New Sustaining Member
Renewing Supporting Members
New & Renewing MembershipsMembership is key to NERC's regional and national commitment to sustainable materials management. We are delighted to welcome a new Sustaining Member - Organix Solutions. Organix Solutions had been a Supporting Member for several years and has enhanced their membership to the Sustaining level. We also would like to thank renewing Supporting Members: Addison County Solid Waste Management District, Vermont; Chittenden Solid Waste District, Vermont; City of Reading, Pennsylvania; Connecticut Recyclers Coalition; and Mott MacDonald.
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.
NERC’s Fall Conference and 30th Anniversary will be held at the Lord Jeffery Inn in Amherst, Massachusetts. This is a great historic venue that is sure to sell out quickly. NERC’s block rate of $110 per night is a great deal, but is only available until September 11th. If you’re interested in staying at the Lord Jeff, call in your reservation today at 413-256-8200 or 800-742-0358.
The great line up of speakers for NERC’s Conference on November 13th – 14th are sure to deliver thought-provoking presentations and create in-depth discussions about some of recycling’s most relevant topics—Sustainable Materials Management Solutions, Changes to Brand Name Companies’ Recycling Involvement Over the Decades, Extended Producer Responsibility, Recycling Train the Trainers, Plastic Grocery Bag Recycling, State of C&D Recycling in the Northeast, Role of Reuse, and the Right To Repair. They include:
Join us for the Conference and celebrate NERC's 30th Anniversary!
30th ANNIVERSARY PLATINUM SPONSOR
For more information, contact Mary Ann Remolador, NERC's Assistant Director & Conference Organizer.
Through NERC’s new awards program you have an opportunity to be recognized for the impact that you have made on sustainable materials management. Nominations will be accepted through September 7, 2017 via an online application form. Don't miss out!
Please consider nominating yourself or another worthy organization or individual. There are three award categories:
- Public sector
- Private sector
- Student or young professional – under 40 years of age
- Public sector
- Private sector
For more information, contact Lynn Rubinstein, firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-254-3636.
Long-time NERC Board Member from Maine, George MacDonald, has stepped down from the Board and Megan Pryor has been appointed in his stead. Megan is an Environmental Specialist with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, where she oversees and administers the paint, mercury thermostat, and mercury lamp product stewardship programs. Megan provides outreach, education, and technical assistance, working with municipalities and businesses to meet specific situational needs in waste reduction and recycling efforts.
Megan is currently pursuing a Certificate of Graduate Study in Sustainable Development at the Muskie School of Public Service. Megan graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern Maine with a BA in Environmental Planning and Policy, where she discovered her passion for working on sustainable materials management.
NERC's Board and staff wish express their tremendous thanks and appreciation to George for his outstanding engagement and leadership over the years.
Kaley Laleker of the Maryland Department of the Environment (the Department) has been elected as the NERC Vice President of the Board for fiscal year 2017. Kaley is the Deputy Director of the Land Management Administration at the Department. The Land Management Administration includes the Solid Waste, Resource Management, Oil Control, Lead Poisoning Prevention, Mining, and Land Restoration Programs. Kaley formerly worked in the Resource Management Program, primarily on composting and other recycling issues, and in the Director’s Office on regulations, legislation, and other issues affecting the Land Management Administration's work. She has a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and has been with the Department for 5 years.
Ex Officio Board Members, Chaz Miller and Chip Foley, have been re-elected to one year terms on the NERC Board. This will be their third year of serving on the Board.
Walter J. “Chip” Foley, a graduate of Penn State, started his career with the Federal Election Commission in 1976. He got his true start in public policy by serving over 7 years on the personal staff of Pa Governor Dick Thornburgh’s Washington office working on agriculture, military, insurance and environmental issues. In 1988 he became the first director of the Coalition of Northeastern Governors’ Source Reduction Council. That position led to his recruitment by the steel industry to open a Washington D.C. office for the Steel Can Recycling Institute (eventually becoming the Steel Recycling Institute). Chip continued in that position as Vice President - - promoting the recyclability and recycled content of steel to decision makers. In addition, he held the position of Director of Public Policy for the American Iron and Steel Institute’s Steel Market Development Institute. He was an advisory member of the Northeast Recycling Council, past Chair of the industry sector of the National Lt. Governors Association, and Vice President for public policy on the Board for the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships. Chip retired from the steel industry in May, 2014. Chip continues to be a contributor to the on-going work of the Toxics in Packaging Clearinghouse and the Northeast Recycling Council. Chip is also a member of the Titanic Historical Society.
