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Michigan tries to revamp recycling culture

Resource Recycling Magazine - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:44
Michigan tries to revamp recycling culture

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

With one of the lowest state recycling rates in the country, Michigan is attempting to reinvent itself as a "recycling leader."

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder unveiled an ambitious plan this week to double the current municipal solid waste recycling rate by 2017 through a series of recycling-focused initiatives.

"States with healthy recycling programs have found that, in addition to reducing pressure on landfills and helping the environment, recycling creates jobs and opens markets for recovered materials," Snyder stated. "We’ve been throwing away money for decades. Addressing this issue is simply the right thing to do, and I am pleased to announce we are committed to making Michigan a recycling leader."

Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality estimates the state recycles just 14.5 percent of its municipal solid waste each year – and that's with both a bottle bill and an e-scrap law on the books. According to the state, approximately $435 million worth of recyclable materials gets landfilled each year.

Dan Wyant, DEQ director, said the governor's recent action will go a long way. "When you have the highest elected official in your state calling for the expansion of recycling that gets people to focus on it," Wyant told Resource Recycling. "We're not anywhere near where we need to be with respect to recycling … and it's the right thing to do now."

The state's recycling initiative will focus on building in-state markets for recycled commodities, enhancing data collection practices and increasing curbside access.

Attention will also be paid to greater educational efforts, counteracting a still-prevalent attitude among some residents that recycling "doesn't really matter," Kerrin O'Brien of the Michigan Recycling Coalition told Resource Recycling. O'Brien was named to a new nine-member Michigan Recycling Council, which will help represent the various interests within the industry.

According to O'Brien, the new plan, which recommends $1 million in additional recycling funding in 2015 and another $500,000 in DEQ pollution prevention grants, will help educate stakeholders and lawmakers alike on where recycling infrastructure needs to improve in order to blossom. "We want to get to a 50 percent recycling rate," O'Brien said.

Just 25 of 83 counties within the state provide "convenient access" to residents, leaving about 70 percent of counties without sufficient recycling access, according to the DEQ website. Under the governor's new plan, all 83 counties will provide "convenient access" by 2017.

However, while Wyant and O'Brien stressed $1.5 million in funding should be sufficient to get things going, Paul Gardner of product stewardship nonprofit group Recycling Reinvented cautioned the state will have to be creative with its allotted finances. "That's not going to go very far," Gardner said, adding private and public funds will need to materialize in order to meet the new goals.

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Resource Recycling Conference 2014: Heading to the Big Easy

Resource Recycling Magazine - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:43
Resource Recycling Conference 2014: Heading to the Big Easy

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

Mark your calendars for September, when the industry's premier high-level gathering will take place in one of America's premier cities. The Resource Recycling Conference 2014 is heading to New Orleans, a historic hotbed of culture and cuisine at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Resource Recycling Conference 2014 will give you the chance to learn from and network with top decision-makers from stakeholders representing every part of the materials recovery stream. And when the day's work is through you'll be steps away from the brass bands, gumbo joints and centuries-old neighborhoods that define the charm and character of the Crescent City.

Resource Recycling Conference 2014 is taking place at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside Sept. 16-17. Head to rrconference.com for more information on attending, sponsoring and exhibiting. And be sure to plan your trip to include the numerous industry trade associations holding meetings before, during and after the conference itself. More information on those events will be coming soon.

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Beyond the flying footwear: Clinton touts recycling at ISRI

Resource Recycling Magazine - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:41
Beyond the flying footwear: Clinton touts recycling at ISRI

By Dylan de Thomas, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

At the closing general session of the 2014 ISRI Convention & Exposition, presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to over 1,000 attendees about recycling and how the industry fits into the larger U.S. and global economy, but not without some controversy.

Just as Clinton began speaking, a member of the audience threw a strapped shoe and some papers at the former Secretary of State. Clinton responded with humor, saying, "My goodness, I didn’t know that solid waste management was so controversial. Thank goodness she didn’t play softball like I did."

ISRI's director of media relations and online communications, Mark Carpenter, told the Las Vegas Sun that the shoe-thrower was not a convention attendee and a Resource Recycling staffer at the event confirmed the woman was not wearing a badge.

