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Under regulatory pressure, Closed Loop explores options

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:54
Under regulatory pressure, Closed Loop explores options

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

Nov. 21, 2014

Emerging CRT glass processor Closed Loop Refining and Recovery has announced it is initiating a program to send leaded CRT glass downstream.

In a statement sent to E-Scrap News, Closed Loop representatives say the firm will begin shipping leaded CRT glass stored in its Arizona and Ohio sites "to EPA-approved lead smelters, ceramic manufactures and glass-to-glass furnaces."

The move comes shortly after environmental officials in Arizona and Ohio took action in regards to the leaded glass Closed Loop had been accumulating.

"The initiation of this program is in response to recent actions from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources," writes David Cauchi, Closed Loop’s founder and CEO. "Both organizations felt that our handling of leaded glass cullet was outside EPA guidelines, and we intend to rectify that immediately to ensure that Closed Loop and our upstream partners continue to uphold all federal, state and local regulations."

Since its founding in 2010, Closed Loop has been accepting and storing leaded CRT glass at sites in Arizona and Ohio, with the eventual goal of building de-leading furnaces in both locations. No furnaces have become operational at either site.

The company has defended its storage practices as necessary in order to build sufficient feedstock for the furnaces once they are up and running, but regulators have taken issue with that approach.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality recently issued a notice of violation to the company after an inspection of Closed Loop's Phoenix facility indicated the company was not adhering to the CRT rule, a federal regulation that requires firms to recycle or ship downstream at least 75 percent of their leaded CRT glass inventory by the end of each calendar year.

In a related move, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced last week its state electronics take-back program would not count pounds sent to Closed Loop as recycled unless the company began recycling glass itself or sending it downstream for further processing.

In their statement this week, Closed Loop representatives say the company has a goal of getting a furnace operational in Ohio next year.

"[Sending glass downstream] is a short-term measure designed to ensure compliance until the completion of Closed Loop’s proprietary leaded glass furnace in Columbus, currently slated for June 2015," the statement reads.

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LifeSpan acquired by refurb giant CDI

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:51
LifeSpan acquired by refurb giant CDI

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

Nov. 21, 2014

A major player in the IT refurbishing industry has bought asset disposition specialist LifeSpan.

CDI, a portfolio company of H.I.G. Growth, announced the deal in a Nov. 6 press release. Financial terms were not disclosed in the announcement.

“We are excited to be joining forces with CDI and H.I.G.,” said Dag Adamson, president and founder of LifeSpan in the release. “This partnership provides LifeSpan significant additional strategic, financial and operational resources to accelerate our growth and expand the scope of services we can provide to our customers.”

LifeSpan, which Adamson started in 2002, is based in Newton, Massachusetts and provides a full range of ITAD services, including data erasure and destruction and refurbishment. The firm's website notes processing centers and "processing partners" spread throughout the U.S. The company is certified to the e-Stewards standard.

CDI, meanwhile, is primarily a provider of refurbished electronics to institutions and businesses. In late October, the company announced a multi-million dollar deal with Jackson County, Florida public schools to provide refurbished tablets to students in grades K-12.

LifeSpan recently marked America Recycles Day with a free e-scrap drop-off event in Denver on Nov. 15. LifeSpan is also offering free drop-off services for a wide range of electronics at its facility through Nov. 21.

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Informal electronics recycling sector grabs attention in Singapore

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:49
Informal electronics recycling sector grabs attention in Singapore

By Jerry Powell and Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

Nov. 21, 2014

More than 200 attendees from over 30 countries convened earlier this month in Singapore to consider Asian e-scrap trends and issues.

And amid the presentations and panel discussions tackled at the Electronics Recycling Asia Conference, one recurring topic was Asia’s informal e-scrap sector.

Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network (BAN) and one of three opening speakers at the event, referred to Asia’s informal processing sphere as a "scourge," a "cancer" and in “crisis.” He said, "The current laws are good, but the enforcement is the problem."

In another panel, Patrick Wiedemann from the Reverse Logistics Group (RLG) also asserted enforcement need to be ramped up, but he stressed the importance of transforming the sector instead of simply eradicating it altogether.

