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Sixty Technologies to Help Solve Plastics Pollution

The dystopian stories are all over the news. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) “covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, an area twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France.” Microplastics have been found by scientists “ in the vast majority of marine samples” collected. Most recently, airborne microplastics have been found in great numbers in remote locations, far from any city. And because the manufacturing of virgin plastics requires fossil fuels, insufficient rates of plastics recycling contribute to the exacerbation of climate change.

Efforts are now being made to thwart some of the most prominent examples of plastics pollution. Throughout the world, municipalities and even entire countries have banned single-use plastic bags and plastic straws. But the reliance on plastic is so ubiquitous that such bans, while…

Spring Renewal

This guest blog is courtesy of the Fibre Box Association, Rachel Kenyon, Vice President.

Spring is a time of renewal. For many of us it’s a time to shake off the winter chill. The easiest way to do so, is to look out the window. All around us, nature is renewing itself which makes this the perfect time of year to talk about the renewability of trees, the corrugated industry’s raw material.

One of my favorite things about working in this industry is the continuous circularity of the raw materials that are used to make corrugated products. Different than other packaging materials that rely on fossil fuels as their raw material, corrugated packaging is made from a renewable resource.

It all begins with seedlings

In the US, 3.2 million seedlings are planted each day becoming 1.2 billion seedlings planted each year. These seedlings eventually become forests.  One-third…

Next evolution of R2 adapts to new and diverse sectors in the electronics reuse-recycling industry

This guest blog is provided by the Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI).

Industry sectors involved in the resale, reuse and recycling of used electronics have grown increasingly diverse and specialized since the R2 Standard for Responsible Recycling was first introduced in 2008.  Certification to the R2 Standard ushered in accountability and set the industry bar for safer and more sustainable ways to manage used and end-of life electronic products.   As the industry continues to evolve and mature, the R2 Standard is once again poised to lead the way in improving how the world reuses and recycles electronics with the next evolution of the R2 Standard – R2v3.

Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI), the ANSI accredited standards developer and oversight body for the R2 Standard, recently released the proposed R2v3 Draft, which is available for review and download on the R2v3 page of the SERI website.  The proposed changes in R2v3 reflect a decade of experience gained from auditing and implementing the Standard and the overwhelming adoption of R2 across diverse…

Is Recycling a Waste?

Guest Blog Courtesy of the Massachusetts Recycle Smart Program

It seems like every day another negative recycling story hits the news. Here’s a recent sampling: 
As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling (NY Times, 3/16/19);
Recycling is a Dumpster Fire. Literally (On Point Radio, 3/14/19).   
Is This the End of Recycling? (Atlantic Monthly, 3/4/19);
Help, We’re Drowning in Recycling (Wall Street Journal, 3/2/19);
U.S. Cities Have Nowhere to Put Recycling (CBS Evening News, 3/20/19);

It’s no wonder our neighbors, friends and family are asking “is my recycling just going to a landfill?”  or “should I even bother?”
China closing its doors to our mixed paper and unsorted plastics was a wake-up call.  Over the last ten years our recycling habits got sloppy. (Wishful recycling, anyone?) But China kept gobbling up everything we sent, sorted out the bad stuff, and made new packaging and products from the good stuff – until they said, “enough.”


How did the waste and recycling industry do in 2018 with regard to facility fires?

This guest blog is courtesy of Ryan Fogelman, VP of Strategic Partnerships, Fire Rover, LLC

Each new year is a time of reflection to both learn from our successes and our failures. For the waste and recycling industry, 2018 was extremely eventful – and full of preventable failures. Being in the fire elimination business, I stay current on how the number and causes of fire incidents are impacted by industry and societal trends. Early in 2018, we focused on China’s ‘green sword’ policy and how to lower contamination in our commodity bales. While the industry was consumed by this issue, I noticed the pace of reported waste and recycling facility fires was continuing to rise. While the public’s attention shifted to wildfires in the summer of 2018, I was working to understand the connection between hot and dry environments and their impact on increased waste and recycling facility fires. As 2018 came to a close and more information about Chinese restrictions on metals became available, I recognized a dangerous trend (initially highlighted in my 2017 Annual Report) — more fires at scrap metal facilities across the US/Canada. 

