Resource Recycling Magazine

Updated: 15 hours 12 min ago

Plenty of recycling jazz on display in New Orleans

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 13:42
Plenty of recycling jazz on display in New Orleans

By Dan Leif, Resource Recycling

Sept. 25, 2014

The education sessions at the fifth annual Resource Recycling Conference began by providing inspiration and ended with a spirited debate over one of the industry's most controversial topics.

The conference, held last week at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, offered two days of on-stage perspective from leading industry decision-makers and researchers. But the first address came from an industry outsider: writer, designer and sustainability celebrity William McDonough.

McDonough, who shared the stage in a "Large Scale Innovation" session with Walmart sustainability chief Rob Kaplan, covered a remarkably wide variety of topics in his half-hour talk. But his main message emerged with clarity: Recycling professionals in the room really can make a difference in improving America's environmental and economic credentials.

"When did we get the right to pollute?" he asked. "Let's eliminate the concept of waste. … Design up from the Dumpsters."

From there, the sessions moved into more practical-application territory. A markets panel took attendees inside the day-to-day factors affecting pricing of recovered plastic, paper and aluminum. A plastics discussion looked at major trends such as China's Green Fence policies and the ways they are continuing to shape demand for material. And a session aimed at recycling coordinators updated them on the evolution of state recycling organizations and offered tips for staying relevant with outreach.

Wednesday morning belonged to the leaders of two much-hyped initiatives that aim to leverage corporate dollars to push forward municipal recycling programs. Ron Gonen, leader of the $100 million Closed Loop Fund, laid out the foundations of the fund's approach and noted he is continuing to work to bring other corporate heavyweights on-board. Keefe Harrison, leader of the Recycling Partnership, bubbled with excitement as she announced the first three partner cities that will work beside the initiative, officially moving the program out of planning and into implementation. "It feels so good to finally be speaking in the present tense about this," she said.

The conference's final session, held Wednesday afternoon, offered pro and con perspectives on the concept of extended producer responsibility — the materials management philosophy where product producers pay for and organize some level of recovery infrastructure for a given material.

Paul Gardner of the group Recycling Reinvented and Usman Valiente, a consultant who has years of experience developing EPR programs in Canada, helped articulate why EPR should be considered for more materials in the modern recovery stream, including printed paper and packaging (PPP).

Chaz Miller of the National Waste & Recycling Association and the Grocery Manufacturers Association's Meghan Stasz, meanwhile, offered the opposing view. Resource Recycling founder and executive editor Jerry Powell stood in the middle as moderator.

The EPR debate was not one either side was going to win in a 90-minute session, but the knowledge and experience of the five individuals on stage made for a compelling discussion. One argument between Miller and Valiente over the possibilities of market forces when it comes to increasing multifamily recycling was particularly testy.

The main takeaway from the session, however, was that any EPR considerations need to be made with data and good long-term public policy in mind.

"When we think about the recycling rates in the U.S.," Stasz said, "we throw around all these blanket numbers. Some will tell you our rates are absolutely abysmal. Some will say they are absolutely wonderful. The reality is recycling is incredibly different from place to place in the U.S., so it's really dangerous to say that America doesn't recycle well and therefore we have to do something about it."

When it comes to finding ways to move materials recovery forward, added Valiente, "you have to put dogma and religion aside and look at it in a principled way, deciding whether a given tool is the right tool or not. And if EPR is the right tool, then how it gets implemented is just as important as EPR itself."

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Houston invests $5 million in recycling carts

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 13:37
Houston invests $5 million in recycling carts

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 25, 2014

Even as they mull the merits of commingling trash and recyclables, officials in Houston have decided to provide all residents with 96-gallon carts.

The addition, which is expected to cost the municipality roughly $5 million, will bring 95,000 carts to the residents still without them — about a quarter of the population. The move does not, however, represent a stepping back from plans to launch Houston's controversial "One Bin for All" program, officials told Texas news outlets last week.