“We should integrate the informal sector into a modern recycling system and not build a competitive system,” Wiedemann said from the stage. Wiedemmann said RLG has launched a handful of pilot projects in China to work alongside local collectors and offer consistent, standardized pricing for material.

Vans Chemistry’s Venkatesha Murthy, meanwhile, estimated 85 percent or more of e-scrap processing taking place in Asia comes via the informal sector. He, too, suggested finding ways to move that sector forward.

Improvements to large-scale collection infrastructures in Asia also emerged as a theme during the two-day conference.

Ronnie Tay, CEO of Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA), said, "Singapore is seeking to have a cost-effective electronics recycling system and we want to support a strong recycling industry.”

Residents and businesses in Singapore generated 66,000 tons of obsolete electronics last year, Tay said. The governmental department has helped launch a recovery system involving StarHub, DHL Logistics and TES-AMM, a local e-scrap processor. Singapore has also launched its own certification system – SS587 – to ensure firms are following strict guidelines in processing electronics.

Another speaker, Jinhui Li, noted there are now 106 local processors in China certified to one of the existing health and safety platforms. Li, a professor at Tsinghua University, has worked extensively on advising China’s government on e-scrap regulations.

Looking ahead, Puckett suggested BAN’s e-Stewards certification could also come to Asia with some notable shifts toward infrastructure, worker rights and the enforcement of international trade agreements to help stop “leakage” of non-Asian electronics.

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Certification scorecard

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:46
Certification scorecard

Nov. 21, 2014

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.

Electronic Recycling Solutions LLC of Tooele, Utah is now certified to the OHSAS 18001 and R2:2013 standards.

Globix LLC of Norcross, Georgia is now certified to the ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and R2:2013 standards.

Liquid Technology, Inc. of Brooklyn, New York is now certified to the following standards: e-Stewards, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and R2:2013.

Sims Recycling Solutions, Inc. has achieved R2:2013 certification at its facilities in Elkridge, Maryland; Franklin Park, Illinois; Hayward, California; LaVergne, Tennessee; Mississauga, Ontario; Rancho Dominguez, California; Roseville, California; Tampa, Florida; Tucson, Arizona; and West Chicago, Illinois.

American Data Guard of Seattle; File Thirteen of Lawton, Oklahoma; and Shred Experts LLC of Saginaw, Michigan 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, email 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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Wide world of e-scrap

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:44
Wide world of e-scrap

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

Nov. 21, 2014

An Australian artist uses old cell phones to mark the country's national recycling week while a waste prevention group in the U.K. launches a partnership with OEMs to spur recycling and reuse of electronics.

To celebrate Australia's national recycling week, Aussie artist Chris Jordan has made a mosaic sculpture out of 6,000 old and used mobile phones. The floor-based work features the number 23 to remind Australians to recycle the 23 million mobile devices residing in homes throughout the country.

Fresh off a new pact with the city of London to help increase its recycling rate, U.K.-based WRAP has announced yet another significant partnership. More than 50 organizations, including major electronics makers Dell, Microsoft and Samsung, have teamed up to work with WRAP on the Electrical and Electronic Sustainability Action Plan (ESAP). While limited details have surfaced on the initiative, ESAP will help steer device makers and stakeholders toward promoting reuse and recycling of electronics while also working to develop new products with longer lifespans and durability.

Globe Telecom is leading an effort in the Philippines to help boost recycling of mobile phones and other end-of-life electronics. The company, which is active throughout the country, has set up collection programs at partner stores in the Philippines, offering consumers a chance to enter a free raffle to win an iPad Air each month.

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NewsBits

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 12:38
NewsBits

Nov. 21, 2014

Lawmakers in Illinois are considering changes to the state's e-scrap program. House Bill 4202, sponsored by Democrat Emily McAsey, would increase manufacturers' yearly recycling obligations and keep collection and recycling firms from charging local communities for their services. While the Illinois Manufacturers Association is attempting to put the brakes on the immediate changes, citing budgetary constraints, proponents of the measure argue that current manufacturer collection goals are too low, leaving recycling firms collecting the material without enough financial backing for proper processing.

Some e-scrap processors desire to offer recycling services to cloud computing service providers. A basic primer on cloud computing based on data from Synergy Research Group shows that Amazon is by far the largest service provider, followed by Microsoft, IBM, Google, Salesforce and Rackspace. In terms of infrastructure equipment used in these server farms, Cisco is the leading manufacturer, followed by HP, IBM, Dell, EMC and VMware.

