New Sustaining Member
Renewing Sustaining Member
Renewing Supporting Members
Membership is key to NERC's regional and national commitment to sustainable materials management. We are delighted to welcome our newest Sustaining Member Interstate Refrigerant Recovery, as well as renewing Sustaining Member Strategic Materials. In addition, we thank renewing Supporting Members the Delaware River & Bay Authority, MSW Consultants, and the News Media Alliance.
Thank you to all our Advisory Members. To see a complete listing of NERC's Members and Supporters, as well as the benefits of membership, visit the NERC Advisory Membership web page.
The broad spectrum of interests represented by NERC's Advisory Members, Individual Supporters, and Board Members and their willingness to participate significantly contribute to the unique and important role that NERC plays in recycling in the region.
For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, Executive Director.
It’s not often that a materials recovery facility (MRF) is highlighted in the New York Times for its architectural design. But the MRF in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, co-owned (with New York City) and operated by new NERC Advisory Member Sims Municipal Recycling (SMR), received just such an accolade when it opened in 2013. In addition to reducing recycling costs and creating jobs, Times writer Michael Kimmelman reports, the facility “is an ensemble of modernist boxes squeezing art, and even a little drama, from a relatively meager design budget.”
Sims’s MRF is the largest in the United States. Ninety-nine percent of the steel used in its construction is recycled, and it is built on a pier elevated by four feet with blended glass aggregate and stone.
The reason why Sims was willing to invest so much in a new, state-of-the-art MRF? It has a 20-year contract with New York City, with the opportunity for additional 10-year extensions. According to the company, it processes all of the metal, glass and plastic, and half the paper, collected by the NYC Department of Sanitation. SMR has “become a cornerstone of New York City’s recycling system, processing and marketing approximately 475,000 tons of plastic, glass, metal and paper that New Yorkers put into recycling bins each year,” the company states.
Sims is a critically important partner in New York’s ambitious plan to send zero waste to landfills by 2030. And in keeping with its commitment to its stakeholders, the Brooklyn MRF operates an Education Center that attracts more than 8,000 visitors a year. Activities range from “open house” events that draw hundreds of curious New Yorkers, to filming by the Sesame Street production team, to hosting United Nations sustainability experts from around the world, all intermixed with a constant flow of school groups.
Formed as a subsidiary in 2002 by Australia-based Sims Metal Management, SMR also operates facilities in Queens, the Bronx and Jersey City, and in 2013 entered the Chicago market. “With greater restrictions on plastic imports into China, SMR has recently expanded its business of processing mixed plastics produced by other MRFs into sorted, saleable resins,” the company states.
Responsible for 10-12,000 tons per month of glass coming from NYC and surrounding NJ municipalities, SMR has developed its own glass beneficiation facility. SMR’s Glass Plant produces furnace-ready clear, green and amber cullet, and converts glass that cannot be color-sorted into aggregate for local construction projects.
“The sheer volume of recyclables produced in NYC, and the quality issues inherent with recyclables collected in such a dense and diverse city provide us with some insights into the challenges facing the industry today,” general manager Tom Outerbridge said. “We decided to become a member of NERC at this time primarily due to the market shortfalls associated with mixed paper as a result of the Chinese National Sword. I think there is a real opportunity and value in regional solutions to some pressing problems, like mill capacity for mixed paper, glass market development, and recycled content legislation for plastics bags.”
In the 2018 Sustainability Report of parent Sims Metal Management, the company states, “… sustainability is, and will continue to be, a cornerstone of our corporate strategy. Not only is it a guiding principle for our Company, but it is also at the heart of our business model.” Proof of this can be found in stock indices such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, where Sims has been named for nine consecutive years. The company was one of the first to participate in the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) , and 2018 marked Sims’s 13th year participating in this leading carbon index. In 2018, Sims joined the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
In late October NERC presented its annual Distinguished Partnership Award to and its 2018 Environmental Sustainability Leadership Awards at a celebration attended by more than 150 people.
The Distinguished Partnership Award went to Samsung for its continued and impressive support of NERC, and for the leadership it shows in environmental sustainability and voluntary action.