At present, the City is reviewing proposals to build a materials recovery facility (MRF) that would aim to sort and recover recyclables from trash and food scraps. Under the "One Bin" program, residents would be allowed to throw everything in one bin — or, more accurately, one cart.

If approved, the program would enlist residents to use their carts, whether newly installed or long-standing, for trash, recyclables and organics. No source-separation would be required and the city says a tech-heavy MRF could divert 75 percent of material from landfill.

The city's current residential recycling rate is 6 percent.

Environmentalists and the recycled commodities industry have vehemently opposed the plan, arguing that commingling recyclables with wet materials — including diapers and organics — substantially dampens their potential value.

A similar plan in Indianapolis has been hit with a lawsuit, which calls into question the Midwest municipality's decision-making process.


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NRC takes on recycling definition

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 13:33
NRC takes on recycling definition

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Sept. 25, 2014

What is recycling? Last week a number of industry leaders tried to come up with a clear and concise answer.

During a National Recycling Coalition board meeting, top recycling advocates engaged in a lively debate on the group's working definition of recycling and its potential implications. As part of NRC's policy and advocacy work, the group is attempting to clarify what it views as recycling and what, by extension, it views as disposal.

The meeting, which took place during the 2014 Resource Recycling Conference in New Orleans and was attended by a Resource Recycling reporter, also featured a special guest, author and sustainability leader William McDonough. After delivering the conference's keynote address alongside Walmart's Rob Kaplan, McDonough agreed to sit in on NRC's meeting and offer his insight on the group's draft definition of recycling, which had been in the works for several months.

NRC representatives had defined recycling as "a series of activities by which material that has reached the end of its useful life is processed into materials utilized in the production of new products." McDonough suggested a slightly broader alternative: "Recycling is a series of activities by which resources that have ended their current use are reprocessed and made available for the creation of new products to be used in the marketplace."

Those two definitions may seem nearly identical, but the nuanced distinctions were enough to create a town hall-esque back-and-forth as the board meeting progressed.

During the hour-long exchange, many argued the NRC definition was problematic in its implication that all materials that are recycled have indeed "reached the end" of their useful life — many materials, members reminded other members, are recycled despite being perfectly useful.

Others argued that the McDonough-inspired definition was too widespread in its use of "resources" instead of "material."

"You could recycle water, but we're meaning to talk about waste," Susan Collins of the Container Recycling Institute contended. Jay Bassett, who also sat in to offer insight from the federal EPA, offered a strong warning on the use of "resources" instead of "materials." He said that "there are regulatory meanings to these terms," and that the use of "resources" could open the door to free-wheeling implications.

At one point Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, urged members to consider brevity and clarity above all else. "Simplicity is critical here," she said. Stephen Bantillo, who worked with Fran McPoland on shaping the original definition through extensive stakeholder and member outreach, added, "We want the shortest elevator speech we can come up with."

For his part, McDonough stressed that he was "here to learn" and, after hearing Wiener and Bantillo's comments, happily ceded "it sounds like a good idea to use materials [instead of resources]."

 

Thx @billmcdonough for joining us for the discussion and adoption of NRC's new definition of recycling! #RRC2014 pic.twitter.com/7nqCA5FxwM

— NRCrecycles.org (@NRCrecycles) September 16, 2014

 

Beyond the single definition itself, the group is also formulating positions on hot button topics such as "one bin" processing and waste to energy. Neither approach, at least for now, is deemed recycling by the group, according to a draft notice reviewed by Resource Recycling.

By meeting's end, the group managed to settle on an amalgam of the two definitions, settling on the following description: "Recycling is a series of activities by which material that has reached the end of its current use is processed into material utilized in the production of new products."

After the meeting, Mark Lichtenstein said the "lively debate" was a sign that "the old NRC was coming back." That perspective was one he also espoused in NRC's annual meeting the day before.

