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India considers deposit system to boost e-scrap recycling

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 10:12
India considers deposit system to boost e-scrap recycling

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

July 2, 2015

Proposed regulations in India call for placing a refundable deposit on consumer electronics and requiring retailers to take back the goods at the end of useful life.

But it's unclear how much on-the-ground impact the rules would have in a country of 1.25 billion people where the vast majority of scrap electronic recycling occurs in the informal sector.

The Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is seeking comment on the 2015 e-waste management rules. Comments are being accepted through Aug. 10.

The changes aim to update 2011 e-scrap handling and management rules. Extended producer responsibility requirements for e-scrap were first introduced in 2008 regulations.

The 2015 updates would require electronics producers to implement a refundable deposit system for electronics. They would also require all electronics retailers to take back old devices.

Some estimates have noted up to 90 percent of the domestically generated e-scrap in areas of India ends up in the informal market for recycling and disposal. Awareness of the formal recycling system lacks, and many individuals and companies send their e-scrap to informal processing options.

One group says it's deeply disappointed with the 2015 proposed rules.

"It clearly shows that Ministry has failed to take a note of existing informality in e-waste management and came up with a set of rules which, even before enforcement, will fall apart," leaders of the group Hasirudala wrote on their blog.

Hasirudala, which means "Green Force," is a member-based organization of waste pickers that seeks to improve working conditions and ensure continued access to recyclable materials for the informal sector in Bangalore, dubbed "The Silicon Valley of India."

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U.N. e-scrap report under scrutiny

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 10:12
U.N. e-scrap report under scrutiny

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

July 2, 2015

A team of academics has taken issue with a number of key statements on e-scrap exports and generation recently made by the United Nations Environment Programme.

In a post on a scholarly waste and pollution blog called Discard Studies, researchers Josh Lepawsky, Joshua Goldstein and Yvan Schulz make the case that a report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) this spring contains "serious shortcomings."

The three researchers unpacked the citations and logic that led to a number of UNEP assertions on problems within the global system for handling end-of-life electronics, including the percentage of material illegally disposed each year. They write the report is flawed by "'corner-cutting techniques' that detach statements from their original sources and, in so doing, make those statements look more solid and trustworthy than they actually are."

At present, all three authors teach at the university level and study e-scrap management. Lepawsky is on the faculty of the Department of Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada. Goldstein teaches at the University of Southern California, and Schulz teaches at the University of Neuchâtel in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

UNEP is a body within the United Nations system that works on environmental issues. The report from UNEP was released May 12 and garnered attention-grabbing headlines in a number of major media outlets.

The Discard Studies response takes issue with seven points by UNEP, most notably the claim that up to 90 percent of the world's e-scrap ends up being illegally disposed of abroad. That statistic appeared in the very first sentence of the press release announcing the report, which was titled "Waste Crimes – Waste Risks" and looks at a variety of global waste streams.

The Discard Studies post notes the 90 percent e-scrap export statistic was based in part on numbers from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. That U.N. agency released a report in 2013 that stated between 60 and 90 percent of globally generated material was improperly handled.

"The UNEP press release forgoes the range in favor of the upper limit of 90 percent and it is this figure that is picked up in subsequent media reports ... thus bolstering the dominant e-waste storyline about illegal trade and dumping," the post charges.

The post also calls into question the U.N. report's assertion that global e-scrap generation has reached 41.8 million metric tons, or about 46 million short tons, per year. And the academics challenge the U.N's characterization of current electronics processing realities in Ghana and China.

Ruediger Kuehr, a researcher with United Nations University (UNU) who has worked on other e-scrap flow studies, noted the UNEP research was intended not to bring new numbers into the export conversation but to analyze waste crime. He also said the study’s figures on material generation were sound. "The 41.8 millions of e-waste generated in 2014 is based on a statistical methodology developed by UNU," he said, "and endorsed by the members of the Partnership Measuring ICT for Development." That partnership is a U.N.-associated project that monitors data on information and communications technology (ICT).

Kuehr, who did not contribute to the UNEP report, said the study was one of several different projects from U.N. groups currently investigating the e-scrap issue.