The folks over at iFixit have given Amazon's new Kindle tablet a favorable repairability score. Awarded a 7 out of 10, the Kindle Voyage is notably more repairable than its predecessors. For the group's hallmark step-by-step "teardown," click here.

Publicly traded E-Waste Systems has released third quarter financial results for the year, showing expenses continue to outpace revenues. During the quarter, expenses exceeded revenues by $422,990, bringing losses for the year thus far to just under $7.4 million. The company recently announced a reverse stock split "to obtain appropriate financing and make our capital structure more attractive to potential investors," Martin Nielson, E-Waste's CEO, explained in a release.


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WM exec delves into plastics-laden contamination concerns

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 13:31
WM exec delves into plastics-laden contamination concerns

By Dan Leif, Plastics Recycling Update

Nov. 20, 2014

Don't fear the evolving waste stream – but be judicious about what new packaging you allow in your recycling program. That was the message from a Waste Management leader speaking on an EPA webinar last week.

Susan Robinson, federal public affairs director for publicly traded WM, offered a number of insights about how the country's largest waste and recycling firm is trying to adapt to the "evolving ton" coming into material recovery facilities as paper use reduces and the plastics packaging space moves forward at light speed.

However, the takeaway from her 30-minute talk, which was part of the EPA's Sustainable Materials Management webinar series, was that the recycling industry should focus more on clean material and less on constantly increasing tonnages.

"Let's not divert material for diversion's sake alone," she said. "An overall environmental benefit should be the end goal."

While many industry players have in recent years begun to worry about the rise of flexible film packaging (of which some types are called pouches), Robinson was accepting of the trend, even though those pouches are not easily recyclable because they are constructed using layers of different types of resins and materials.

Robinson, for instance, cited figures (from a flexible plastic packaging group) that showed packaging soup in a flexible film package instead of a steel can would decrease packaging weight from 312.4 grams to 28.4 grams. The figures indicated carbon emissions associated with the film packaging were roughly one-tenth of those of the steel can option – much of those carbon savings are a result of the fact that pouches simply use less material to begin with.

Recycling advocates, Robinson noted, should not be standing in the way of such developments.

"Not everything is recycled in a true circular economy," she said. "Have we put on blinders where recycling is the only thing we care about? Are we so focused on hitting end-of-life recycling numbers that we forget about the first R – reduce?"

Those questions, however, raise another: If more hard-to-recycle packaging is replacing staple MRF materials like metal and paper, how will the industry continue to move forward?

Robinson suggested a broader push to make sure the high-value items that do enter the stream avoid contamination along the way.

She said Waste Management's 49 single-stream MRFs in the U.S. currently see an average of 16 percent contamination on in-bound loads, an increase of 3 percentage points over the company's "historic" rates.

She added every ton of contaminants costs the company $140 in disposal fees and lost revenue. Due to contamination increases, WM's recycling processing expenditures grew 20 percent over the last two years, Robinson said.

Her first suggestion to improve the situation: Keep plastic bags out of recycling carts, and advocate systems to have them returned to retail locations instead.

"We clean screens six to eight times a day to cut plastic bags out of sorting equipment," she said. "From our perspective, not much good comes from film plastic coming to our MRFs. But there are robust markets for that material if it's clean and dry."

Robinson also said she was encouraged by broader initiatives WM and industry partners are undertaking to better communicate to residents which items should be placed curbside.

She said WM is working to push ahead its "Recycle Often, Recycle Right" campaign that aims to deliver three basic messages to consumers: Recycle all empty bottles, cans and paper; keep foods and liquids out; and recycle plastic bags at retail locations.

The awareness effort includes unbranded flyers and brochures the company is sharing with "anyone who wants them."

"Those who have survived the last couple of years in recycling are now a lot better at what we do," Robinson said. "We know the stream better and have gotten better at communicating with public. … I'm actually more optimistic than I've been. We're communicating with one voice, which is really key for recycling in the future."

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Plastics Recycling 2015: Extra events boost value

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 13:28
Plastics Recycling 2015: Extra events boost value

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Nov. 20, 2014

The upcoming Plastics Recycling 2015 conference will be held alongside a number of key industry meetings and education opportunities that will make the trip to Dallas even more worth your while.