Chaz Miller worked for EPA’s solid waste office doing recycling and other waste-related work. After a stint at the Glass Packaging Institute, he came to NSWMA in 1991. He has worked on a variety of issues facing recycling waste waste management including market development, state recycling legislation, extended producer responsibility, flow control, interstate and international waste shipments, truck safety, transfer station siting and organics management. He has testified at state and Congressional hearings. Chaz has been a keynoter and speaker at recycling and solid waste conferences in the United States, Canada, Japan and China. He writes “The Circular File”, an award-winning column for Waste 360.
Since its inception in 1987, NERC has worked on many regional and national projects specifically addressing recycling market development. NERC is well-known for its work on specific recycled materials, including paper, electronics, and organics.
During its first 15 years, NERC worked on front end issues, assisting in the development of recycling material markets and providing assistance to recycling entrepreneurs. Some of this work included: working with national industry associations to incorporate recycled materials in feedstock, as a strategy for ensuring demand for recycled materials; educating financiers and economic developers about the viability of recycling businesses and how commodity markets work, in order to increase their acceptance of a nascent industry; and providing direct technical assistance to recycling entrepreneurs, while preparing them for approaching financiers for capital funding.
During the past 15 years, NERC’s focus has targeted the back end issue of increasing recycling collection. This has involved assisting states, towns, businesses, and schools with increasing recycling rates, by setting up and re-defining collection programs. This work has also included conducting pilot collection programs, providing trainings, and developing numerous resource materials (available on NERC’s website). In the past 5 years, NERC also began working on reuse issues.
Below is a chronological listing of highlights of NERC’s work on recycling market development projects and initiatives:
Rural and Small Town Organics Management – developed best management practices for organics collection and management in Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.
Marketing On-Farm Compost for Sustainability and Economic Viability – technical assistance to support farmers in marketing of compost in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and New Hampshire.
New York State's Recycling Markets Database – developed and maintained database of reuse and recycling businesses servicing New York and contiguous states.
Diverting Special Event Food Waste to Commercial Composting – implemented five pilot projects at special events to demonstrate collection of food scraps for commercial composting Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont).
Recycling Economic Information (REI) Study Update - updated the REI Study data for four of the Northeast states (Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania). More information about the original REI Study listed under the year 2000.
Recycling Makes Sen$e – provided technical assistance and training to towns, schools, and businesses about re-defining their recycling collection programs to capture more recyclables (Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont).
Rural Special Event Waste Management – provided technical assistance, conducted waste audits, and developed a Best Management Practices Guidebook for Special Event-Generated Waste in Rural Communities.
Materials Exchange Marketing Plan - developed a marketing plan for New England and New York Materials Exchanges to enable them to develop a no- or low-cost outreach program for diverting more materials to reuse.
E-Waste Toolkit - a three-part resource for setting up electronics recycling programs, with sections about setting up electronics collections; business plan guidance for new electronics recycling entrepreneurs; and a compendium of state, federal and other resources for recycling business development, financing, technical assistance, and regulatory and compliance issues.
Rural Electronics Collection Project – designed and implemented demonstration electronics collection programs in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
Recycling Finance Seminars for Business Development Specialists - developed a one-day seminar for business service providers to prepare them for assisting recycling businesses in which they might invest.
Recycling Economic Information Study - released the first Recycling Economic Information Study in the U.S., which provided baseline information about reuse and recycling industries in the Northeast states: the number of businesses per industry sector, employment levels and wages, and annual revenues. It was later followed by a national study prepared by the National Recycling Coalition.
Old Newspaper and Old Magazine Supply Study – documented the availability of feedstock to fuel new capacity for producing recycled-content newsprint.
Yellow Page Publishers Association (YPPA) Environmental Action Plan – Assisted YPPA in developing the organization's Environmental Action Plan to reduce the environmental impacts of telephone directories.