"The report, the resulting misinterpretation of some findings and the following responses highlight the urgent need to further research many aspects of the e-waste challenge in an international harmonized, science-based and ... objective approach," he said. "In this sense, the UNEP report is already contributing to further insights into the criminal aspects of international e-waste shipments, which definitely require further work. But this work must be based on much better data, really looking into the exports and imports in many harbors around the globe."

 

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E-Scrap 2015: A big-picture look

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 10:11
E-Scrap 2015: A big-picture look

July 2, 2015

We all know the major trends that are quickly re-shaping the e-scrap industry. Think processor consolidation, CRT glass struggles and the changing nature of the electronics recycling stream.

Understanding exactly how those developments intertwine and shape market opportunities can be a bit of mind boggle. Fortunately, E-Scrap 2015 will be bringing the top minds in the sector together to explore the issues and offer attendees an illuminating big-picture look at electronics recycling.

Make your plans now to head to the industry's leading conference this September. The education sessions, networking events, bustling trade show and collection of ancillary meetings will give you a textured understanding of how the industry is developing – and where your business fits in.

E-Scrap 2015 is taking place Sept. 1-3, 2015 – the week before Labor Day – at Omni ChampionsGate in Orlando, Florida. Last year's conference brought together more than 1,300 attendees from 35 countries, and similar numbers are expected for the upcoming iteration. Check in at e-scrapconference.com for all the latest information on exhibiting, sponsoring and attending.

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Illinois e-scrap bill sent to governor

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 10:10
Illinois e-scrap bill sent to governor

By Jared Paben, E-Scrap News

July 2, 2015

An Illinois bill increasing the amount of material e-scrap manufacturers must collect and recycle has been sent to the governor.

The legislation would require manufacturers to pay for the collection and recycling of 23,300 tons of e-scrap in 2015 and 24,800 tons in each of 2016 and 2017, up from 21,102 tons in 2014.

The bill has been delayed by a reported standoff between first-term Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic Party-controlled General Assembly over the state budget.

The e-scrap bill passed unanimously out of both the Senate and House of Representatives as of May 19. The House sent it to Rauner on June 17, just before the 30-day legal deadline for sending him the bill.

Rauner now has 60 days to act on it. If he does nothing, it becomes law. If he vetoes it, a three-fifths vote from each chamber would be needed to overcome the veto.

The bill was the product of negotiations between various stakeholders, and it's seen as a temporary fix to the e-scrap program. Stakeholders expect to return to the table to discuss future legislation changing the program.

Jerry Peck, associate director of government affairs for the Illinois Manufacturers' Association (IMA), previously told E-Scrap News he put together a letter from the IMA sent to the governor asking him sign the bill immediately.

"If that's the law and we all agree to it, let's change that as soon as possible," he said.

Doing so will allow the manufacturers more time to do their necessary accounting work and prepare for the bill's requirements, he said.

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Wide world of e-scrap

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 10:09
Wide world of e-scrap

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

July 2, 2015

China offers subsidies to move forward electronics recycling, the demolition of Agbogbloshie is analyzed in Wired and an Indian state announces an e-scrap facility.

China has paid tens of millions of dollars in subsidies to e-scrap recycling firms, part of an effort to formalize e-scrap recycling in the country. More than 100 e-scrap recycling firms have received subsidies from a government fund established in 2012. Those companies handle about 70 million electronic items each year.

The self-taught e-scrap refurbishers and recyclers of Accra's Agbogbloshie district needed support and training, says electronics repair and reuse advocate Kyle Wiens. Instead, they got demolished. Wiens, founder of iFixit.org, writes about the recent demolition of the high-profile scrap yard by the Ghana government.

A state in India is planning to create a facility to dismantle electronics and separate the materials for recycling by authorized plants, according to The Hindu Business Line. The state of Goa, on the west coast and south of Mumbai, will establish the facility.

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Certification scorecard

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 10:08
Certification scorecard

July 2, 2015

With the roster of companies attaining third-party certifications or audits continuing to grow, E-Scrap News has compiled a roundup of the firms announcing certification this past week.