The following business-boosting events are scheduled to take place: Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) membership and committee meetings; the Global Plastics Environmental Conference (GPEC); SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association's Tech Summit; and the Paper Stock Industries (PSI) chapter conferences. These gatherings complement the bustling trade show, expertly curated sessions and extensive networking opportunity available at Plastics Recycling 2015.

Plastics Recycling 2015 is taking place Feb. 23-25 at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, Texas. More than 1775 attendees from 30 countries were on hand at the 2014 edition, and a similar turnout is expected in Dallas. Head to plasticsrecycling.com for all the information on attending, exhibiting and sponsoring.


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Plastics-to-oil player fined by Oregon regulators

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 13:25
Plastics-to-oil player fined by Oregon regulators

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Nov. 20, 2014

Plastics-to-oil firm Agilyx has been fined close to $50,000 by Oregon environmental officials for alleged hazardous waste violations at its research facility.  The company has appealed those penalties.

In a notice of violation (NOV) sent to the company on Oct. 21, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) details a list of violations found during a 2013 inspection of Agilyx’s Tigard, Oregon research operation. The company has appealed the DEQ’s $49,702 penalty.

According to the DEQ, which inspected the 7904 Hunziker St. site last year on Oct. 14 and 15, Agilyx was cited for improper storage and labeling of hazardous waste, "failure to maintain an up-to-date contingency plan and failure to properly train employees for managing hazardous waste." Similar violations were identified during an inspection of the facility in 2011, the notice points out.

The company’s vice president of business development, Jon Angin, sent a two-paragraph response to Plastics Recycling Update, arguing that the NOV was related to issues raised and corrected in 2013. "None of the issues raised by DEQ involved environmental health impacts or created risk to the public," Angin states. "DEQ acknowledged that the issues have been addressed."

The NOV itself suggests containers holding hazardous waste water were not labeled according to regulations and, in select instances, were not properly stored and sealed. In addition, Agilyx did not keep records showing workers in charge of handling hazardous waste had been trained to do so, nor was there an updated contact list in the event of an emergency, per the report.

As a company specializing in the developing plastics-to-oil field, Agilyx has been able to garner significant funding to drive its research and operations, including support from billionaire Richard Branson. The company's offices are located in Beaverton, Oregon, just four miles from the Tigard research hub.

Agilyx’s only other facility, located in Portland, was recently closed after partner and investor Waste Management decided to wait until more advanced technology was released.

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PetroChem Wire: Recycled PET prices slip slightly

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 13:23
PetroChem Wire: Recycled PET prices slip slightly

Nov. 20, 2014

Various grades of recycled PET showed price weakness in mid-November related to the downward trend in the prime PET market.

Clear rPET high-grade regrind was reported sold around 58 to 59 cents per pound in the second week of November, down about 1.5 cents per pound from the beginning of the month. Recycled PET pellet pricing also weakened slightly.

Prime prices continue to slide due to a general oversupply in the U.S. market. Generic prime PET was offered last week at 61 cents per pound FOB Los Angeles/Long Beach. Domestic prime bottle grade PET held at 69 to 69.5 cents per pound, delivered railcar to the Midwest.

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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Patent watch

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 13:18
Patent watch

Nov. 20, 2014

A method of recycling scrap plastic film is the subject of Patent No. 8,845,840, awarded to Mitsubishi Polyester Film, Inc. from Greer, South Carolina.

Larry and Mark Koening, from Pickerington, Ohio, were given Patent No. 8,851,409 for a process for compacting EPS foam plastics.

Tokyo's Ricoh Company, Ltd. was given Patent Application No. 20140275397 for a method and apparatus of blending and compounding different types of reclaimed plastic resins.

Patent Application No. 20140275414, given to the Adeka Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, concerns a method for recycling different types of scrap plastics.

MBA Polymers, Inc., from Nottingham, Great Britain, was awarded Patent Application No. 20140231557 for a delineation of the processes and requirements of recovering plastic materials from durable goods.

Patent Application No. 20140232043 was given to Escanaffles, Belgium-based Futerro S.A. for describing composition of polymers derived from scrap plastic materials.