As my third…

Now is the time to go all in on Recycling!

This guest blog is provided by the Carton Council.

The first quarter of 2019 is almost over and the recycling crisis continues to receive significant attention, including in the mainstream media.  Residents may question if recycling is still worth it at a time when we need them to recycle more and more carefully. In the meantime, those in the industry are hard at work determining new strategies to ensure every material that can be recycled gets its chance at a second life in a sustainable way.

For food and beverage cartons, there is good news. The packaging option that is used for products like milk, juice, cream, water, soup, broth, beans and wine, has seen carton recycling access expand to over 63 percent of the U.S. We know that residents want to recycle their cartons and believe they are recyclable. A survey released last year found that 79 percent of consumers report they always or occasionally recycle their food and beverage cartons.

The Carton Council is also working to ensure there are solid end markets available for sorting facilities to send their cartons Food and beverage cartons…

There’s No Time to be Timid

The Guest Blog this month is provided by Keefe Harrison, The Recycling Partnership CEO

Greetings from Abu Dhabi. As the 2019 World Ocean Summit wraps up, and I prepare to head home, I’ve settled on my mantra for the year:

Warming waters. Acidification. Marine debris. The ocean is the pulse of our planet and it needs our help.  We know that climate change is accelerating the troubles in our seas, compounding the hazards brought on from plastic waste in our waterways.  It can be depressing.  It should be depressing.  But it shouldn’t mean that we give up hope.  Instead, it should be the final push we need to boldly try new things, fail fast, and build new alliances to make change – in partnership, together.

Partnership is part of our name for a reason. Over the past five years, it has been The Recycling Partnership’s approach to work with others to tackle challenges, head on, with no wishful thinking.

Our approach?  Try new things.  Think we can do even better?  Wonderful.  Learn from mistakes and try again.  Play well with others.  Roll up your sleeves.  It’s not always easy to face challenges…

Households Fight Climate Change

This guest blog is courtesy of Greenmatch.

Lowering the Domestic Energy Consumption

Recent data from the UK government has shown that global thinking and local action go hand in hand in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The UK is leading the way in slowing down climate change with the help of domestic households - a strategy that is equally applicable in the US.

In the UK, the current amount of electricity generated per person is the lowest since 1984, which has been a key factor in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This decrease has largely been thanks to the use of renewable energy, such as solar panels and domestic heat pumps.

Domestic households in the US up to 21.1%…

Bridging the Data Gap is Essential for Incorporating Sustainable Materials Management into States’ Waste Reduction Models

This guest blog was posted by Ameripen on February 26, 2019.

All waste is not created equal when it comes to calculating environmental impact. It makes sense, yet too often we set waste diversion goals and policies based on a standardized approach. Figuring out how to compare wastes and impacts and accurately measure diversion success is a complex task and frequently debated. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supports use of a Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) framework, which focuses on minimizing resource consumption and adverse environment impacts throughout a material’s lifecycle, from extraction through processing, manufacturing, usage and eventually end-of-life management.

Applying an SMM approach has been one framework to help states explore impact versus diversion, but direction on how to apply it towards goal setting and policy making has been lacking. AMERIPEN sought to fill that gap. We were intrigued by the work of Dr. Tim Townsend at the University of Florida, who developed a model for applying SMM to state based waste characterizations to help set goals and direct policy focus for the State of Florida…

Why a Market-Based Tire Recycling System Shouldn’t Be Scrapped

This guest blog is courtesy of Paul Arellano.

Tire recycling is a mixed industry. There are government regulations that determine how to legally dispose of used tires, yet the system is still largely market-based. There are some who favor greater government control of the tire recycling industry. While it’s true that government regulation is a necessity, a market-based system shouldn’t be scrapped entirely.

Pros and Cons of a Market-Based System

Although a market-based system has its benefits, there is no doubt this industry would look very different without government involvement. Many businesses and individuals would probably choose not to recycle, but rather dispose of their tires in a landfill if there were no penalties for doing so. There might be less of a demand for rubber in the civil engineering industry if the government did not award tire recycling grants.

The current system has seen great success, however, and greater government regulation may not be necessary.

A 90% Success Rate