Absolute Data Destruction of Toronto; Shred Trust of Deerfield Beach, Fla.; ShredYourDocs.com of Apple Valley, Calif.; Wasteco Dixie Recycling Centre of Mississauga, Ontario and Weaver-SecurShred of Akron, Ohio have either achieved or renewed their NAID Certifications for Physical Destruction of Hard Drives.

E-Scrap News has added OHSAS 18001 and NAID AAA into its certification directory, as well as moved the directory online. If your firm recently completed these certifications, a CHWMEG audit or an ISO 9001, ISO 14001, R2, RIOS or e-Stewards certification, e-mail dleif@resource-recycling.com to be included in this section and in E-Scrap News' directory. The full directory is available here.

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NewsBits from E-Scrap News

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 10:07
NewsBits

July 2, 2015

E-scrap recycling firms are seeing an uptick in material since New York City started issuing fines to residents for throwing electronics in the trash, according to this in-depth look by The Atlantic's CityLab site. One firm that was featured, LES Ecology Center, said CRT TVs are the most difficult devices to manage, and other old electronics it collects find second lives in period movies from the company's side business of running a prop rental library.

What you thought was deleted from your electronic device may be retrievable after all. The Christian Science Monitor provides tips for people to help them completely wipe their personal information from their devices before donating them for recycling.

A bill relieving mobile hard drive shredding crews of environmental licensing requirements passed out of the New Jersey Senate on June 29. The Senate voted unanimously to pass SB 2978, which would allow mobile shredding without a state Department of Environmental Protection permit as long as the shredding company is certified by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) and sends materials to DEP-approved recycling outlets. NAID hailed the bill's passage.

An e-scrap collection drive in Minnesota netted more than 900 CRT TVs and monitors. A state grant allowed people to drop off CRT devices without charge, although a $10 fee still applied to other electronics.

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U.K. flexible film project 'making significant progress'

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 09:36
U.K. flexible film project 'making significant progress'

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

July 1, 2015

A group behind an initiative addressing the recyclability of flexible films has indicated it's on the right path.

Launched six months ago, the Axion Consulting-led effort has developed a potentially recyclable multi-layer packaging. The project is called Reflex.

"We are making significant progress," project leader and Axion Consulting engineer Richard McKinlay stated in a company press release. "We have taken multi-layer packaging structures that currently use incompatible polymers and we have redesigned them using polymers which can potentially be recycled together."

The Reflex project is supported by a government grant from Innovate U.K. and funds from major packaging and recycling stakeholders.

According to Reflex's website, flexible film, a broad material category that includes plastic films and pouches, accounts for roughly a third of plastic packaging used in the U.K. Virtually all of it is being landfilled, project leaders have indicated.

Reflex representatives believe near infrared (NIR) sortation can be better utilized to sort flexible packaging.

"We think existing NIR technology is capable of doing a lot more sophisticated sorting," McKinlay said in the release. "Just as importantly, future research will also be concentrating on how to make recyclable packaging more readily identifiable by automated sorting equipment."

The project's next step will focus on reprocessing flexible packaging for use in new products. If successful, the project expects flexible film packaging will reach a 50 percent diversion rate within the next 10 years.

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ACC indicates optimism for mixed-waste processing

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 09:36
ACC indicates optimism for mixed-waste processing

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

July 1, 2015

A recent paper from a major plastics group finds there are both pros and cons to the "all in one bin" recycling collection and processing approach.

"There are key tradeoffs that that need to be analyzed as part of assessing mixed-waste processing," the report, commissioned by the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), concludes. "The technology promises to deliver more volume of recycled materials but potentially with a lower unit value for some materials because of contamination."

Research for the report was conducted by Gershman, Brickner & Bratton (GBB).

The mixed-waste processing approach, which has been challenged by the the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and The Recycling Partnership, among others, forgoes residential source-separation of recyclables and uses mixed-waste processing facilities to extract recyclables and organics directly from municipal solid waste.

Mixed-waste processing has been in the spotlight recently, with a $45 million facility planned in Indianapolis and talk of a similar venture ongoing in Houston. A mixed-waste processing facility opened in Montgomery, Ala. last year. Such operations are sometimes called dirty MRFs.