Aachen, Germany-based Fecken-Kirfel GMBH & Co. KG was awarded Patent Application No. 20140251108 for a scrap plastic shredding device.

A method of processing scrap plastics is the subject of Patent Application No. 20140252142, given to Montrose, West Virginia's David Rice.

Michael J. Smith, from Northville, Michigan, was awarded Patent Application No. 20140272258 for a method of making recycled polystyrene sheet.

Patent Application No. 20140272262 was given to Spartanburg, South Carolina-based Milliken & Company for a single-polymer recycled floorcovering.

For more information on these or any patents, please consult the U.S. Patent Office database online.

Copies of patents can be ordered by number for $3 each from the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA, 22313-1450.

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NewsBits

Plastics Recycling Update Magazine - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 13:03
NewsBits

Nov. 20, 2014

A pair of plastics recycling-oriented firm nabbed funding through a California state grant program, details of which were released this week. Command Packaging, which manufactures reusable plastic carry-out bags, will receive $3 million to upgrade equipment at its facility in Vernon to produce bags with higher recycled content. The funding will also help the firm expand capacity at its Salinas-area Encore Recycling facility, which diverts agricultural film plastic. Peninsula Plastics Recycling, Inc., meanwhile, will receive $1 million for equipment that will enable it to recover approximately 45 percent of its current recycling process byproduct and recycle it into landscaping material.

In other California news, the state's PET recycling rate from January to June 2014 topped out at 72 percent while the overall container recycling rate reached 84 percent, new state figures show. For a detailed breakdown of recent figures by container type, click here.

According to a survey released last week by the American Chemistry Council's Plastics Make it Possible campaign, 8 percent of Americans say they recycle all of their recyclables. The survey also found that roughly half of Americans recycle 75 percent of their recyclables. "While nearly all Americans have access to recycling today, this survey shows that better communication and easier access to relevant information should help improve participation rates," said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council.

Plastics-conversion startup GreenMantra has raised a reported $17 million in funding to help further its efforts to convert plastics into wax, fuel and lubricants. Specifically, the Ontario-based firm has set its sights on increasing production and building an additional wax facility in Quebec to meet customer demand. GreenMantra was a finalist in the 2013 Recycling Innovators Forum, produced by the publisher of Plastics Recycling Update.

 

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Data sought for household recyclables study

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 19:51
Data sought for household recyclables study

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Nov. 18, 2014

State officials in North Carolina seek information from all aspects of the recycling industry to help accurately gauge how many pounds of recyclables a household generates per year. Can you help?

If you think your city or county has relevant statistics on household recyclables, please click here and answer North Carolina's call for data.


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How industry marked America Recycles Day

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 09:47
How industry marked America Recycles Day

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Nov. 18, 2014

Unless you've been living under a landfill, you know the yearly advocacy event America Recycles Day took place this past weekend. We hopped on Twitter to take a look at the ways industry firms and organizations celebrated the occasion.

The hashtag #americarecyclesday spread like wildfire on and around Nov. 15, gracing the Twitter accounts of the U.S. EPA and President Barack Obama as well as those of electronics makers, major car manufacturers and, of course, recycling firms and groups.

Here's a sampling of the chatter:

 

Read the Presidential Proclamation for America Recycles Day: http://t.co/22exoRmWjk @whitehouse #AmericaRecyclesDay

— US EPA Research (@EPAresearch) November 15, 2014

 

 

It's #AmericaRecyclesDay! Does the national recycling rate surprise you? Ask a friend to take the pledge today. pic.twitter.com/5zzDABqjeP

— KeepAmericaBeautiful (@kabtweet) November 15, 2014

 

 

Hard at work disassembling tech @GoodwillIntl for #AmericaRecyclesDay! Go team @dell! pic.twitter.com/yND4JYetDs

— Dell Legacy of Good (@Dell4Good) November 15, 2014

 

 

This #Ford Truck Plant recycles 20 million pounds of cardboard, paper, plastic & wood. Happy #AmericaRecyclesDay! pic.twitter.com/Y0gN4JRDT1

— Ford Drive Green (@FordDriveGreen) November 15, 2014

 

 

MIT recycles! This is one of our "green machines" ♻ http://t.co/aRd7HsvlvN #AmericaRecyclesDay pic.twitter.com/q4Hd063hOO