Though the tossed shoe grabbed the national headlines, the content of Clinton's speech was also noteworthy -- at least to recycling professionals. The politician spoke for 30 minutes, praising the recycling industry for "driving innovation and resource efficiency" and noting that recycling "offers a chance to improve the environment and stimulate the economy at the same time." The former senator then highlighted various projects the Clinton Foundation has launched relating to "sustainable waste management," including a Haitian recycling plant.

"We can be the clean energy superpower for the 21st century as American innovation unlocks new supplies, pioneers new technologies and gives us new tools to lower carbon emissions," Clinton said.

After Clinton's speech, she sat down with outgoing ISRI chair Jerry Simms, who offered a "deepest apology for that crude interruption."

During the discussion with Clinton, Simms noted the recycling trade group's strong stance in favor of exports without restrictions and history of "preventing protectionist trade policies of other nations."

Clinton expressed support of such policies. "We have to be stronger about going after countries in the WTO, like China, now like Russia, like any others who try to put those barriers up," Clinton said. "We have to be tougher in bringing trade action against them. We have to threaten reciprocity, because they love to get into our market while they block their markets."

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Earth Day brings flood of materials recovery efforts

Resource Recycling Magazine - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:41
Earth Day brings flood of materials recovery efforts

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

With the 45th annual Earth Day taking place next week, we take a look at the ways companies and organizations around the globe are marking the occasion through recycling initiatives.

Noting that "Earth Day long ago outgrew its April 22 place in the calendar year," CalRecycle, the governmental body in charge of waste and recycling for the state of California, has put together a vast array of events taking place throughout the month and into May. Check out the list here.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is looking ahead to April 23 for a lively Twitter discussion on recycling old devices and the latest developments from the trade group's eCycling Leadership Initiative. Join in from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern and use the hashtag #CEAgreen to be eligible to win a new wireless sound system from Samsung – just don’t forget to recycle your old one.

Kid-focused environmental organization Earth Rangers is gathering momentum in the lead-up to Earth Day by encouraging parents and their children to take on special Earth Rangers Missions. The Battery Blitz Mission has already led to the recycling of more than 30,000 batteries by 4,000 members, and the Canadian group is banking on Earth Day to push participation even more.

In advance of Earth Day, ecoATM, the automated electronics trade-in kiosk company, has released findings from a recent survey that offers some data on Americans' tendency to let old electronics collect dust. According to the company, 57 percent of survey respondents said they owned idle phones and devices and 39 percent said they owned at least two. The most discouraging finding? Just 46 percent of respondents said they would even consider recycling their old gadgets.

A recent Harris Interactive poll shows 75 percent of workers "say they would insist upon change if they saw obvious wasteful practices at work." The survey, which was commissioned by Ricoh and polled 900 U.S. workers, does indicate that workplace environmental practices are becoming an expectation among the American workforce.

The NFL's Atlanta Falcons and Novelis have officially wrapped up the second annual Rise Up & Recycle challenge. Attracting more than 50 schools in Georgia to participate in the program, the Falcons and Novelis, a major aluminum rolling and recycling company based in Atlanta, honored four teachers for their work encouraging students to think twice before throwing recyclables in the trash.

PBS will premiere "A Fierce Green Fire" on April 22 at 9 p.m. Eastern The documentary tracks modern environmentalism, which the film depicts as "one of the largest movements of the 20th century and one of the keys to the 21st." Directed by Oscar-nominee Mark Kitchell, the documentary explores a variety of topics, including waste reduction and conservation.

SC Johnson, maker of some of the world's most frequently used home products, has announced it is on track to meet its 2016 goal of minimizing manufacturing waste by 70 percent. Since 2000, the company has reduced 62 percent of manufacturing waste produced around the globe, an achievement hinging on zero landfill initiatives and recycling efforts.

Global electronics recycling firm Sims Recycling Solutions will be hosting a series of e-scrap collection events throughout the world this Earth Day and has compiled a list of tips for conscientious citizens to live – or at least recycle – by. Included in the list are Sims' pleas to "put off the upgrade" and "reuse what you can," after a recent event survey showed that just 20 percent of dropped-off devices were truly end-of-life.