"The goal of diverting more materials from the waste stream to higher uses compels us to explore all options," Craig Cookson, director of sustainability and recycling for ACC’s Plastics Division, said in a press release announcing the study's release. "As the waste stream continues to evolve, we must consider new strategies and innovations that could help us to meet these challenges."

The GBB study, which can be read in its entirety here, suggests modern, "highly automated" mixed-waste processing could be capable of unlocking higher overall diversion rates than some single-stream programs. The quality of the recyclables recovered from MSW, however, remains a question.

"Until there is better publicly available data or testimonials from buyers of the materials, it will remain a challenge to evaluate newer [mixed-waste facilities]," the report cautions.

Study authors completed a waste characterization study for Fort Worth, Texas and estimated the City could push its diversion rate, currently at 19 percent under a single-stream program, to as high as 46 percent under a mixed-waste processing system that also diverts organics.

According to the characterization study, 28 percent of overall MSW currently makes it into Fort Worth recycling bins. Of that total, 67 percent ends up being recovered at a single-stream MRF, resulting in an estimated 19 percent recovery rate. No organics are recovered.

Under a mixed-waste system, GBB found, theoretically 100 percent of Fort Worth's MSW would reach a modernized mixed-waste processing center. The study suggests a 70 percent recovery rate for organics under that system and an overall diversion rate of 46 percent for the municipality. "It should be noted that these numbers are from an equipment manufacturer with recent experience with these modern [mixed-waste processing] facilities," the report notes.

The study also determined that if the city's current single-stream program were paired with a mixed-waste facility to process trash, the recovery rate could jump to 54 percent.

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New York City EPS ban takes effect

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 09:36
New York City EPS ban takes effect

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

July 1, 2015

The Big Apple's big shift in food-service packaging begins today.

New York City's much-publicized ban on expanded polystyrene food-service products is officially going into effect, though restaurants and other businesses will have a six-month grace period before the city begins issuing fines to violators.

In addition to cups, plates and take-out containers, the ban also applies to packing peanuts (but not to foam blocks used to protect non-food products).

Meanwhile, the Restaurant Action Alliance NYC, a group led by foam manufacturer Dart Container Corp., has continued to fight the ban. A legal petition filed on April 28 claims Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration violated a city law requiring the city establish a recycling system for EPS if doing so was economically and environmentally feasible.

In early January, the administration stated it believed EPS could not be recycled in a cost-effective manner, and it approved a ban.

The restaurant group says the lawsuit is pending.

"We are confounded by the city’s unwillingness to listen to reason and their false claims," Robert Jackson with the Restaurant Action Alliance told Plastics Recycling Update. "Here’s the truth that the city won’t admit: foam is 100 percent recyclable. We will continue to fight the ban."

For one major retailer, polypropylene is the replacement of choice.

Dunkin' Donuts will switch all of its iconic foam cups at the more than 500 locations it has in New York City to polypropylene cups. The PP cup was already available at many of the New York City locations. The new Versalite-branded cups are made by Evansville, Ind.-based Berry Plastics, which received a letter from KW Plastics indicating the material is as recyclable as any other polypropylene cup in the recycling stream.

Dunkin' Donuts has been looking to replace its EPS cup at all locations and has tested a doubled-walled fiber cup and the PP cup. So far, it's leaning toward the PP cup but is expected to make a decision by the end of the year.

The New York City Department of Education has shifted toward fiber, instead of plastic. School cafeterias have already replaced foam trays with compostable plates.

The following larger cities have also banned EPS: Minneapolis; Oakland, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.

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PetroChem Wire: Demand pushes up recycled PP prices

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 09:35
PetroChem Wire: Demand pushes up recycled PP prices

July 1, 2015

CoPP and HoPP injection grade regrind prices rose in the past week, bolstered by healthy demand, particularly from Midwest buyers.

Truckloads of HoPP mixed-color flake were done at 45 cents per pound delivered Midwest (43 cents per pound FOB). HoPP pellets (non-FDA) were confirmed sold at 50 cents per pound FOB Midwest, and pellet prices were steady both on the East Coast and in the Midwest. In the scrap market, clean PP super sacks were offered at 15 cents per pound FOB Houston.