Three outstanding programs in the Northeast were recognized:
“This is the second year of NERC’s Environmental Sustainability Leadership Awards and we were delighted by the number and quality of the nominees as well as the importance of the work they are doing,” commented Kaley Laleker of Maryland, the NERC Board President. “Selecting a winner was difficult, and ultimately the award committee decided to recognize a state project, a private sector initiative, and a municipal program. Each of the winners has achieved significant environmental results through its work in the Northeast.”
Connecticut’s multi-media What’s IN, What’s OUT Campaign, a project of the RecycleCT Foundation, seeks to increase awareness of Connecticut’s recycling rules. Contributing to the development and success of this campaign were the Connecticut MRFs, RecycleCT Board members, the firms of Decker and ReCollect, as well as the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recycling staff that kept all those parts working together. The What’s IN, What’s Out Campaign, has been engaging residents through digital and social media, generating more than 7.4 million impressions, 70,000 website visits, 104,000 RecycleCT Wizard searches and 1.9 million video views. Commissioner Robert Klee of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection accepted the award on behalf of the Campaign.
PaintCare, a program of the American Coatings Association, is a paint manufacturer stewardship program that provides improved end-of-life management of leftover paint. In the NERC region, PaintCare has programs in Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont. These programs conserve leftover latex and oil-based paint by offering the public convenient drop-off locations and diverting the paint from landfills and improper disposal. To date, PaintCare has processed more than 1.2 million gallons of paint in Connecticut; more than 326,000 gallons in Maine; in excess of 305,000 gallons in Rhode Island; and more than 438,000 gallons in Vermont.
PaintCare provides more than 360 drop-off locations in the region, including paint stores, transfer stations, and hazardous waste programs. Accepting the award on behalf of PaintCare was Marjaneh Zarrehparvar, the Executive Director at PaintCare.
The Village of Scarsdale, New York launched a municipal food scrap recycling program in January 2017, the first municipality in Westchester County to offer such a program. This food scrap recycling program has been remarkably successful and has quickly expanded to 10 additional municipalities in Westchester County and the lower Hudson Valley region area of New York. Since the Scarsdale program began, almost 336,000 lbs. of food scraps have been recycled into compost. Weekly collections currently exceed four tons and continue to increase as more households register to participate. Within the first 18 months, over 1,000 households registered, representing 18% of all Scarsdale households. Scarsdale’s food scrap recycling program is a model for other communities.
The award was accepted by Michelle Sterling, Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council; Benedict Salanitro, Scarsdale Superintendent of Public Works; and Ron Schulhof, Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council.
NERC’s Spring event has grown into a Conference that will be held on March 20 – 21 in Wilmington, Delaware. The Conference will focus on building the demand for mixed paper, mixed plastics, and glass cullet. The Conference agenda and registration will be available on NERC’s website in December.
For any questions regarding the Conference, please contact Mary Ann Remolador, Assistant Director & Events Organizer.
For each of its annual events, NERC convenes a committee to plan the agenda, develop the session contents, and identify speakers. The committee is made up of Board members and Advisory members. The Spring Conference Agenda Planning Committee is busily working to develop a great agenda.
NERC would like to thank the following volunteers for serving on the Spring Conference Committee:
If you are interested in joining the Committee or have questions about how it works, contact Mary Ann Remolador.
On April 9, 2019, in Hartford, CT, NERC in partnership with the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA) will hold a special workshop for municipal and state highway and public works departments and environmental officials about using recycled content in road and infrastructure projects. The daylong event will focus on case studies by peers who have successfully used shredded tires, glass, ground asphalt shingles, compost, and plastic with postconsumer content in highway and construction projects.
The organizers are looking for case studies and presenters. Please email your suggestions to Lynn Rubinstein, Executive Director to share your ideas.
On America Recycles Day, NERC was one of 44 organizations to sign a pledge
to work together to improve recycling through collaboration and communication.