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Steel demand to be pushed more by developed economies

Resource Recycling Magazine - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:40
Steel demand to be pushed more by developed economies

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

After many years where rapid growth in steel consumption in China and other emerging economies dominated the global marketplace, an important steel industry study shows that the U.S. and Europe will see greater growth in steel consumption in the next two years.

The World Steel Association estimates China will experience a growth in steel use of about 3 percent in each of the next two years. This is half of the growth experienced in 2012 and 2013. China is the world’s largest user of steel.

WSA says other developing economies will see a similar fall in their steel-consumption growth curve. On the other hand, steel use in the U.S. is expected to rise 4 percent this year and European consumption will grow 3 percent.

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College recycling push diverts nearly 90 million pounds

Resource Recycling Magazine - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:39
College recycling push diverts nearly 90 million pounds

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

Antioch University Seattle emerged as the Grand Champion of this year's RecycleMania, an on-campus recycling tournament held in February and March.

The event, which is managed by Keep America Beautiful, led to 89.1 million pounds of material being separated for recycling or composting, according to a press release sent out this week.

More than 460 schools from across the U.S. and Canada participated, and Antioch grabbed the Grand Champion prize for diverting approximately 93 percent of the overall waste it generated. The second-best recycling rate, roughly 81 percent, was achieved by University of Missouri, Kansas City.

The 14th annual event tracked schools' progress in a number of categories including recycling rate; overall recycling by weight; and per capita recovery for paper, cardboard, cans and bottles, and food waste.

Rutgers University in New Jersey won the "gorilla" category by collecting the most material overall — more than 1.3 million pounds.

Full results can be viewed here.

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Wide world of recycling

Resource Recycling Magazine - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:38
Wide world of recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

A Scottish recycling firm will have to pay more than $330,000 as punishment for improperly handling material.

Doonin Plant Ltd., based in Scotland, has lost an appeal and faces the landmark fine for illegally burying hundreds of tons of tires and other materials. The company was first issued the fine in late 2012.

In other news, TerraCycle, a New Jersey-based company, that works with brands to recover hard-to-recycle materials, has expanded into New Zealand. The company is partnering there with Mondelez, owner of the Cadbury brand, to develop a system for recycling candy wrappers.

And grocery chain Sainsbury's has launched an Easter-aimed recycling initiative at 50 of its U.K. locations. The collection points allow consumers to drop off plastic eggs and other holiday staples that may not normally be accepted curbside.

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NewsBits from Resource Recycling

Resource Recycling Magazine - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:34
NewsBits

April 16, 2014

Waste Management CEO David Steiner spoke recently at a Wall Street Journal conference and he again stated publicly the firm has seen financial losses from its recycling division, a statement that grabbed industry attention when he made it last year (and which WM's recycling chief later had to clarify). Steiner says WM is continuing to see its costs rise and the value of its recovered material go down.

New York City recently added nearly 3,000 public space recycling receptacles as the city continues its push toward a 30 percent recycling rate goal.

A new single-stream materials recovery facility has opened near Bakersfield, California. The $12 million MRF is run by Metropolitan Recycling and will handle around 30,000 tons of material annually.

PepsiCo announced it is expanding an initiative to bring public-space recycling bins to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The move will bring 120 receptacles to 30 retail partners in the city.

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Hillary Clinton touts recycling, ducks shoe, at ISRI Convention

E-Scrap News Magazine - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:16
Hillary Clinton touts recycling, ducks shoe, at ISRI Convention

By Dylan de Thomas, E-Scrap News

April 11, 2014

At the closing general session of the 2014 ISRI Convention & Exposition, presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to over 1,000 attendees about recycling and how the industry fits into the larger U.S. and global economy, but not without some controversy.

Just as Clinton began speaking, a member of the audience threw a strapped shoe and some papers at the former Secretary of State. Clinton responded with humor, saying, "My goodness, I didn’t know that solid waste management was so controversial. Thank goodness she didn’t play softball like I did."