Generic prime HoPP from resellers ended last week on June 26 unchanged, remaining at 62 to 65 cents per pound railcar delivered. Generic prime impact CoPP was unchanged at 63 to 66 cents per pound.

In the secondary market, off-grade HoPP and CoPP sales were done recently at the mid 60 cents per pound level delivered railcar. Demand for off-grade and recycled material has been strong as end users looked to replace the generic prime that was unavailable.

For a free trial to the Repro/Regrind Resin Report or to see sample issues of all PCW reports visit the PetroChem Wire website at www.petrochemwire.com. You can also contact Cindy Bryan at cindy@petrochemwire.com or (713) 385-1407.

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Vermont bans disposal of PET, HDPE

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 09:35
Vermont bans disposal of PET, HDPE

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

July 1, 2015

Vermont residents who toss PET and HDPE containers into the trash are breaking the law as of today.

Those are two of the recyclable materials banned from disposal starting July 1, 2015, under the Vermont universal recycling law, a piece of legislation that was signed in 2012 and aims to increase diversion rates.

Haulers are now required to collect the recyclable materials and public entities are required to provide recycling receptacles in public spaces wherever garbage cans are located.

On the billing front, haulers were required to implement pay-as-you-throw rate structures by July 1, 2015, to further encourage diversion efforts.

The small state of 627,000 people has one landfill. Lawmakers unanimously passed the recycling bill in 2012 with an eye partly toward preserving the landfill's life. The state's current diversion rate is about 33 percent; it's goal is 60 percent, according to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR).

The ANR and local solid waste districts will have enforcement authority under the law. "However, education and outreach will be the initial method of implementing universal recycling," according to the agency.

Chittenden County, the most populous county in the state and home to the city of Burlington, already had a ban on disposal of recyclable materials in place. Its disposal ban included rigid plastic packaging and containers.

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Wide world of plastics recycling

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 09:34
Wide world of plastics recycling

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

July 1, 2015

Northern Ireland is considering implementing a beverage container deposit program, and a former soccer star in Cameroon is working to establish a plastics recycling facility there.

Northern Ireland is considering implementing a beverage container deposit program, according to letsecycle.com. The move comes as Scotland, another part of the U.K., considers the same step. Northern Ireland has about 1.8 million people, making it the smallest region of the U.K.

A for-profit startup in Kenya is recycling flip-flops found washed up on beaches into colorful animal sculptures and other products. The Nairobi-based Ocean Sole aims to collect and recycle 400,000 flip flops per year.

A former soccer star from Cameroon is working to set up a plastics recycling facility in the equatorial Africa country, according to APA. Roger Milla is working with his Coeur d'Afrique Foundation, a children's aid organization, to establish a facility in the country's capital of Yaounde that will train youths to mix recovered plastics with sand to make building materials.

The vice president of Ghana wants a public debate on a potential plastic bag ban. Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur said recent flooding that claimed 150 lives and destroyed property was exacerbated by plastic bags clogging drains.

 

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NewsBits from Plastics Recycling Update

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 09:34
NewsBits

July 1, 2015

The town of Bowie, Md. has banned plastic bags from its curbside bins because they jam up the machinery at Waste Management's nearby MRF, according to the Capital Gazette. The change took effect today, and the City is encouraging residents to drop off bags at retailers with take-back programs.

The market for plastic bottle recycling is expected to grow an average of 3.7 percent each year over the period until 2019, according to a report. The analysis from Research and Markets indicates the market is "picking up the pace and is expected to grow at a steady rate in the near future, boosted by increased demand for recycled plastic bottles and growing environmental concerns."

Sheridan, Wyo. will launch a curbside recycling program that will accept plastics Nos. 1-7, among other materials. The Sheridan Press reports residents will start receiving 96-gallon bins in July. In 2013, the city had an 8.2 percent recycling rate.

During the first six months of 2014, JetBlue recycled 631 tons of materials at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to the company's sustainability report. That included 112 tons of plastics. The recycling program started in 2013, spurred by the efforts of crew members at Long Beach Airport in California.