Part of NERC staff’s responsibilities is making presentations about specific topics or projects at events and on webinars. Recently, Mary Ann Remolador, Assistant Director, presented the results of the NERC MRF Glass Survey Report on a glass panel at the Municipal Waste Management Association’s conference in Houston. She also presented the Glass Report findings (by webinar) for the October Connecticut Solid Waste Advisory Council Meeting.
Lynn Rubinstein, Executive Director, also made two presentations in October. The first was about the current state of recycling markets which was presented to the Connecticut Environmental Forum. She also spoke at E-scrap in New Orleans on the topic of Changing Material Streams in the Northeast, addressing the volume of material collected by state programs and changes over time. Both presentations are available upon request.
Lynn Rubinstein has been elected to the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) Board of Directors. A first time member of the Board, she will serve a three-year term.
Every year NERC publishes an annual report that chronicles its activities and accomplishments. The fiscal year 2018 report is now available. For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, Executive Director.
NERC, in collaboration with the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA) recently presented the Northeast Committee on the Environment (NECOE) a briefing paper about the state of recycling in the region. NECOE is a committee of the Council of Northeast Governors (CONEG), members being the leaders of the state environmental agencies in New England and New York. The briefing paper is available on the NERC website.
NERC has posted to its website a Summary of Announced Increased Capacity to Use Recycled Paper, an accounting of announced expansions of North American paperboard mills to use recycled paper as a raw material. Seventeen facilities, 15 in the US and two in northern Mexico, are on the list. Most of the facilities will be taking Old Corrugated Containers (OCC) as a raw material while a significant number will also use Residential Mixed Paper. The latter is the mainstay of curbside recycling programs and was recently banned from importation into China.
One new facility is designed to use paper cartons as its primary feedstock and one is designed for dirty paper generated at commercial establishments. Most of the US facilities are located east of the Mississippi River. Many are potentially good future markets for recycled paper generated in the NERC 11-state region.
The data in the list comes from a variety of publicly available sources including company press releases, local news stories, the recycling trade press and presentations at recycling conferences, including a presentation by the Fibre Box Association at the recent NERC Fall Conference.
The list was produced by the NERC-NEWMOA Regional Recycling Markets Committee. The Committee’s goal is to identify and implement strategies to promote and enhance recycling markets in the region.
On November 14, NERC hosted a webinar to discuss curbside collection and recycling of flexible packaging. The webinar featured the pilot flexible packaging recycling project that JP Mascaro is engaged in with RRS. The webinar speakers included: Susan Graff, Principal and Vice President of Global Corporate Sustainability for RRS; Joseph (JP) Mascaro, Director of Total Recycle and Director of Sustainability for J.P. Mascaro & Sons; and Chris King, Field Engineer for RRS.
Following are links to the webinar presentation and recording, as well a link to RRS’ business case for flexible packaging recycling:
Contact Mary Ann Remolador, Assistant Director, with any questions regarding the webinar.
The Baker-Polito Administration has awarded more than $1 million in grants to six companies under the Recycling Business Development Grant (RBDG) program, which will enable the companies to better process and manage glass, wood, plastics and mixed recyclables. The grant program, administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), will expand the recycling operations and increase the amount and quality of recycling now occurring at 120 Old Boston Road Recycling Co. of Wilbraham; Aaron Industries Corp. of Leominster; Casella Waste Management of Massachusetts, Auburn; J M Equipment Co. of East Freetown; Champion City Recovery of Stoughton; and United Material Management of Millbury.
"Partnering with private businesses and local stakeholders is a vital part of our efforts to increase and improve recycling in Massachusetts to protect our natural resources and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions," said Governor Charlie Baker. "These recycling grants will support local businesses, grow the economy and make the Commonwealth more sustainable."
"Increasing recycling opportunities for hard-to-recycle materials in communities across the Commonwealth will help significantly reduce our waste stream, while creating jobs and stimulating the economy," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. "With this grant program, we are investing in infrastructure to better manage those materials that private industry can collect and convert into valuable end-products."
The RBDG program targets difficult-to-recycle materials, including glass, wood, plastics, and mixed recyclables. This most-recent round of grants will fund projects that promote materials recovery and will build the state's infrastructure to better manage these materials. As a condition of receiving funding, grant recipients commit to meeting tonnage goals over a two-year period.