— MIT (@MIT) November 15, 2014

 

 

Pictures of kids from #AmericaRecyclesDay http://t.co/evQukJ1voA #RORR pic.twitter.com/pm4Id9pjJk

— Waste Management (@WasteManagement) November 17, 2014

 

 

Thank You all for helping out with a very successful #AmericaRecyclesDay on Saturday here is Ted Black@BuffaloSabres pic.twitter.com/2qwZJJdbcl

— Erie County DEP (@ErieCoDEP) November 17, 2014

 

With the holidays coming, challenge yourself to #recycle all the plastic bags &product wraps u get on ur grocery trips. #AmericaRecyclesDay

— Recycle Plastic (@Recycle_Plastic) November 13, 2014

 

Happy #AmericaRecyclesDay Minneapolis! One-sort recycling makes it easy even when winter hits. http://t.co/BaQoU5JuQk

— Betsy Hodges (@MayorHodges) November 15, 2014

 

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Resource Recycling Conference 2015: A networking hotbed

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 09:43
Resource Recycling Conference 2015: A networking hotbed

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Nov. 18, 2014

"This was the best networking conference I've ever attended." That was the feedback offered from one industry executive at the close of this year's Resource Recycling Conference, and the upcoming edition will offer the same opportunities for key connections.

Resource Recycling Conference 2015, scheduled for next September, will be attracting top industry decision-makers to Indianapolis for a full slate of education sessions as well as a number of co-located events, including the National Recycling Coalition's annual members meeting and Re-TRAC Connect workshops. The array of programming geared to leading recycling executives and officials simply cannot be found at any other North American recycling gathering.

If you want your municipality or firm to be part of the conversations shaping the future of materials diversion and sustainability, mark your calendar now for Resource Recycling Conference 2015.

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

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WM exec delves into contamination concerns

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 09:40
WM exec delves into contamination concerns

By Dan Leif, Resource Recycling

Nov. 18, 2014

Don't fear the evolving waste stream.  But be judicious about what new packaging you allow in your recycling program.  That was the message from a Waste Management leader speaking on an EPA webinar last week.

Susan Robinson, federal public affairs director for publicly traded WM, offered a number of insights about how the country's largest waste and recycling firm is trying to adapt to the "evolving ton" coming into materials recovery facilities as paper use declines and the plastics packaging space moves forward at light speed.

However, the takeaway from her 30-minute talk, which was part of the EPA's Sustainable Materials Management webinar series, was that the recycling industry should focus more on clean material and less on constantly increasing tonnages.

"Let's not divert material for diversion's sake alone," she said.  "An overall environmental benefit should be the end goal."

While many industry players have in recent years begun to worry about the rise of flexible film packaging (think pouches, among other types), Robinson was accepting of the trend, even though these materials are not easily recyclable because they are constructed using layers of different types of resin and other materials.

Robinson, for instance, cited figures from a flexible plastic packaging group that showed packaging soup in a flexible film package instead of a steel can would decrease packaging weight from 312.4 grams to 28.4 grams.  The figures indicate carbon emissions associated with the film packaging were roughly one-tenth of those of the steel can option – much of those carbon savings are a result of the fact that pouches simply use less material to begin with.

Recycling advocates, Robinson noted, should not be standing in the way of such developments.

"Not everything is recycled in a true circular economy," she said.  "Have we put on blinders where recycling is the only thing we care about?  Are we so focused on hitting end-of-life recycling numbers that we forget about the first R – reduce?"

Those questions raise another: If more hard-to-recycle packaging is replacing staple MRF materials like metal and paper, how will the industry continue to move forward?

Robinson suggested a broader push to make sure the high-value items that do enter the stream avoid contamination along the way.

She said Waste Management's 49 single-stream MRFs in the U.S. currently see an average of 16 percent contamination on in-bound loads, an increase of 3 percentage points over the company's "historic" rates.

She added every ton of contaminants costs the company $140 in disposal fees and lost revenue. Due to contamination increases, WM's recycling processing expenditures grew 20 percent over the last two years, Robinson said.

Her first suggestion to improve the situation: Keep plastic bags out of recycling carts, and promote systems in which bags are returned to retail locations instead.