In early August, NERC staff provided training on home and community composting of food scraps for the Bennington Community Garden in Bennington, Vermont. About a dozen gardeners participated in the program, which included a lecture and a hands-on demonstration of incorporating food scraps into small-scale compost systems.
NERC is also providing technical assistance and training to participants in a three-year pilot project to develop, monitor and evaluate small-scale, self-sustaining food scrap composting systems at community gardens in Vermont. The project was developed by the Composting Association of Vermont and the Vermont Community Garden Network, with funding from the High Meadows Fund and participating Vermont Solid Waste Districts. NERC staff conducted a site inspection and provided technical assistance at the Ludlow Community Garden’s kick-off of its food scraps composting project. A webinar was also hosted with 33 participants; in September, a one-day training will be offered to anyone interested in learning more about community composting of food scraps.
NERC Programs Manager Athena Lee Bradley joined Mark Hutchinson, Maine Extension Professor/Maine Compost School Instructor, as trainers for a two-day training for compost operators, held in early August. The training was organized by the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission.
The training was held at Always Something Farm, a compost facility in Croydon, New Hampshire, with which NERC had previously worked in its Marketing On-Farm Compost for Sustainability and Economic Viability project. A lively group of 30 aspiring compost operators from around the region participated, including transfer station and solid waste district staff from New Hampshire and Vermont, an Assistant Extension Educator at University of Connecticut, and two start-up composters from Rhode Island.
Mark Hutchinson included great hands-on exercises from the Maine Compost School to test the newfound knowledge of participants, including some interesting feedstock to use in developing compost recipes.
NERC also discussed worm composting with campers at One World Conservation Center in Bennington. The excited campers learned all about worms, vermicomposting, and how to harvest worm castings for use as soil amendment.
NERC’s work on these exciting activities is funded through a USDA grant.
For more information contact Athena Lee Bradley.
A new study commissioned by Maryland Department of the Environment found that nearly 70% of materials sent to landfills could be composted or recycled.
System Delivers Online Permitting, Greater Data Accessibility, and Government Transparency
The Baker-Polito Administration has launched the first phase of a transformative environmental data and public information access system. The new system will deliver online permitting, greater data accessibility, and provide increased transparency in state government operations for businesses and stakeholder groups across the Commonwealth and the public at-large. The Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access System (EIPAS) will provide the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and its agencies with a modern, digital platform to more efficiently and effectively execute its mission of protecting the Commonwealth’s environmental and energy resources. The first phase establishes online permitting for 30 permits, which includes many for air quality, hazardous waste, solid waste, Toxic Use Reduction, water supply, special use permits and pesticides.
“Providing timely environmental and energy permitting options for businesses and immediate public access to relevant state data and documents are important and responsive services for state government to provide,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This new, innovative system will bolster those processes and make the public-private dynamic more interactive.”
“With technology rapidly evolving and improving, it is essential that governmental agencies keep up with the needs of the public,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Importantly, the Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access System will enable finding environmental and energy information online in real time.”
EEA has implemented online permitting for some permits through EIPAS for three agencies: the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP); the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Pesticide Applicator Licenses; and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Special Use Permits (coming soon for the 2018 season). As part of the first phase, virtually all of MassDEP’s air quality permits can now be submitted online.
“The EIPAS initiative will update EEA’s existing legacy systems by replacing them with a highly functional and integrated online system,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This is just the beginning of the process, as we plan to implement additional phases and agency permits over the next year that will continue to increase automation, improve citizen experiences, and increase governmental transparency.”
Through EIPAS, EEA and its agencies have also activated two public-facing online portals:
“The online data portal is a ground-breaking initiative that provides a way to search MassDEP permitting, facility, inspection and enforcement data all at once,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “The portal allows traditional search capabilities and enables the user to link a specific permit back to a regulated facility and then to inspections or enforcement actions associated with that facility.”
“EIPAS is a tremendous, positive game-changer for one of MDAR's largest customer groups: licensed pesticide applicators,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “With this system's introduction, our customers may now quickly and conveniently process essential licensing and examination transactions on-line, a vast improvement over the previous method.”