"To reach our waste reduction and recycling goals, we need businesses across the state to join us in our campaign to productively reuse more and more of these valuable materials," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. "Investments like this support the growth of Massachusetts businesses, while helping to reduce pollution and protecting our environment for future generations."
"Massachusetts has a goal to reduce our trash disposal by 2 million tons annually by 2020, and under our updated Solid Waste Master Plan for 2020-2030, we will seek to better that goal," said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. "The businesses receiving these grants will help to keep these valuable materials out of the waste stream and, instead, turn them into new products, valuable compost or a renewable energy source."
The grant recipients are:
Company: 120 Old Boston Road Recycling Company, LLC
Project Description: 120 Old Boston Road Recycling Company, LLC operates a construction and demolition processing facility that accepts and processes mixed construction and demolition debris materials. 120 Old Boston Road Recycling requested funds to purchase new sorting equipment that will enable them to separate clean wood from incoming construction and demolition material. This processing equipment will enable the facility to separate up to 4,000 tons of wood per year for recycling.
Company: Aaron Industries Corp.
Project Description: Aaron Industries Corp. is a manufacturer and distributor of polypropylene, polystyrene and polyethylene. Grant funding will be used, in part, to procure an ADG Solutions Automatic Screen Changer for processing post-consumer and post-industrial polypropylene and polystyrene. This machine will significantly increase through-put volume; reduce downtime by continuous extrusion; increase raw material flexibility; and reduce production waste by 96 percent. Further, the new machine will allow Aaron Industries to purchase materials previously determined to be too difficult to process due to high levels of contaminants, such as post-consumer material from municipal recycling facilities, and increase tonnage by 320 tons per year.
Company: Casella Waste Management of MA
Project Description: Casella Waste Management of MA is a fully integrated, solid waste organization, processing and marketing more than 270,000 tons of traditional recycling material in the state. Grant funding will be used, in part, to fund a facility retrofit to allow for additional processing capacity and to increase the value of existing fiber product lines. The retrofit will increase the tonnage capacity of the facility by 12,000 tons per year.
Company: J M Equipment Co., Inc.
Project Description: J M Equipment Co., Inc. operates an aggregate and fill business. Grant funding will be used, in part, to procure a Metso LT 1213 Impact Crusher. This machine will allow the grantee to process container glass into processed glass aggregate (PGA) that meets Massachusetts Department of Transportation and MassDEP specifications for PGA. This equipment will allow the company to process up to 12,000 tons of glass per year into PGA.
Company: Champion City Recovery, LLC (d/b/a Stoughton Recycling)
Project Description: Champion City Recovery, LLC operates a construction and demolition processing facility that accepts and processes mixed construction and demolition debris materials. Stoughton Recycling is requesting funds to purchase equipment for a quality control line that will enable them to separate clean wood from incoming construction and demolition material. This processing equipment will enable the facility to separate an additional 1,200 tons of wood per year for recycling.
Company: United Material Management of Millbury, LLC
Project Description: United Material Management of Millbury operates a construction and demolition processing facility that accepts and processes mixed construction and demolition debris materials. UMM requested funds to purchase optical sorting equipment to increase the yield of clean wood the facility produces. This new processing equipment will enable the facility to separate an additional 4,500 tons of wood per year for recycling.
The RDBG program is one of a number of efforts by the Baker-Polito Administration to promote recycling efforts across the Commonwealth. Previous programs have included the awarding of $2.6 million in recycling grants to 247 communities and solid waste districts to help reduce the waste stream and maximize materials reuse and recycling; the announcement of a new “Recycle Smart” initiative and web site to emphasize the importance of putting only the proper materials into the recycling bin; and the unveiling of the Recycling IQ Kit program to help municipalities educate residents on how to better recycle in order to remove contaminants from the recycling stream and make those materials more attractive to the world’s commodity markets.
Advisory Member Updates
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), in conjunction with the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR), recognized and honored the Delaware River and Bay Authority’s (DRBA) Cape May Ferry Terminal operation for its recycling excellence, naming the operation a 2018 Rising Star at a special award ceremony held at the Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune, NJ.