"We clean screens six to eight times a day to cut plastic bags out of sorting equipment," she said.  "From our perspective not much good comes from film plastic coming to our MRFs.  But there are robust markets for that material if it's clean and dry."

Robinson also said she was encouraged by broader initiatives WM and industry partners are undertaking to better communicate to residents which items should be placed curbside.

She said WM is working to push ahead its "Recycle Often. Recycle Right" campaign that aims to deliver three basic messages to consumers: Recycle all empty bottles, cans and paper; keep foods and liquids out; and recycle plastic bags at retail locations.

The awareness effort includes unbranded flyers and brochures the company is sharing with "anyone who wants them."

"Those who have survived the last couple of years in recycling are now a lot better at what we do," Robinson said.  "We know the stream better and have gotten better at communicating with public. … I'm actually more optimistic than I've been.  We're communicating with one voice, which is really key for recycling in the future."

To return to the Resource Recycling newsletter, click here

 

Recycling by the numbers

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 09:36
Recycling by the numbers

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Nov. 18, 2014

Every now and then, numbers tell it all – or at least a lot. This week we look at some recently released figures at the center of industry milestones, announcements and trends.

8: According to a survey released last week by the American Chemistry Council's Plastics Make it Possible campaign, 8 percent of Americans say they recycle all of their recyclables. The survey also found that roughly half of Americans recycle 75 percent of their recyclables. "While nearly all Americans have access to recycling today, this survey shows that better communication and easier access to relevant information should help improve participation rates," said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council.

21: Philadelphia has increased its recycling rate to 21 percent. Recycling 128,000 tons of material during the 2014 fiscal year, Philadelphians have nearly tripled their diversion output since 2008. They've also been rewarded for their good work through the city's partnership with Recyclebank, which tracks the efforts of 195,000 households in the City of Brotherly Love and gives out discounts at local retailers and restaurants.

33: Results from a Harris public opinion poll conducted on behalf of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) suggest just 33 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 "always" recycle. For comparison's sake, 48 percent of the 35 and older crowd say the same. "Clearly, more needs to be done both to encourage recycling and better comprehend why younger generations aren’t seeing the energy, environmental and economic benefits that recycling provides," ISRI's president, Robin Wiener, stated in a press release.

90: By the end of 2017, aluminum titan Novelis will aim to produce all of its beverage can sheet using 90 percent recycled content. The company's Evercan offering represents a step up from the current global industry standard of using 50 percent recycled content, representatives of publicly traded Novelis said.

8,500,000: Republic Services' third quarter financials show the company netted $8.5 million in sales of recyclables. That total is slightly below the $8.9 million the company reaped during the same quarter last year. On the year thus far, the recycling business has generated $26.0 million, which is also off from last year's January-September totals of $26.9 million. Republic's quarterly report cites the "volatility" of recycled commodity pricing as a significant trend in 2014.

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Informal electronics recycling sector grabs attention in Singapore

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 09:31
Informal electronics recycling sector grabs attention in Singapore

By Jerry Powell and Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Nov. 18, 2014

More than 200 attendees from more than 30 countries convened earlier this month in Singapore to consider Asian e-scrap trends and issues.

And amid the presentations and panel discussions tackled at the Electronics Recycling Asia Conference, one recurring topic was Asia’s informal e-scrap sector.

Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network (BAN) and one of three opening speakers at the event, referred to Asia’s informal processing sphere as a “scourge,” a “cancer” and in “crisis.” He suggested “the current laws are good, but the enforcement is the problem.”

In another panel, Patrick Wiedemann from the Reverse Logistics Group (RLG) also asserted enforcement need to be ramped up, but he stressed the importance of transforming the sector instead of simply eradicating it altogether.

“We should integrate the informal sector into a modern recycling system and not build a competitive system,” Wiedemann said from the stage. Wiedemann said RLG has launched a handful of pilot projects in China to work alongside local collectors and offer consistent, standardized pricing for material.

Vans Chemistry’s Venkatesha Murthy estimated “85 percent or more” of e-scrap processing taking place in Asia comes from the informal sector. He, too, suggested finding ways to move that sector forward.

Improvements to large-scale collection infrastructures in Asia also emerged as a theme during the two-day conference.