“The Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access System will truly benefit those seeking permits from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and other agencies by streamlining and simplifying the process,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “This new system is an excellent example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s priority to make state government more user friendly for businesses, the public, and other stakeholders.”
The initial phases of EIPAS are permitting and the online data portals. The permitting component of EIPAS is part of a larger Commonwealth-wide online permitting initiative, “ePLACE,” which stands for Permitting, Licensing, Authorizations, Certifications and Eligibility. When fully implemented, EIPAS will include features that support key regulatory business processes, including permitting, compliance and enforcement tracking, and online reporting.
The fully implemented EIPAS platform will provide benefits and value to citizens and the regulated community by growing the Commonwealth’s ability to:
The ePermitting “ePLACE” portal can be found here.
The Information Data portal can be found here.
CleanSweepNYis a program that offers chemical waste disposal services to agricultural and non-agricultural entities such as farmers, owners of former farms, NYS certified pesticide applicators, landscapers, tree service providers, pest management companies, golf courses, cemeteries, marinas, and schools. Homeowners may not participate and are encouraged to take advantage of their Hazardous Household Waste collection programs. The CleanSweepNY collection program also accepts for recycling triple-rinsed HDPE (#2) plastic pesticide containers.
Each container of unwanted or outdated pesticides or hazardous chemicals collected through this program helps to keep these materials out our conventional waste streams and landfills. Through proper disposal and recycling of these materials, CleanSweepNY is helping to preserve the quality of the state's natural resources, groundwater and surface water in particular.
The CleanSweepNY program was started in 2002 as a NYSDEC Environmental Benefit Project with a funding level at $2.2 million from three pesticide compliance cases. Funding is administered by the Natural Heritage Trust while the program is administered by NYSDEC Central Office staff in Albany and regional staff across the state.
CleanSweepNY targets counties within each NYSDEC region with usually two collections per year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Pre-registration is required.
Since the program’s inception in 2002, twenty-three collection programs have taken place across New York State with between two and five locations used during each collection program.
CleanSweepNY is on its third cycle across New York State and has thus far collected for disposal over 1.73 million pounds of chemical wastes, over 5,000 plastic pesticide containers, and over 879 pounds of elemental mercury.
CleanSweepNY has provided these services to over 2,852 entities including 1,288 from the agricultural community and 1,564 from the non-agricultural community, which includes 586 laboratory chemical collections from schools across the state.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reducing its environmental footprint by undertaking numerous sustainability projects each year. These projects, which range from diverting organics from landfills to reducing energy use, decrease DEC's impact on the environment, save money and provide examples of actions citizens can take to be more environmentally friendly and save money. “Being good stewards of New York's environment means limiting our impact on our natural resources," said Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Sustainability is a journey, not a destination, and the agency will continue this important work to ensure a better environment and future for all New Yorkers." For more details, go to http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/110755.html.
Advisory Member Updates
June was a special month at Keurig Green Mountain (Keurig). On Tuesday, June 13, Keurig launched its twelfth annual Sustainability Report, showcasing Keurig’s efforts in local communities and across the globe, including environmental responsibility. The report reiterates that a top priority continues to be ensuring 100% of Keurig® K-Cup® pods are recyclable by the end of 2020. Then, on Tuesday, June 20, Keurig announced an additional target milestone: it aims to produce 100% recyclable K-Cup® pods in Canada by the end of 2018.
To celebrate the announcement, Keurig Canada’s President Stephane Glorieux kicked things off with a LinkedIn post, sharing the company’s commitment to brewing a better world by sourcing and making our products the right way, for the long-term. Excerpts include:
“We’re excited to offer Canadians a solution that works. In tests conducted with a number of recyclers across North America, we found that on average 90% of Keurig’s recyclable K-Cup® pods have the potential to be processed and captured in a recycling facility, a rate comparable to soft drink and water bottles.”
“We designed our recyclable K-Cup® pods with the end in mind. Keurig has been partnering with recyclers across North America for the past two years to ensure that our pods are valued and can easily travel from recycling bins at homes to recovery facilities to a useful second life as a new durable good. They’re made of polypropylene, a material that’s widely accepted for recycling in Canada, and yields a much higher market value to them because of the growing demand for that recovered material.”
