams. Lead is considered a persistent, bio-accumulative toxin. It's a metal and isn't destroyed, but only…

Farm Compost Marketing in Rhode Island and New Hampshire

To help expand and support compost markets in the Northeast, NERC was awarded a grant from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Resources developed by NERC for the project, as well as presentations from seven compost marketing workshops, are posted on NERC's Compost Marketing web page.

Recent site visits were made to a farm compost operation in Rhode Island and one in New Hampshire.

Aquidneck Farms

Aquidneck Farms raises grass-fed beef and pastured poultry on conservation land overlooking the scenic Sakonnet River in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Aquidneck Farms manages close to 400 acres of prime agricultural land. The Farm's 125 head herd is a mix of pure Angus and an Angus/Hereford cross. The Farm also produces its own hay and grass silage to feed its animals. Aquidneck Farms grass-fed beef products are available at local farmer's markets, in specialty stores and restaurants, as well as directly off the farm.

Steel Recycling 101

Today's Guest Blog is by Casey Fenton, Communications Assistant for the Steel Recycling Institute.

As long as steel has been around, steel has been recycled. Melting down scrap metal to process into new material to create useful products has always been a vital part of steel's life cycle. The creation of a vast recycling infrastructure was essential to grow and expand as the nation grew. The essential need of steel scrap continued to push sustainable advances of steel along with positioning the material as North America's #1 most recycled material.

More steel is recycled each year than paper, plastic, aluminum and glass combined. Steel has an overall recycling rate of 92% (2011) and over 90 million tons of steel are recycled annually. While many industries attempt to promote themselves as "being green", steel has no need since they already have been for so long. With increased innovation they have been able to recycle more, increasing the overall steel recycling rate 25%…

It’s Time to Change the Conversation Regarding Clothing Recycling

Today's Guest Blog on textile recovery and recycling is by Jackie King, Executive Director of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART).

 

SMART Working with Nation's Educators to Promote Textile Recycling

Each day, millions of people around the world collect and recycle paper, aluminum, glass and plastic products without a second thought. This has been true for many years as a result of the educational efforts which began with the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. Unfortunately, the first "Earth Day" environmentalists did not include clothing and textiles as household materials to be recycled.

In fact, clothing…

Steps toward Zero Waste for Contractors and Builders, Part 3

This article—describing the costs and benefits of recycling C&D—continues our blog series on laying out a "roadmap" for builders and contractors on moving towards zero waste for construction and demolition projects. Zero waste is a path that can lead to savings and profit. Zero waste does not actually mean "zero waste," as some think. Instead it is a goal and en route to that goal, great change and value can be achieved. And, contractors can realize cost reductions by following this path. Zero waste in construction and remodeling projects focuses on looking for opportunities:

  • Generating less waste by using materials more efficiently – saves money;
  • Reusing materials on site, or selling or donating them to someone else for reuse – cost containment, potential revenues or tax benefits; and
  • Recycling whenever possible – might save you money and could even bring in revenue.

Zero waste in construction and remodeling is a win-win proposition, and not as hard to do as you might think.

Maximizing the Value of Recycling

In addition to helping you to identify the type of recycling services…

Don’t be judgmental

Today's Guest Blog on textiles was written by Larry Groipen, President of ERC Wiping Products, Inc.

I have been in the textile recycling business for over 35 years, When my kids were in school they were often teased that their dad sold rags. Well today they are very proud that their father is involved in helping the environment by diverting and recycling millions of pounds of textiles annually. You can help too!

Everyone has heard the term don't be Judgmental; when it comes to clothing and other household textiles the truth is you should not be judgmental when you take your clothing to your favorite charity or clothing recycler. Just grab the biggest bag you can and throw it all in there. No need to decide if the clothing or shoes are wearable or desirable.

Charities…

High Tech meets Recycling

3-D printers are all the rage in the tech world. Now, Filabot has come up with a desktop extruding system that can grind plastics to make spools of plastic filament for 3D printers. The system claims to be both user friendly and environmentally friendly. The Filabot can process a wide range of plastics, including milk jugs, soda bottles, LDPE trays, bottle caps, and more to make new filament for printing.

3-D printers can "print" nearly any object, but require expensive plastic filament to melt down and form into the thin layers of material that become the 3-D print. Filabot could prove to be really handy around the office…a recycling center right on your desk! And, significantly lower the costs of 3D printing!

Textiles: the Undiscovered Recycling Frontier

The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 13.1 million tons of textiles were generated in 2010, or 5.3% of our country's total municipal solid waste (MSW) generation. Approximately 14% of clothing and footwear and 17.1% of items such as sheets and pillowcases were recovered for export or reprocessing in 2010. In 2010, 15% of all used textiles were recovered – some 2 million tons.

According to the Council for Textile Recycling the average U.S. citizen throws away an astounding 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles each year.

Defining Textiles

A wide-range of used and unwanted textiles can be recovered for reuse and recycling. These include clothing, shoes, accessories (belts, gloves, handbags, etc.), as well as household items, from linens and curtains to bedding, towels, and rugs.

Nearly 100% of unwanted household textiles and clothing can be recycled, regardless of quality or condition.

Why Recover Textiles?

From a…

Steps toward Zero Waste for Contractors and Builders, Part 2

This article continues our blog series on laying out a "roadmap" for builders and contractors on moving towards zero waste for construction and demolition projects. Zero waste is a path that can lead to savings and profit. Zero waste does not actually mean "zero waste," as some think. Instead it is a goal and en route to that goal, great change and value can be achieved. And, contractors can realize cost reductions by following this path. Zero waste in construction and remodeling projects focuses on looking for opportunities:

  • Generating less waste by using materials more efficiently – saves money;
  • Reusing materials on site, or selling or donating them to someone else for reuse – cost containment, potential revenues or tax benefits; and
  • Recycling whenever possible – might save you money and could even bring in revenue.

Zero waste in construction and remodeling is a win-win proposition, and not as hard to do as you might think.

Materials to be Reused & Recycled

The Plan should list the specific materials that you intend to reuse or recycle. The first step is to understand which materials have reuse…