Albert Fralinger III, Environmental Compliance and Safety Manager for the DRBA, accepted the award on behalf of the bi-state agency. “We’re pleased and honored to be recognized by both NJDEP and ANJR for our recycling efforts at the Cape May Ferry Terminal,” Fralinger said. “It’s a credit to our employees who embraced the effort to broaden our recycling program. We look forward to building on our aggressive environmental recycling initiatives.” The Cape May Ferry Terminal, which is operated by the DRBA, instituted facility-wide waste management and recycling changes to improve policies, practices, data management, site infrastructure, supplier relations, local and regional government outreach, customer support and employee environmental and recycling education and awareness.
This holistic approach has resulted in significantly more material being recycled by staff and customers. In 2017, the Cape May Ferry Terminal recycled 38% of its solid waste. The Cape May Ferry Terminal recycles a diverse mix of materials including paper, cardboard, plastic, scrap metal, used cooking oil, e-waste, lamps and lighting waste, used oil, batteries and oil filters. NJDEP’s goal with the program is to highlight the success of NJ agencies, businesses, individuals and others who go beyond the norm to advance recycling and to make these examples available to others who may emulate them. Each year, NJDEP and ANJR co-sponsor this symposium and luncheon, where recycling awards are presented to outstanding businesses, organizations, local government agencies, and individuals who have made significant contributions to recycling in New Jersey.
MSW Consultants, LLC has announced the hire of Phil Bresee as a Senior Consultant. Mr. Bresee joined the MSW team in November 2018 and brings more than 25 years of industry experience managing public sector programs and serving in leadership positions in statewide recycling organizations.
“We’re very excited to have someone with Phil’s experience and standing join our team. He has developed and led some very high-profile programs, particularly during his time with the City of Philadelphia and in Broward County, Florida,” said Company president Walt Davenport.
“Phil’s has been successful everywhere he’s been. His considerable solid waste planning experience and reputation as one of the thought leaders in our industry will be real assets as we expand services to our client base,” MSW vice president John Culbertson added.
Bresee comes to MSW from the Washington, DC suburb of Arlington, Virginia where he has managed collection and processing programs and contracts, public outreach and education programs, the County’s mandatory commercial and multi-family recycling system, and solid waste planning efforts since early 2016. Arlington County has committed to achieving zero waste by 2038, becoming the first Virginia jurisdiction to do so.
From 2012 into 2016 Bresee was the Recycling Program Director for the City of Philadelphia, one of the largest recycling and solid waste programs in the U.S. Here he helped guide solid waste planning and stakeholder engagement efforts, directed outreach and engagement strategies, and managed contracts and grants. Phil helped negotiate and manage one of the largest MRF contracts in the U.S. (125,000 tons) during the outset of China’s Operation Green Fence, and was instrumental in developing programmatic measures to monitor and improve on materials residue and contamination.
From January 2004 until June 2012, Phil was the recycling program manager in Broward County, Florida where he led a comprehensive suite of programs and initiatives on behalf of the county and its resource recovery system, which included 26 cities and the Broward County School Board. Some of Phil’s accomplishments and projects in Broward County included a $20 million residential grants program that eventually brought single-stream recycling and carts-based collections to more than 300,000 households, and an innovative project that examined the feasibility of using processed glass with sand for beach re-nourishment and erosion control projects.
Phil started his career with his home of Frederick County, Maryland before moving to Howard County, Maryland where he served as the recycling division chief until late 2003.
Mr. Bresee also has a long history with State Recycling Organizations, serving on the boards of the Maryland Recyclers Coalition (MRC, now the Maryland Recycling Network), Recycle Florida Today (RFT), and the Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania (PROP). He served as MRC’s president in 2003 and served as the chair of RFT from 2007 until 2009. He is also a member of the National Recycling Coalition, and SWANA. Bresee has a B.S. in Political Science and performed graduate level work in business and public administration.