ISRI's director of media relations and online communications, Mark Carpenter, told the Las Vegas Sun that the shoe-thrower was not a convention attendee and a Resource Recycling staffer at the event confirmed the woman was not wearing a badge.

Clinton spoke for 30 minutes, praising the recycling industry for "driving innovation and resource efficiency," noting that recycling "offers a chance to improve the environment and stimulate the economy at the same time.” The former senator then highlighted various projects the Clinton Foundation has launched relating to "sustainable waste management," including a Haitian recycling plant.

"We can be the clean energy superpower for the 21st century as American innovation unlocks new supplies, pioneers new technologies and gives us new tools to lower carbon emissions," Clinton said.

After Clinton's speech and shoe-dodging, she sat down with outgoing ISRI chair Jerry Simms, who offered a "deepest apology for that crude interruption."

During the discussion with Clinton, Simms noted the recycling trade group's strong stance in favor of exports without restrictions and history of "preventing protectionist trade policies of other nations."

Clinton expressed support of such policies. "We have to be stronger about going after countries in the WTO, like China, now like Russia, like any others who try to put those barriers up," Clinton said. "We have to be tougher in bringing trade action against them. We have to threaten reciprocity, because they love to get into our market while they block their markets."

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Apply now to grab funding for your recycling innovation

E-Scrap News Magazine - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:15
Apply now to grab funding for your recycling innovation

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

April 11, 2014

There are only a few weeks left to submit your game-changing ideas to the Recycling Innovators Forum. And competing in the event couldn't be easier — simply submit a three-to-four page proposal by April 30.

If you have a creative solution that will help move the recycling industry forward, don't miss out on this chance to take your innovation to the next level. The Recycling Innovators Forum is a venue for individuals and groups to present their bright ideas. Co-located with the annual Resource Recycling Conference, the Forum is designed to shine a spotlight on new recycling concepts and connect inventors to the companies, institutions and organizations that can help turn ideas into reality.

A $20,000 prize will be awarded to each of the two top-ranking innovations, and finalists will have the invaluable opportunity to market their ideas to industry leaders. Whether you're a small-scale "garage innovator" in the beginning stages of development or work in a team at an established industry organization, this is a prime opportunity to gain exposure and funds to make a real impact in recycling.

Head to the Recycling Innovators Forum website to get complete details.

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R2 Solutions says its standard follows Basel Convention

E-Scrap News Magazine - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:14
R2 Solutions says its standard follows Basel Convention

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

April 11, 2014

R2 Solutions recently argued its certification is "fully consistent" with international trade agreements, a claim that has drawn the ire of the Basel Action Network (BAN).

R2 Solutions' FAQ document, released April 5, asserts the R2:2013 certification holds verified firms to all applicable international trade laws, including the Basel Convention. "The export requirements of the Standard are fully consistent with international hazardous waste trade laws," the document reads.

Combating the perception that the R2 standard lacks sufficient export standards, R2 Solutions says its list of hazardous "Focus Materials," which include polychlorinated biphenyls and CRT glass, "largely tracks" a list of "hazardous or of concern" e-scrap components identified in a 1998 amendment to the Convention. Moreover, the certification body cites language appearing in its recently revised standard that includes a broad mandate that certified recycling facilities must "comply with all applicable environmental, health and safety … legal requirements."

BAN, which has vigorously pushed its e-Stewards certification as the more export-conscious of the certifications, issued a response to R2's document. The organization's press release states the R2 standard "was created in the U.S. for those U.S. stakeholders who are in disagreement with the Basel Convention."

BAN's statement also argues R2 "fails to control the list of hazardous materials prescribed by Basel," a view point echoed in its "Five Fundamental Flaws: A Concise Critique of the R2:2013," released in 2013.

The certificantion comparison debate has long been a divisive one within the industry, with e-scrap export policy proving to be a constant focal point.

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Microsoft encourages recycling as it phases out XP

E-Scrap News Magazine - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:14
Microsoft encourages recycling as it phases out XP

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

April 11, 2014

Microsoft is leading a charge to encourage proper data sanitization and recycling of old computers.