In processing shredder residue, whether from a small scrapyard or a multimillion-dollar car shredder, the integrated metal recovery systems utilized have moved on from a simple shredder and magnets to sophisticated systems that can include sorters (eddy and optical), rare earth magnets and air tables, to name a few.
In North America, the typical focus has been to increase the recovery of metals found in material greater than the ½” to 1” range. Now, many operators are interested in processing this ½” and smaller material.
The reason for this interest is due to:
While there are economic benefits to processing this material, its complex nature and intertwined (co-mingled) properties call for a different processing approach to those used in processing larger fraction sizes.
BHS has installed many systems for ½” to 1” material using the BHS rotary impact mill (RPMV model). To process material less than ½”, BHS has introduced and installed the RPMX rotary impact mill.
In Europe, our customers have found that the selling price of non-ferrous metals was significantly higher—an ROI of between 9 and 18 months has been achieved.
New Processing For Shredder Fines & Additional Benefits
The BHS Fines System is a two-stage process. The initial stage is a mechanical step that focuses on cleaning the metals and the separation of composite compounds.
The second stage focuses on the separation of the material into fractions with similar density properties. The Fines System can be operated as part of a new complete system or added to an existing metals recovery process. Alternatively, the Fines System can be operated as a stand-alone process, either at the same site or at a satellite location. For operators with multiple primary processing plants, a stand-alone system allows them to build a single system conveniently located to service multiple facilities.
The BHS rotary impact mills (Models RPMV or RPMX) are the key to the recovery of the material. The model RPMV is for ½” to 1” input material and the model RPMX is for input material of ½” and less. Both units crush the brittle material (minerals, glass, etc.), liberate the complex composites and shape the non-ferrous material into balls. For the RPMV the output material ranges from 5 to 30 mm, and for the RPMX the range is 0 to 15 mm.
During the mechanical crushing stage, the input material—which is often dirty, long, flat and composite— is cleaned and balled, allowing for more efficient separation in subsequent processing stages. Non-ferrous output materials are cleaned and shaped into dense balls during the process, which is necessary for a clean separation from other materials in the downstream process.
Each loaded batch is recirculated through the mill and “concentrated” to the required level of purity demanded by the end-user. Before each loop, light material and dust are separated out and discharged from the mill. This is necessary to ensure the machine has the maximum effect on the non-ferrous metals. The rotor speed, mill gap and the number of cycles are adjustable so that the process is optimized to each individual operator’s input material and desired end product requirement.
Stage 2 – Separation
After the last cycle in the rotor impact mill, the material passes to a surge hopper and onto a screening deck. The screen separates it into either three or four fractions (0 to 3 mm, 3 to 6 mm, 6 to 12 mm and greater than 12 mm). Screen cuts are chosen to ensure optimum density-specific recovery, with the fractions separated into “heavy” and “light” categories. The heavy material containing the metallic components is separated into magnetic and non-magnetic fractions using magnetic separators.
The non-ferrous metals are then immediately separated into heavy (copper, precious metals and brass, for example) and light (aluminum and zinc, for example) fractions. This ensures that all of the metals are cleanly separated into density-specific fractions during a single processing stage without having to be reintroduced to a previous process within the plant. Moreover, the plant also generates a light fraction that primarily consists of plastic pieces. This fraction is suitable for thermal utilization and does not need to be disposed of at landfills.
The design of the system allows for virtually continuous operation.
Results & Economic Benefits
Operating systems are achieving throughputs as high as 11 tph of highly clean non-ferrous metals. While every operation has its own financial picture, customers have reported an increase in the price per ton of material, allowing for an ROI ranging from 9 to 18 months.
Finally, the process is automated so that staffing is at a minimum. In a typical installation, only one employee is required to control and monitor the plant while another is required to devote half of their time to material handling.
Conclusions & BHS Testing Center of Excellence
The BHS Shredder Fines Processing System provides both economic and operating benefits, with the two-stage approach allowing for increased revenue resulting from the “balling” effect of the BHS mills and improved separation. There is also the added benefit of plastics recovery. The system has low manpower needs, so resources are not diverted from other areas of the site. Finally, the BHS testing center of excellence, shown in Figure 6, allows BHS to run your material and prove these results.