 

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Connecticut EPR law challenged in court

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 10:28
Connecticut EPR law challenged in court

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

June 30, 2015

TV manufacturer Vizio has sued a Connecticut official over an electronics recycling law it says unfairly burdens the company.

In a lawsuit filed on June 17 against the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Robert Klee, Vizio alleges the state's e-scrap law "is so deeply flawed and unfair that it threatens Vizio's ability to innovate and competitively price its products for consumers."

Connecticut's e-scrap law, fully implemented in 2011, requires manufacturers of computers, printers, monitors and televisions to pay for the collection and processing of end-of-life devices.

According to Irvine, Calif.-based Vizio, the "foundational problem" facing Connecticut's program is its use of nationwide television sales to determine manufacturer collection and recycling targets each year. That method, Vizio claims in the suit, has required the company to collect as much as 17 percent of all televisions entering Connecticut's e-scrap stream despite a "negligible" sales presence within the Nutmeg State.

The suit states Vizio "does not sell to any distribution centers in Connecticut" and sold just 190 TV sets in the state between 2012 and 2014. Its state-mandated e-scrap efforts, meanwhile, have cost the company over $1.8 million, according to the suit.

In a statement sent to Resource Recycling, Vizio said it expects costs to reach "well over" $2 million by 2016.

"Using the national market share approach as a proxy for the number of discarded televisions in Connecticut does not result in a fair or proportional distribution of recycling costs," the company stated.

The official court docket for the case, which is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut in New Haven, indicates parties are awaiting Klee's official response to the claims set forth by Vizio. Klee is being represented by two Connecticut assistant attorneys general, Sharon Seligman and Michael Skold.

A spokesperson for the state's Office of the Attorney General told Resource Recycling, "We are currently reviewing the lawsuit in consultation with our client agency, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and will respond at the appropriate time in court."

Jason Linnell, who directs the National Center for Electronics Recycling, which works with 14 state e-scrap programs, says it's common for a state to calculate a manufacturer's share of collection responsibilities by national sales data.

"If you're looking at it on an individual state basis, maybe the manufacturer has data that says sales were lower than what national sales data would estimate, but they could be in another state where it's higher than what the national sales data would suggest, and they aren't going to complain in that state," Linnell stated. "It evens out in the end and national sales data has been the best available data and the most consistent."

The Vizio suit also complains that the company, which was founded in 2002 as a flat-panel display TV manufacturer, is routinely responsible for recycling CRT televisions that were made before the company entered the market. CRT televisions account for the bulk of the volume of end-of-life TVs entering the U.S. waste stream.

Walter Alcorn, the vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability for the Consumer Electronics Association, told Resource Recycling Vizio is "exercising its constitutional rights against the state program that is the least popular state mandate for most consumer electronics manufacturers."

The Vizio suit indicates the company is supportive of "a law requiring television brand-owned sellers to pay for the recycling of televisions," but it adds recycling obligations should be based on the composition of the waste stream itself. This model, known as a return share model and used to determine manufacturer responsibilities for all other e-scrap covered under Connecticut's law, calls for electronics made by a particular manufacturer to be collected and recycled by that manufacturer.

A recent study, the suit suggests, found 23,000 pounds of televisions collected under Connecticut's program contained no Vizio products.

As a result of the program and its associated costs for Vizio, the company says it's been forced to adjust out-of-state prices, a situation that has led to "lost profits, opportunity costs, transactional costs, administrative costs and/or market share loss."

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Plastics group indicates optimism for mixed-waste processing

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 10:27
Plastics group indicates optimism for mixed-waste processing

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

June 30, 2015

A recent paper from the Plastics Division of the American Chemistry Council finds there are both pros and cons to the "all in one bin" recycling collection and processing approach.

"There are key tradeoffs that that need to be analyzed as part of assessing mixed-waste processing," the report, commissioned by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), concludes. "The technology promises to deliver more volume of recycled materials but potentially with a lower unit value for some materials because of contamination."

Research for the report was conducted by Gershman, Brickner & Bratton (GBB).