 

We, Nat. Recycling Coalition, redefine recycling with Bill McDonough's help @CradletoCradle @billmcdonough @rrecycling #recyclingdefinition

— Mark Lichtenstein (@Mark_M_Lich) September 23, 2014

 

During that meeting, NRC leaders briefed a room of more than 35 members, including a dozen or so board members, on NRC's goings-on over the past year. While the group has been relatively light on headline-worthy news, bringing out a series of webinars and working on completing the merger of RONA with NRC, Lichtenstein reiterated that "we continue to grow."

"Be patient with us," Lichtenstein said at the meeting with members. "This organization will survive. The question is: What will it look like?"

Surviving was once a major question mark for NRC, especially when Lichtenstein took the helm of the group in 2010. At the time, the group was more than $1.5 million in debt. Last week, NRC officials said NRC had about $85,000 in cash and cash equivalents as of March 31, 2014.

NRC's annual budget is $86,000, the group has $98,000 in assets and $190,000 in a trust fund, the group reported.

In other NRC news, the group announced the results of its board elections, as well as the winners of the NRC National Awards, both of which will be covered in a later story in Resource Recycling.

 

Congratulations to the winners of the 2014 NRC National awards! #nrcawards #rrc2014 pic.twitter.com/7KH25ExGNt

— NRCrecycles.org (@NRCrecycles) September 18, 2014

 

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Seattle leaders allow fines for residents who don't compost

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 13:23
Seattle leaders allow fines for residents who don't compost

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 25, 2014

The Emerald City is breaking out the stick in its fight to keep food scraps out of landfills.

City Council members Monday voted 9-0 in favor of a mandate that enables trash collectors to levy $1 fines against individuals and families found to be throwing out food scraps instead of composting them. The law will go into effect in 2015 and will also apply to multi-family homes, where fines could be as high as $50, the Associated Press reports.

Seattle has provided composting and yard debris collection since 2012, and its recycling rate is now around 56 percent. That said, the AP reports that waste audits in Seattle continue to show that recyclables and compostables make up one-third to one-half of the material that gets thrown out.

With a 60 percent recycling rate goal set for next year, Seattle leaders hope the composting mandate will contribute to an increase in its overall recovery numbers. San Francisco has also passed a law to fine residents for not composting.

Trash collectors in Seattle will be able to "warn" residents as soon as Jan. 1 of any potential violations, with actual fines starting in July of 2015.

Statistics from the U.S. EPA suggest that food waste represents a major opportunity to increase recovery rates nationwide — in 2012, food scraps accounted for 14.5 percent of the total waste generated by Americans, and just 4.8 percent of that material was composted.

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Wide world of recycling

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 13:21
Wide world of recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 25, 2014

China's capital installs a new crop of reverse vending machines. Meanwhile, the country as a whole may be producing more material than the shifting informal recycling sector can handle.

Beijing is aiming to boost bottle recycling through a number of newly installed reverse vending machines that offer 5 to 15 cents in public transportation or mobile phone credits for each container residents turn. If the approach works, officials will likely expand the program.

In other news out of China, Bloomberg's Adam Minter recently reported that the country's famous "scrap peddlers" are struggling to keep up with the waste stream. The number of individuals who pull reusable and recyclable materials out of trash heaps seems to be dropping just as garbage generation in the massive country continues to grow. "For Chinese officials," Minter predicts, "the decline in the scrap trade means they’ll finally have to invest in municipal recycling programs (and, perhaps, composting)."

The New York Times recently delved into the growing demand for recycling access among residents in Russia. As landfills fill up and a new sense of environmentalism hits some Russian consumers, many individuals are starting to find ways to divert materials even when local governments have no formal programs in place.

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NewsBits

Wed, 09/24/2014 - 13:18
NewsBits

Sept. 25, 2014

The National Waste & Recycling Association's (NW&RA) annual review of workplace deaths among trash and recycling collectors is in, and initial data suggests fatalities increased in 2013. A total of 33 fatalities occurred during the year, up from 26 in 2012. "We are disappointed to see the slight increase in fatal injuries in our industry," said John Haudenshield, director of safety with NW&RA.