Full test reports—including economic justifications, production scale-up and detailed photographs—complete the report. The BHS approach to testing and idea generation provides clients with optimized process solutions for critical and difficult material conditioning and separations.
The BHS Fines treatment and separation plant can be used to increase the value and yields of recovered non-ferrous metals from a variety of fines feedstocks. These range from automotive shredder residues to materials such as WEEE recovery fines, incinerator ash fines and aluminum and waste shredder fines containing recoverable metals.
For additional information, please contact Peter G. Schirk - Sales Manager - Recycling Division.
Thursday is recycling day in my neighborhood. When I do my morning walk that day, I always see recycling bins in front of every house. I also occasionally see the wrong materials in those bins. These “contaminants” are creating a recycling problem.
Let’s face it, taking out the trash is simple. Everything goes out together because it has no further use. Taking out the recycling isn’t as simple. We have to remember what goes into which bin (or bins) to ensure that our recyclables have a further use.
Sometimes we forget that recyclables are simply industrial raw materials. Manufacturers create specifications for those materials so that their suppliers will know what they need and what they won’t buy. Specifications for secondary raw materials (aka “recyclables”), describe both “contaminants” and “prohibitives.” The former can be tolerated to a minor degree. The latter cannot. By putting the wrong materials in the collection bins, people are creating extra work and problems for everyone in the recycling chain.
From the very beginning, contamination has been a problem for curbside recycling. The first recycling bin was designed in the early 1970’s specifically to keep newspapers dry. Created for University City, Mo., the bin had one side that was longer than the other three sides. The idea was that if it was raining on collection day, the bin should be placed on its side with the long side on top to keep the paper dry. Back then (and still today), no one wanted to pay extra for water, especially when it also weakened the paper fiber.
So what can be done to eliminate contamination? Education and enforcement are the usual suspects. We need to remind people why and how to recycle correctly. Moreover, when crews are collecting recyclables, they should not pick up contaminated recycling bins and instead leave some kind of notice about what went wrong. For anyone with much experience in recycling, this is not new.
But once again, the problem of contamination has shot to the forefront. China is tired of finding garbage in the bales of recyclables shipped to end markets in that country. As a result, the government wants to ban some paper and plastic recyclables from coming into China. This is a problem for American recyclers because Chinese manufacturers are some of their biggest customers.
Losing Chinese markets would be a serious blow, but I think American recyclers will withstand this latest challenge. We have a reputation for shipping better recyclables than the Europeans and we have a strong incentive to improve collection and processing to ensure that our recyclables will find end markets.
So expect to hear more about better education and enforcement so that you and I can do our job the right way. Processing will get even more attention because that is where the bales of recyclables are created. The good news is that today’s MRF is lightyears more advanced than those of 2000 and the MRF of even five years from now will be even better. I’ll leave those improvements to the engineers and the MRF operators.
But what else can we do? Some people say we shouldn’t mix our recyclables together, so let’s banish single stream recycling. In a sense they are right. The cleanest recyclables will always be kept separate from one another. But very, very few of us are willing to do that amount of separation, nor do we want the hassle of keeping that many containers for each type of recyclable. For that matter, I live in a dual stream county. As noted above, it’s not perfect either.
So let’s get radical. Maybe we need to rethink how much we want to recycle. If recycling’s goal is to maximize greenhouse gas reduction, we don’t need to recycle everything in the waste stream. Some materials have a bigger greenhouse gas reduction impact than others. We only need to recycle what we can before the law of diminishing returns kicks in. After all, the more materials we try to recycle, the more confusing it becomes. If recycling is going to provide raw materials for end markets, why do we keep making that more complicated?
I don’t expect to ever go out on a Thursday morning and see perfection when it comes to recycling. But with better education, stepped up enforcement, and a focus on getting the most efficient bang out of recycling, I will see even fewer contaminants in the bins.
Chaz Miller is director of policy/advocacy for the National Waste & Recycling Association in Washington, D.C. & Ex Officio Board Member of NERC. Reprinted with permission from Waste360.