The mixed-waste processing approach, which is opposed by the the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and The Recycling Partnership, among others, forgoes residential source-separation of recyclables and uses mixed-waste processing facilities to extract recyclables and organics directly from municipal solid waste.

Mixed-waste processing has been in the spotlight recently, with a $45 million facility planned in Indianapolis and talk of a similar venture ongoing in Houston. A mixed-waste processing facility opened in Montgomery, Ala. last year. Such operations are sometimes called dirty MRFs.

"The goal of diverting more materials from the waste stream to higher uses compels us to explore all options," Craig Cookson, director of sustainability and recycling for ACC’s Plastics Division, said in a press release announcing the study's release. "As the waste stream continues to evolve, we must consider new strategies and innovations that could help us to meet these challenges."

The GBB study, which can be read in its entirety here, suggests modern, "highly automated" mixed-waste processing could be capable of unlocking higher overall diversion rates than some single-stream programs. The quality of the recyclables recovered from MSW, however, remains a question.

"Until there is better publicly available data or testimonials from buyers of the materials, it will remain a challenge to evaluate newer [mixed-waste facilities]," the report cautions.

Using a waste characterization study from Fort Worth, Texas as the basis for its conclusions, the study estimates the city could push its diversion rate, currently at 19 percent under a single-stream program, to as high as 46 percent under a mixed-waste processing system that also diverts organics.

According to the characterization study, 28 percent of overall MSW currently makes it into Fort Worth recycling bins. Of that total, 67 percent ends up being recovered at a single-stream MRF, resulting in an estimated 19 percent recovery rate. No organics are recovered.

Under a mixed-waste system, GBB found, theoretically 100 percent of Fort Worth's MSW would reach a modernized mixed-waste processing center. The study suggests a 70 percent recovery rate for organics under that system and an overall diversion rate of 46 percent for the municipality. "It should be noted that these numbers are from an equipment manufacturer with recent experience with these modern [mixed-waste processing] facilities," the report notes.

The study also determined that if the city's current single-stream program were paired with a mixed-waste facility to process trash, the recovery rate could jump to 54 percent.

To return to the Resource Recycling newsletter, click here

 

Municipalities urged to help improve MRF safety

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 10:27
Municipalities urged to help improve MRF safety

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

June 30, 2015

A recent report from a group of nonprofit organizations asks cities to leverage their contract powers and force better conditions for workers at materials recovery facilities.

The study – from GAIA, Partnership for Working Families, MassCOSH and National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, all of which are nongovernmental organizations – notes 17 workers died from accidents at MRFs from 2011 to 2013. The organizations also cite a notable U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finding: that the rate of nonfatal injury incidents at MRFs was 8.5 per 100 workers in 2012, a number higher than both the rate for all industries (3.5 per 100 workers) and the average rate for waste management and remediation services in general (5.1 per 100 workers).

Some of the groups behind the study advocate for labor unions.

The report states MRFs' reliance on temporary workers may account for part of the injury and fatality issue. "Among employers who use temporary labor, failure to properly train and orient workers who are new to the job, or have been brought on as temporary labor, is a common practice and serious concern," the report states.

Extreme instances of contamination also pose risks to those working the sort lines at facilities, the report indicates. Hypodermic needles, nails, sharp metal, hazardous chemicals and rotting animals are all items many workers must pull off belts after they've been improperly added to the recycling stream.

The report calls on municipalities to take action, offering recommendations including: Evaluate potential processing contractors based on health and safety criteria, prohibit the use of temporary workers, boost communication to residents to ensure cleaner source separation, reject mixed-waste processing proposals, require contractors to provide a written illness and injury prevention program, and create a system for municipal inspection.

"[Recycling] is about recovering resources for future generations and reducing the impacts of our consumption," the report states. "To fully live those values, however, we must consider the human impacts of our waste management system, and invest as much energy in improving recycling worker jobs as we do in raising diversion rates."

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Resource Recycling Conference 2015: Book your hotel room now

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 10:27
Resource Recycling Conference 2015: Book your hotel room now

June 30, 2015

The Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, the host hotel for the 2015 Resource Recycling Conference, offers premier accommodations in the heart of Indiana's capital.