Aluminum beverage cans were reported to be the "most recycled beverage packaging type in the U.S." with an industry recycling rate of 66.7 percent in 2013, according to new information released by the Aluminum Association, Can Manufacturers Institute and Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.  According to a press release, "this marks the third consecutive year the rate has held above 65 percent, compared to an average rate of 54 percent reported during the previous decade."

A bill in Michigan would require recycling firms to report quarterly "recycling activity reports" to the state, outlining the estimated amount of recycling done by product. The Michigan Recycling Coalition is backing the measure, introduced Sept. 9 by Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, as an important piece to "identify gaps in service provision and infrastructure" and "benchmark and track progress" as the state aims to double its recycling rate by 2016.

Single-stream collection of recyclables has continued to make big gains across America in recent years, but a short article on the site of The Atlantic questions whether that trend is really a good thing. The story notes the approach saves money for haulers and cities but that it also could mean more recyclables headed to landfill. The national publication's perspective may cause some residents to look at their local collection system in a new light, but don't expect it to derail the single-stream momentum.

Sacramento, California appears to be standing pat with every-other-week recycling collection. A survey of 640 city residents asked whether weekly collection would be desirable, and 75 percent or respondents said the current twice-per-month approach works just fine. What's more, residents were adamant that they would be even less likely to support weekly collection if it meant fees would increase.

This year's SXSW Eco Conference will feature a recycling panel, "Reycling More vs. Recycling Right in America." Moderated by NW&RA's president and CEO Sharon Kneiss, the panel will feature Keep America Beautiful's Jennifer M. Jehn, Susan Ghertner with H-E-B Grocery Company and Philadelphia's recycling director, Phil Bresee.

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Recycling Partnership announces pacts with three cities

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 19:08
Recycling Partnership announces pacts with three cities

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Sept. 17, 2014

The Recycling Partnership will put its public-private funding model to the test with projects in Virginia, South Carolina and Alabama. Leaders from the curbside recycling program are expected to announce the development at the 2014 Resource Recycling Conference.

The Partnership, which is housed under the Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) and will use private funding from its lineup of sponsors to unlock further public funds, will begin work in three Southeast cities: Richmond, Virginia; Columbia, South Carolina; and Florence, Alabama. Bins will be replaced by carts in each city, and that effort will be accompanied by an advanced push to educate local leaders and citizens about the importance of making use of the bigger receptacles.

A fourth city is expected to be added to that list by the end of 2014.

"Within a week of launching on July 1, 2014, our inaugural funders had narrowed down the pool, dedicated a budget, and empowered CVP to begin contract negotiations," Keefe Harrison, CVP executive director, said. "We appreciate their swift decision-making and belief in our goal of leveraging grants and technical assistance to transform the U.S. curbside recycling system."

According to CVP, the push could create significant recycling gains in the partner municipalities. In Columbia, for example, CVP believes household recycling could increase by 500 percent, going from an annual 75 pounds per household per year to 450 pounds per household.

The Recycling Partnership began as a project of the Southeast Recycling Development Council and was eventually handed off to the Curbside Recycling Partnership. The goal of the public-private initiative is to branch out from its initial starting place in the Southeast and move to a national platform.

To make it work, Harrison and her team have secured funding from major industry players. That funding, which surpassed the $1.2 million mark earlier this summer, is used to facilitate the immediate switch from bins to carts in cities and entice municipalities to come forward with money of their own to invest in recycling.

Mike Pope, director of procurement at one CVP partner, Sonoco Recycling, suggested the educational side of the project would play a key role in ensuring increased recycling does not lead to unmanageable levels of contamination.

"We believe that the collective need to raise recovery rates must also incorporate a strong focus on quality as this is one of the greatest threats faced by the recycling industry," Pope said. "Contaminated materials contribute to unsafe working conditions, increased disposal costs and a reduction in the quality of end-market material. Overcoming this triple-threat is a key focus of our educational efforts and is one that needs to be front and center with the public, municipalities and recyclers alike.”