Ending technical support for Microsoft XP and Office 2003 this week, the software comany expects users to begin migrating to newer technology, such as Windows 8.1 and Office 365. If that shift does occur as planned, "there will be a growing need to help safely and securely dispose of older devices," Microsoft says.

To help, Microsoft wants customers to seek out authorized refurbishers and recycling partners to ensure sensitive data is properly erased and gadgets get recycled. The company specifically mentions finding R2, e-Stewards and WEEELABEX-certified recycling firms "to make sure you're working with someone that will recycle old technology in a safe and environmentally responsible way."

Microsoft had offered technical support to Microsoft XP and Office 2003 users for 12 years. Last year's launch of Microsoft 8.1 was unable to offer any significant reprieve from slumping PC shipments in 2013.

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Certification scorecard

E-Scrap News Magazine - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:13
Certification scorecard

April 11, 2014

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

InterConnection, of Seattle, renewed its ISO 14001 certification and is also now certified to OHSAS 18001 and R2:2013. InterConnection is the first U.S. nonprofit organization to achieve the updated R2 standard.

AMS Store and Shred LLC of Lake in the Hills, Illinois; Best Shredding (Div/Best Service Pros) of Langley, British Columbia; Certified Document Destruction of Wauseon, Ohio; Goodwill Easter Seals Of The Gulf Coast, Inc. of Mobile, Alabama; Maverick Shredding of Weslaco, Texas; Metro Record Storage and Shredding of Bakersfield, California; Royal Document Destruction, Inc. of Gahanna, Ohio; Shred Works, Inc. of Oakland, California; and The DocuTeam LLC of San Luis Obispo, California have either achieved or renewed their NAID Certifications for Physical Destruction of Hard Drives.

Announcement: 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 at www.tinyurl.com/Certified-E-scrap.

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NewsBits from E-Scrap News

E-Scrap News Magazine - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:12
NewsBits

April 11, 2014

Recycling firm AnythingIT, Inc. has decided to start another company, and it's one that has little to do with e-scrap. Attempting to capitalize on the growing legal marketplace for marijuana, AnythingIT's Weedhire.com will feature an extensive listing of job openings within the regulated, $1.5 billion per year marijuana industry.

Former environmental regulator and Best Buy executive Leo Raudys has started a web-based e-scrap consulting firm known as Riduvit. The company website connects corporate e-scrap generators with national recycling firms and provides quotes for recycling services.

The electronics repair gurus at iFixit have given the Samsung Gear 2 watch a repairability score of 8 out of 10. Aside from a tricky-to-dissect fused display – making repair "a little difficult and costly" – iFixit says the high-tech watch is generally primed for repair and reuse.

Research group International Data Corporation (IDC) has found that wearable electronic devices are beginning to become more popular. In 2014 alone, "wearables" shipments are expected to triple, exceeding 19 million units.

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Plastic film recovery rate barely budges

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 15:01
Plastic film recovery rate barely budges

By Dan Leif, Plastics Recycling Update

April 10, 2014

The most recent statistics on North American post-consumer plastic bag and film recycling show a slight uptick in overall recovery but a significant drop in demand for the material among domestic consumers.

The study, which was put together by Moore Recycling Associates on behalf of the American Chemistry Council, examines bag and film recovery for 2012. During that year, roughly 1.02 billion pounds of the material were collected, which represents a 1 percent increase over 2011.

The numbers point to a potential plateau that may be taking place when it comes to the recovery of bags and film in the U.S. and Canada. The most recent 1 percent increase follows another slight growth period — from 2010 to 2011 — when recovered volume grew by just under 4 percent. From 2009 to 2010, in contrast, the volume grew by more than 13.5 percent.

The 2012 Moore study noted collection of commercial clear film (clear, clean polyethylene film including stretch wrap and poly bags) dropped in 2012. This fact played a significant role in stunted growth numbers because the commercial clear category makes up 46 percent of all recycled film. No other category accounts for more than 18 percent.