To get the most out of your conference experience, we recommend you stay at the host hotel, where hundreds of recycling professionals will be an open door away. Your room reservation at the conference host hotel also ensures lower registration rates for current and future years.

Book your reservations here.

Resource Recycling Conference 2015 is scheduled for Sept. 28-30 at the Downtown Marriott in Indianapolis, Indiana. Head to rrconference.com for all the latest on attending, exhibiting and sponsoring.

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Study: Nearly half of Austin's residential trash is compostable

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 10:27
Study: Nearly half of Austin's residential trash is compostable

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

June 30, 2015

More than 46 percent of the curbside residential garbage in Austin, Texas is compostable material – an estimated 52,920 tons annually.

Yard trimmings alone make up 6.6 percent of the trash stream, or about 7,500 tons, despite the fact the city has a separate yard debris collection program.

The numbers come from a residential-waste characterization study exploring the composition of material collected at the curb in Austin. The study was conducted by consulting firm CB&I Environmental and Infrastructure for the city's waste management arm, Austin Resource Recovery. Crews analyzed various loads of garbage and recyclable materials during the 2014 fiscal year.

"The [study] offers a stark view of the 'waste' discarded into the residential trash carts," Bob Gedert, Austin Resource Recovery director, wrote in a summary. "Of the residential trash sent to the landfill, 44.8 percent is recyclables and 46.3 percent is organics. This study demonstrates that 90 percent of what is sent to the landfill can be diverted toward recycling and organic composting."

The city's goal is a 50 percent diversion rate by December of this year; its current curbside diversion rate is about 40 percent.

The City currently provides weekly yard trimmings collection, and twice-yearly collection of large brush. It's also conducting a curbside food scraps pilot program serving 14,000 households each week.

The report recommended boosting food scraps service.

"Food waste, as the single largest component of the disposed waste stream, represents an opportunity for a substantial increase in diversion if collection service is provided to more households," the report noted.

Gedert said the Austin City Council is currently reviewing a five-year rollout of enhanced curbside organics collection. City staff proposed a schedule rolling out boosted service from 2016 to 2020.

The report also found a significant volume of potentially recyclable materials being thrown in the trash, including paper (22.8 percent of the waste stream), plastics (12.8 percent), metals (4.4 percent) and glass (3.9 percent).

"The results of this study have been discussed with staff, and a new incentive outreach campaign is being designed and will roll ­out in November 2015 on America Recycles Day," Gedert wrote in response.

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Haulers confront costs of recycling

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 10:27
Haulers confront costs of recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

June 30, 2015

Following a number of high-profile criticisms of the current recycling landscape, one hauler is making changes to the way it's charging some customers for the service.

To compensate for declining revenue from sales of recyclable materials, Casella Waste Systems announced it was raising tipping and collection fees in 2015.

Now, it says it has begun tacking a sustainability/recycling adjustment fee onto bills of residential customers with month-to-month service and commercial customers with adjustable contracts. A similar charge is also figured into its longer-term municipal contracts.

The development was first reported by Waste360.

The move is a reflection of major haulers' efforts to confront the challenges of low prices for recycled commodities, which are pinching recycling operations. Low recycling fees and widespread revenue-sharing deals with communities don't meet the companies' needs in today's economic environment, hauler executives have said. Some say they want municipalities to bear more of the financial risk of recycling.

Waste Management's CEO, David Steiner, has used the word "crisis" to describe the current conditions.

Others are questioning the industry-wide trend toward single-stream recycling collection, which, they say, reduces recycling values overall because of increased contamination. A recent article in The Washington Post explored issues of contamination and recycling's profitability.

"The quality limitations and processing costs associated with single-stream collection were masked for a time by booming commodity prices and overseas demand for recyclables," Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, said in a statement. "Today, we face a new reality that is forcing many communities to realize what many in the recycling industry have known for decades: a trade-off exists between convenience and quality."

Joe Fusco, vice president of finance at Casella, is a strong defender of single-stream recycling, according to Waste360. Contamination issues stem from a lack of public outreach and education, he says.

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