Harrison will share the Resource Recycling Conference stage this morning with Ron Gonen of the Closed Loop Fund, another major public-private venture. Gonen's project will aim to distribute $100 million in zero-interest loans from major corporations to cities around the country.


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APR releases model bale specs

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 19:05
APR releases model bale specs

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 17, 2014

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers unveiled first-of-its-kind specifications for model polypropylene bales.

Noting the continued penetration of polypropylene into the market, APR moved to identify the ideal makeup of PP bales to better guide the industry. APR first announced the new specs in a press release and during a presentation at the 2014 Resource Recycling Conference in New Orleans.

"This is a big step forward in plastics recycling," Steve Alexander, APR’s executive director, said in the release. "The effort to expand the recycling of containers beyond PET and HDPE has evolved to the point where polypropylene PCR is rapidly approaching critical mass. As the industry that recycles plastic, it is important to help the marketplace understand what constitutes the most optimal bale composition for the material.”

During the presentation Alexander laid out the details of the new specs. Total contamination, he noted, "should not exceed 8 percent by weight." By contaminant, metal, paper/cardboard, liquid, HDPE and all other plastic packaging should not exceed 2 percent by weight.

As for contaminants that should be outlawed altogether, Alexander listed numerous prohibitives, including plastic bags, sheets and film, wood, glass, electronic scrap and products with degradable additives.

The bale size should be approximately 30-by-42-by-48-by-60 inches and allow for a minimum of 35,000 pounds of material to be shipped on a 48-foot trailer. Ideal polypropylene bale density is 15-20 pounds.

By providing a framework for MRF operators to rely on, APR is hoping to drive bale quality for polypropylene, especially as it continues to appear in more packaging and products.

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Sustainability luminaries talk large-scale recycling change

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 19:03
Sustainability luminaries talk large-scale recycling change

By Dan Leif, Resource Recycling

Sept. 17, 2014

Two of the sustainability world's most influential figures opened the Resource Recycling Conference Tuesday with presentations that gave attendees a dose of inspiration as well as a glimpse into global materials recovery initiatives that keep profitability top of mind.

In one of the most anticipated sessions of the 2014 conference, William McDonough and Rob Kaplan delivered illuminating insights into the recycling world today.

McDonough is an architect and author of the influential 2002 environmental manifesto "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things." Though much of his discussion in New Orleans this week has been centered on nitty-gritty recycling realities like resident outreach and program funding strategies, McDonough went interstellar in his address, pulling in an anecdote about his work with NASA to develop a space station for Mars exploration and breaking down Einstein's theory of relativity.

He also managed to discuss the discovery of DNA, a humanitarian collaboration with Brad Pitt and subpar packaging for kale chips.

It was all meant to help illustrate McDonough's point that the recycling industry — and all other sectors — should focus first on acting according to values and principles. Reduce, reuse and recycle is a powerful starting point, McDonough noted, but the industry needs to tack on another alliterative slogan: "redesign, renew and regenerate."

"It's the executive's job to do the right thing," he said. "We have to use commerce to make peace with the world."

Kaplan, meanwhile, explained how the world's largest retailer is trying to take some of the lofty ideals mentioned by McDonough and brings them into real-world practice.

Due to some technical snafus, the Walmart wunderkind had to improvise through the first several minutes of his presentation without his prepared slides, but he effectively moved forward and explained that Walmart has determined more than 90 percent of its environmental impact can be made through the supply chain.

Kaplan said the company has surveyed 100 suppliers in 150 categories and found that group consumes 8 billion pounds of plastic for packaging materials annually. Those supplying companies reported using an average of 30 percent post-consumer resin in their plastics but that they can grow that number by 16 percentage points in the next five years.

Kaplan said such improvements would equate to an extra 1 billion pounds of recycled plastic being consumed by suppliers in a half decade. And he added that through initiatives like the corporate-backed Closed Loop Fund, the retailer aims to help municipalities capitalize on effective materials recovery.

"We've turned our waste streams into profit centers," Kaplan said, "and cities can do that too."