According to the study, around 18,000 retail drop-off locations in the United States are collecting consumer film packaging and bags. The report suggested bolstering the retail drop-off infrastructure, "which is the most efficient method, given that large stores already backhaul their film."

"This report shows that even though film recycling had not grown as we had hoped last year, there is a lot of opportunity to make a difference with our programs," Shari Jackson, director of ACC's Flexible Film Recycling Group, said in a press release.

The report also produced notable findings about where plastic film has been heading after recovery. Buyers in the U.S. and Canada had since 2008 steadily increased the total volume they purchased, while export volumes had been falling for several years. That trend shifted dramatically in 2012: The volume of material headed to domestic processors dropped by 16 percent, and export volumes skyrocketed, up 41 percent.

The study states one reason for the phenomenon was likely a movement among North American reclaimers toward "just-in-time" inventory processes in which they used materials they had amassed during previous years but chose not to continue keeping so much supply stock on hand going forward.

"Other reasons for decreased purchasing by domestic companies include lower demand from their end products and challenges in processing," the report states, pointing out composite lumber manufacturers used significantly less material than in earlier years.

Because it charts only 2012, the study did not show the effects of China's Green Fence. The industry will have to wait until next year to see exact numbers on how the customs operation affected the movement and demand of plastic film, which has long been a staple of the lower quality bales Green Fence inspectors have worked to discourage.

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Apply now to grab funding for your recycling innovation

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 15:01
Apply now to grab funding for your recycling innovation

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

April 10, 2014

There are only a few weeks left to submit your game-changing ideas to the Recycling Innovators Forum. And competing in the event couldn't be easier — simply submit a three-to-four page proposal by April 30.

If you have a creative solution that will help move the recycling industry forward, don't miss out on this chance to take your innovation to the next level. The Recycling Innovators Forum is a venue for individuals and groups to present their bright ideas. Co-located with the annual Resource Recycling Conference, the Forum is designed to shine a spotlight on new recycling concepts and connect inventors to the companies, institutions and organizations that can help turn ideas into reality.

A $20,000 prize will be awarded to each of the two top-ranking innovations, and finalists will have the invaluable opportunity to market their ideas to industry leaders. Whether you're a small-scale "garage innovator" in the beginning stages of development or work in a team at an established industry organization, this is a prime opportunity to gain exposure and funds to make a real impact in recycling.

Head to the Recycling Innovators Forum website to get complete details.

To return to the Plastics Recycling Update newsletter, click here

Compostable plastics booted from Portland's commercial organics program

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 14:59
Compostable plastics booted from Portland's commercial organics program

By Bobby Elliott and Dan Leif, Plastics Recycling Update

April 10, 2014

A year from now businesses in the Portland, Oregon region will no longer be able to include compostable foodservice items alongside food scraps in commercial organics collection.

Metro, the regional government covering Oregon communities in the Portland metropolitan area, says a commercial organics program intended to make "something of value" from salvaged food scraps has been overwhelmed by non-food compostable items as well as prohibited material.

"We allowed a lot of stuff other than food in our organic stream and we're getting a lot more than we bargained for," Paul Ehinger, Metro's director of solid waste operations, told Plastics Recycling Update. "We were getting all kinds of plastics, compostable and otherwise, and it's extraordinarily difficult on the floor of a transfer station to figure which are and which are not compostable. … We were getting so much other stuff it became difficult to see even what the problem stuff in the loads [were]."

Originally, Metro's commercial organics contractor, Recology, was sending commercial food scraps, cardboard and compostable items to the firm's Nature's Needs facility in North Plains, just west of Portland.

The arrangement was short-lived, however, due to "significant odor problems" at the site. As a result, all of the material started going to JC Biomethane, an anaerobic digester in Junction City, Oregon, which is about 100 miles south of the metropolitan area.

JC Biomethane has recently complained about processing problems, leading Metro to scale back what's allowed in the commercial organics effort.

Notices were sent out on March 28 to approximately 1,000 businesses throughout the region that could be affected by the change. Citing overwhelming collection volumes of non-food items, such as cardboard and compostable cutlery, napkins and plates, the regional government argued focusing on just food scraps will ensure the program's longevity.