This past September, the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority (Pennsylvania), along with partners Weis Markets and Trex Company, Inc. kicked off a poster contest that was open to all 5th grade students in Centre County. The students were asked to design a poster around the theme “Healthy Kids, Healthy Earth.” We received hundreds of entries, and on October 15, eighteen posters created by twenty artists were selected as our winners.
We would like to congratulate the following students for their winning posters:
The 18 winning posters will be made into a 2019 “Healthy Kids, Healthy Earth” wall calendar that will be distributed to all 5th grade students in Centre County this December. The calendars will also be available free of charge at all five Centre County Weis Markets stores and around the community.
In addition to having their artwork appear in the calendar, the students have each won a Trex composite lumber garden bed for their school.
We honored all 18 students at an awards ceremony that was held on Thursday, November 15, America Recycles Day, at the Weis Markets store in Bellefonte. At the ceremony, each student was presented with a framed picture of their poster, a copy of the 2019 calendar and a $25 Weis Markets gift card.
Over the next month, all eighteen winning posters will be highlighted on the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority’s Facebook and Twitter pages and an article will appear in an upcoming copy of the Centre County Recycles newsletter.
Of General Interest
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.
In addition to offering environmental benefits, battery recycling is an important act because it helps protect people and property. Batteries, especially Lithium-based ones, that are thrown in the trash present a risk of a spark, which could lead to a fire. With more and more batteries ending up in the waste stream, there is a growing risk (as noted by recent media headlines) of fires during transport and at local Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) and Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) locations.
To help consumers understand the ‘hidden dangers’ of tossing batteries, Call2Recycle recently partnered with industry leaders and Bay Area county municipalities on a pilot battery safety campaign, Avoid the Spark. Be Battery Safety Smart.TM The public safety education effort is aimed to reduce safety incidents through engagement of local partners and sharing of informational resources. By spotlighting the need for proper handling, management, transport and disposal of batteries, the goal is to shift consumer behavior to protect everyone involved in the battery recycling journey. Campaign resources can be found by visiting www.avoidthespark.com.
As you’re gathering with family and friends this holiday season, remember to add battery recycling to your holiday ‘to do’ list. You can find a convenient Call2Recycle drop-off location near you: https://www.call2recycle.org/locator/. It’s a good deed for the planet and a simple way to keep your community safe.
During the last 12 months, I have spoken about China and recycling at a dozen or so webinars and recycling conferences in both the United States and Canada. I’ve also written a number of columns about this situation. Each time, I have made three major points.
The first is that market upheaval—and this latest price collapse—is nothing new in recycling. Recyclables, after all, are raw materials. Like all raw materials, they are commodities. Unfortunately, recyclables have some of the biggest price fluctuations of most commodities. This is largely because they are at the tail end of raw material purchases in terms of reliable quality and quantity.
The current downturn is the sixth significant downturn since 1990. The biggest difference among them seems to be the number of “the recycling sky is falling” articles they generate in the press. This latest downturn has been a field day for the pessimists. I don’t understand this collective amnesia about market downturns. I suspect it is caused, in part, by the giddiness of bull markets.
The second is that entrepreneurs will see opportunity in this raw material and will figure out how to take advantage of it. The collapse of markets in the early 1990s led to an explosion in new end markets. Both number and capacity of domestic recycled paper mills and of recycled plastic processors and end users increased dramatically. By late 1993, bad markets were an afterthought until markets went sour several years later. Then, they went up and down a number of times, and, now, here we are.
We’ve also seen capacity increases announced for various plastic grades. In many cases, the new facilities are owned by Chinese companies and intended to make pellets or resins that can be shipped to end markets in China. As yet, they appear to be more focused on individual resins and not on curbside mixed plastics.
Most of the new facilities are located east of the Mississippi. I’m not sure why this is, but I suspect it is a function of state support for economic development. Eastern states seem to be working harder than western states to attract these new opportunities. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the newly opened rPlanet Earth facility in Vernon, Calif. PET recycling will get a major boost from this new processor.
It’s an odd reflection of the intensity of this expansion in paper and plastic end markets, but the last three or four times I have spoken about China at a conference, my slide deck was out-of-date after I e-mailed it to the conference organizers. In each case, a new paper mill or plastic processor had been announced after I went final. Maybe I should speak at more conferences and see if I can keep this streak alive.