As a whole, the session likely gave recycling advocates in the audience the feeling that they have the support of a pair of powerful minds.

"You're the people who deal with chaos everyday," said McDonough. "It comes in as an undefined system and you have to deal with it. … You have one of the hardest jobs in the world, but designers like me are here to help."

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Putting plastic film reclamation on a "Podium"

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 19:00
Putting plastic film reclamation on a "Podium"

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 17, 2014

An ongoing industry effort to boost plastic film recovery is launching a new outreach effort.

The American Chemistry Council's Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG), along with Emerge Knowledge, launched a campaign to enlist local governments in promoting and tracking their activities to increase the recycling of polyethylene (PE) film packaging. The debut of the program came at this week's Resource Recycling Conference in New Orleans [Ed: the publisher of this publication is also the organizer of the conference].

The Re-Trac Wrap Recycling Action Program (WRAP) offers local governments access to resource tools to boost or establish film recovery activities in their communities and is centered around plasticfilmrecycling.org. Also, local governments and communities also can be recognized as WRAP champions through a mapping feature on the Re-Trac system.

Additionally, communities will be able to show their progress in increasing film recovery through Re-Trac’s new Podium program.

WRAP is a new national outreach initiative to increase the recycling of PE bags, wraps and film. Organizers say that "it will provide a platform to motivate stakeholders to combine their resources and know-how to build a growing movement to increase plastic film recycling throughout the country." The program is an extension of a project initiated by the FFRG with the State of Wisconsin to facilitate broader recycling of plastic film beyond bags.

Local access to film drop-off programs is widespread throughout the U.S., with most collection centers located at around 18,000 grocery and retail stores. However, public awareness of film recycling and access remains very low. WRAP was formed to remove barriers and double America's film recycling to 2 billion pounds by 2020.


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Resource Recycling Conference 2015: Save the date

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 18:57
Resource Recycling Conference 2015: Save the date

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 17, 2014

Next year's premier gathering of North American recycling industry decision-makers is slated for Sept. 28-30, 2015 in Indianapolis.

Mark your calendars now to ensure you don't miss out on the high-level discussions, networking opportunities and educational sessions that are available only at the Resource Recycling Conference. The 2015 edition will be the sixth year of the annual conference.

Resource Recycling 2015 is taking place Sept. 28-30, 2015 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. Check in at rrconference.com for the latest on attending, sponsoring and exhibiting.

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NewsBits

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 18:45
NewsBits

Sept. 17, 2014

Keep America Beautiful (KAB) has officially opened registration for America Recycles Day event. With events in the works throughout the country for the big day, Nov. 15., KAB has launched an event website. You can visit it here.

Car maker Ford says it has achieved "landfill-free" status at a plant in Canada. According to a company press release, Ford's Oakville assembly line now sends no "operational waste" to landfill," making all of Ford's manufacturing hubs in Canada in line with that ever-elusive distinction.

Marion, Ohio's annual Popcorn Festival sent almost 5,000 pounds of bottles, cans and cardboard for recycling this year. That's the highest total on record for the event and, according to festival organizers, attendees this year were particularly good about not putting non-recyclables into the blue bins.


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Second annual Recycling Innovators Forum winners announced

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 16:36
Second annual Recycling Innovators Forum winners announced

By Bobby Elliott and Dan Leif, Resource Recycling

Sept. 15, 2014

After hearing presentations from eight finalists, judges at the second annual Recycling Innovators Forum awarded a pair of $20,000 prizes — one to a group that pushes plastics recycling at hospitals and the other to a startup that uses recovered glass in roadways.

The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) was announced as the enterprise/institution winner. The organization aims to build stakeholder coordination around recovering and recycling plastic material from hospitals.

The garage innovator category, meanwhile, was won by Ruby Lake Glass LLC, a firm that color-coats pulverized recovered glass and uses it in a variety of applications, including bus and bike lane demarcation.