Starting in November, businesses will no longer be allowed to include cardboard with material destined for the anaerobic digester, and by March of 2015 the new regulations will go into full effect. BPI-certified bags and liners will still be allowed.

The change will not affect the city's residential organics program.

Buzz Chandler, the president of Stalk Market, a Portland-based company that is a major supplier of compostable foodservice items to markets across North America, said the move is a step backward for Portland. "To simply just give up like this, it seems like the wrong way to do it, especially when other cities are having success."

He noted officials in Seattle have been considering legislation that would ban non-compostable foodservice items at restaurants that offer take-out, a step that would encourage more compostable products to enter the commercial organics stream in that city.

Stalk Market has a supplier contract with the Moda Center sports and events arena, which has been separating organic materials produced through concession food sales. It's unclear what steps Moda Center and other commercial establishments will need to take to keep similar programs running.

Ehinger says Portland businesses won't abandon ship on the idea of using alternatives to plastic and paper, but he acknowledges that it won't be easy. "For some businesses it will be a harder transition," Ehinger said.

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Will British Columbia's EPR effort kill plastics recycling firms?

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 14:56
Will British Columbia's EPR effort kill plastics recycling firms?

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

April 10, 2014

Leaders at a plastics recycling company in British Columbia say the province's switch to an extended producer responsibility system is creating a downstream "monopoly" that may force their firm and others out of business.

British Columbia next month will usher in its Multi-Material British Columbia (MMBC) program for residential collection of recyclable packaging and printed paper. In preparation of the rollout, MMBC administrators last month selected Green By Nature, a consortium of several large recycling companies, to handle the processing of material entering the system.

That decision, which came at the end of a bidding process, was a major win for Merlin Plastics, one of the members of Green By Nature.

But representatives from Fraser Plastics, which operates in Maple Ridge, B.C., this week told a local news source the MMBC action will be cutting the primary feedstock supply to firms that are not part of the Green By Nature network.

"That essentially creates a monopoly," a spokeswoman for Fraser Plastics told Maple Ridge News. "We are currently in survival mode and asking the government to rethink MMBC as we may not survive, or may not survive for very long."

The company says if it closes, 30 workers will lose their jobs.

In response, MMBC representatives said plastics firms will still be able to garner material from industrial and commercial sources, which are not part of the upcoming program. They also said recycling companies will be able to bid for plastics coming out of the numerous municipalities that have elected not to participate in MMBC.

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Wide world of plastics recycling

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 14:55
Wide world of plastics recycling

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

April 10, 2014

A major plastics recycling firm in the U.K. is paying up after failing to meet regulators' contamination demands.

ECO Plastics has agreed to donate roughly $16,700 to a charitable organization as punishment for allegedly attempting to export a shipment of materials the U.K.'s Environment Agency deemed too contaminated. An ECO representative criticized the regulators' system of assessing contamination, noting it is too "ambiguous" and that exporters don't know what is demanded of them.

Meanwhile, British grocery chain Tesco is set to start packaging eggs in containers made from recycled PET. The retailer says the new cartons, which replace cardboard products, will lead to fewer broken shells.

Finally, plastics reclaimers in New Zealand have been particularly frustrated by China's Green Fence customs initiative. Because there is essentially no domestic manufacturing demand for the material, Kiwi firms have had to stop taking in single-use plastics bags and other items that can lead to lower-quality bales.

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NewsBits from Plastics Recycling Update

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 14:54
NewsBits

April 10, 2014

Cascades, Inc., a packaging company out of Quebec, has introduced a line of polystyrene food trays made from 25 percent recycled material. The product is designed for packaging poultry and other meat products.

A recycling pilot program focused on polypropylene sterilization wrap at a hospital in Providence, Rhode Island has shown encouraging results. In 2013, workers at The Miriam Hospital diverted more than 5,000 pounds of wrap from the waste stream, up from 2,500 pounds in 2012.

Sweden-based certification body TCO Development has launched an effort to verify electronic products in which at least 85 percent of the plastic used comes from post-consumer recycled materials. TCO says Lenovo is the first brand to have products certified to the e-plastics standard.

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