The third point has to do with our failure to learn from the past. Veteran scrap dealers know markets will sour every four or five years. They expect it. They plan for it. Curbside recyclers and materials recovery facility operators and local governments need to adopt this mindset. We need to start thinking long term instead of short term. We need to start learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them. When markets are hot again, we need to take a deep breath, not get giddy and avoid making contracts we will regret when markets get cold. If we don’t, then I expect to write this column five or six years from now when the next market downturn occurs.
Chaz Miller is a longtime veteran of the waste and recycling industry and member of the NERC Board of Directors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the U.S., the week of Christmas is the highest-selling week for all food and beverage categories. Half of us start our holiday shopping in October, with shopping on Thanksgiving evening becoming a favorite American activity. Retailers feel increasingly pressured to drive consumer demand, purchasing, and revenue during the Christmas holiday season, via “deals, promotions and distribution strategies”. Meanwhile, consumers get ever more stressed over holiday shopping and competing to obtain the latest in electronics, toys, fashions, and other goods.
According to Deloitte’s 2018 Holiday Survey of Consumers:
Two interesting things to note in the holiday consumption picture are: 1) “Experience” purchases—home entertaining or socializing away from home (trips, concerts, movies, etc.)—are anticipated to comprise 40 percent of our holiday gift purchasing; as compared with the procurement of gifts (clothing, toys, games, electronics, etc.) accounting for one-third of total holiday spending; and 2) According to Deloitte’s survey, about two-thirds of shoppers are “willing to pay extra” for “socially compliant, sustainable products,” a development reportedly being driven by younger shoppers.
The Downside—Holiday Waste
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans generate an astounding three times as much food waste as at other times of the year. Generally, household food waste results from poor meal planning, over-purchasing, inadequate food storage, and confusion over product “best by” expiration date labels. However, there are some reasons for food waste that maybe unique to Christmas. It goes without saying that many people find the holiday season hectic, and there is certainly more disruption in our daily routines, contributing to even less meal planning, more impulsive food purchases, burnt food, and ultimately more waste. For the holiday festivities, we also strive to impress our guests with the variety and amounts of food we offer, leading to loads of leftovers that tend to languish in our refrigerators until thrown out.
Additionally, holiday-related items such as bows and ribbons, packaging, wrapping paper, and food waste, contribute to an additional 1 million tons of waste a week during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
Yet, there are many ways we can enjoy holiday meals without generating mounds of food waste. For Christmas mealtime specifics, consult the “Christmas Dinner Calculator” or Good Housekeeping’s “How to feed a crowd at Christmas” for meal planning ideas and recommended portions.
For a nation wanting to create more jobs and build local economies, one of the best things we can do is limit online and mass-market retail shopping. The growth of “experience gifts” purchasing is certainly a step in the right direction. Purchasing items from local or regionally owned stores serves to support our local economies.
Given that clothing purchases still account for half of our holiday gift purchases, perhaps an examination of all the mounds of textiles tossed each year would help reduce investment in even more clothing!
Shopping for local or regionally made items—everything from art to food, to wine and toys, can help to ensure that our dollars stay local. Moreover, there is typically less packaging waste generated and our purchases are usually more durable (or tasty!).
Peace, Joy, and Less Trash for the Holidays - From the NERC Staff
Te terms “mixed paper” and “mixed plastic” are frequently used in the context of discussions about the quality of materials collected in residential recycling programs and the impact on end-markets because of China’s import bans,
Mixed paper is simply different types of recyclable paper mixed together. For instance, phone books, magazines, envelopes, junk mail, office paper, paperboard packaging, or any kind of paper that is not corrugated cardboard or newspaper is considered mixed paper. Not included in mixed paper are papers that are not recyclable, such as tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels.
Like mixed paper, the term mixed plastic is a description rather than a commodity class of recyclables. It is a short-hand term for plastics collected from residential recycling programs that are not #1 or #2 plastic containers; in general #3 - #7.