Ronnie Tay, CEO of Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA), said “Singapore is seeking to have a cost-effective electronics recycling system and we want to support a strong recycling industry.”

Residents and businesses in Singapore generated 66,000 tons of obsolete electronics last year, Tay said.  The governmental department has helped launch a recovery system involving StarHub, DHL Logistics and TES-AMM, a local e-scrap processor.  Singapore has launched its own certification system – SS587 – to ensure firms are following strict guidelines in processing electronics.

Another speaker, Jinhui Li, noted there are now 106 local processors in China certified to one of the existing health and safety platforms. Li, a professor at Tsinghua University, has worked extensively on advising China’s government on e-scrap regulations.

Looking ahead, Puckett suggested BAN’s e-Stewards certification could also come to Asia with some notable shifts toward infrastructure, worker rights and the enforcement of international trade agreements to help stop “leakage” of non-Asian electronics.

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NewsBits

Resource Recycling Magazine - Tue, 11/18/2014 - 09:26
NewsBits

Nov. 18, 2014

California's January-June 2014 can recycling rate topped out at 100 percent while the overall container recycling rate reached 84 percent, new state figures show. For a detailed breakdown of recent figures by container type, click here.

The first year of Connecticut's paint take-back program led to the recycling of more than 240,000 gallons of paint. Managed by manufacturer-backed PaintCare, Connecticut's program charges residents buying new paint a recycling fee, which is then funnelled into a fund to cover the cost of collecting and recovering old paint.

With landfilling of clothes reaching all-time highs in the Empire State, the New York State Association of Reduction, Reuse and Recycling has ">set up a textile recycling campaign.  Clothes the Loop NY will promote the importance and ease of reusing and recycling textiles through special collection events and permanent drop-off sites. New Yorkers are said to landfill 1.4 billion pounds of clothes each year.

Ever wonder what the future of recycling systems will hold? Well, the Next Generation ZenRobotics Recycler may be a good place to start. The "robotic waste sorting system" can perform up to 4,000 "picks" per hour, according to the Helsinki-based company, separating items by material and all-but-eliminating the need of hand sorting. And while it may be a thing of the future, it's available for purchase today.

Residents of Florida's Palm Beach County managed to recycle 87,000 tons of material during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. That recycling activity, new statistics show, translated $842,000 in revenues back to the individual municipalities within the County through a unique revenue sharing program installed in 2010. Since its founding, the program has generated more than $7 million for Palm Beach County municipalities.

The City of Detroit is gradually unrolling its long-awaited curbside recycling program. The program, which is being co-run by Advanced Disposal and Rizzo Environmental, has thus far started servicing around 24,000 residents.

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Groups push to maintain legal unlocking of mobile devices

E-Scrap News Magazine - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 20:48
Groups push to maintain legal unlocking of mobile devices

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

Nov. 14, 2014

Reuse and recycling advocates are attempting to convince the U.S. Copyright Office to continue to allow consumers and companies to unlock cell phones and tablets without the approval of wireless carriers.

In several legal appeals filed with the U.S. Copyright Office and catalogued by the Electronics Frontier Foundation (EFF), advocates from across the industry voiced support for unlimited carrier-free unlockings, a process that was made illegal in 2012 by the Librarian of Congress.

Though lawmakers recently acted to overturn the Librarian of Congress action, unlocking could be deemed illegal again in 2015. Unlocking is a process by which a user can bypass the software code placed on a device by a carrier and allow for service from any operator. Advocates are pushing for both individual unlocking rights as well as "bulk" unlockings.

"Consumers should have the right to maintain the useful life of their mobile phones and other mobile communications devices," Consumers Union, the advocacy wing of Consumer Reports, writes in one such appeal.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) writes in another appeal that "without a 1201 exemption, owners of tablets, including consumers, family members, and legitimate resellers and recyclers, are substantially impaired in their ability to make a variety of noninfringing uses."

While the U.S. Congress passed legislation this year making unlockings legal, the Librarian of Congress has the opportunity in 2015 to either reaffirm the prior ruling or reverse course based on an interpretation of Section 1201 of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. That 2015 ruling will likely last until 2018.

On two prior occasions, in 2010 and 2012, EFF was successful in lobbying, alongside others, for an exemption for unlockings.

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