The Recycling Innovators Forum was co-located with the 2014 Resource Recycling Conference in New Orleans. The Forum was sponsored by Alcoa, Waste Management, Coca-Cola Recycling, American Chemistry Council's Plastics Division and Resource Recycling, the parent company of Resource Recycling magazine.

Photos of the event can be found here.

"We've always felt like we had a great idea, but it was a challenge to get the word out," said Jonathan Gross, managing member at Ruby Lake Glass. "And the Recycling Innovators Forum has provided a very powerful platform for us to spread the word about our company specifically and the benefits of recycling broadly."

Peylina Chu, senior consultant at environmental consultancy Antea Group, gave the HPRC presentation. She said the $20,000 awarded to the group will be used to help hospitals move forward implementing plastics recycling programs and to educate recycling firms and groups as they look to process more of the material.

"This can be a model for how to build a health care recycling program in any major metropolitan area," Chu said. "Winning today is a validation that this is an opportunity the recycling industry is starting to see and understand."

HPRC is a private technical coalition of industry peers across health care, recycling and waste management industries seeking to improve recyclability of plastic products and packaging within health care. HPRC is made up of 10 industry entities: Baxter, BD, Cardinal Health, Covidien, DuPont, Eastman Chemical Company, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Perfecseal, Inc. and SABIC.

The Recycling Innovators Forum launched in 2013 with the goal of supporting actionable recycling projects through seed funding. The forum awarded one $20,000 prize last year to Earth911 for a tech-focused approach to educating consumers on the recyclability of product packaging.

After more than 60 proposals were submitted for consideration this year, event organizers narrowed down the pack to eight finalists, divided into two categories: enterprise/institution (for submissions from an established group or firm) and garage innovator (for proposals coming from a single entrepreneur or startup).

In today's final round, individuals behind the eight finalist concepts presented in front of an audience of venture capitalists, market development experts, state recycling officials and other recycling industry members.

Winners were announced during a reception following the presentations.

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Education, innovation mark start to Resource Recycling Conference 2014

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:54
Education, innovation mark start to Resource Recycling Conference 2014

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 16, 2014

The fifth annual Resource Recycling Conference has kicked off in the Big Easy.

Located at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, this year's conference in bringing together nearly 500 recycling professionals and leaders from 39 states, five Canadian provinces and seven countries.

During events on Monday, $20,000 awards from the second annual Recycling Innovators Forum went to the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council and Ruby Lake Glass LLC for their potentially game-changing recycling ideas. A slew of ancillary meetings and industry trainings also took place.

On Tuesday, conference action begins at 8:30 a.m. Central Time with a plenary session featuring sustainability guru and author William McDonough and Rob Kaplan, Walmart's sustainability leader. The co-keynotes will discuss how to push forward powerful recycling and sustainability initiatives on a national or global scale.

Another session Tuesday morning will focus on current recycling markets for paper, plastic and aluminum. Afternoon sessions are set to cover the changing plastics recycling landscape, community outreach and just-below-the-surface trends that are having a real and measurable impact on the industry.

Look out for a follow-up tomorrow morning on the day's events and headlines.

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Indianapolis sued over trash-sorting MRF

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:49
Indianapolis sued over trash-sorting MRF

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Sept. 16, 2014

The City of Indianapolis has been hit with a lawsuit for reworking a city contract and giving the go-ahead to a controversial MRF without seeking alternatives beforehand.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 5 by paper companies Graphic Packaging International Inc. and Rock-Tenn Converting Co., as well as a private citizen, charges that the Indianapolis Board of Public Works made its decision "without following the proper procedures designed to assure that the contract most beneficial to the public is entered into and that an open and public process is utilized."

In addition, the lawsuit asserts that the deal "will degrade the recycling stream, harming both the public and the plaintiff companies that rely on recycled waste, and actually creates a disincentive for the City to promote clean recycling."

This summer the City altered its current contract with waste-to-energy (WTE) firm Covanta and allowed the company to build a $45 million mixed waste processing center next door to its WTE plant. Recycling advocates and environmentalists at the time largely opposed the MRF, and they called on Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard to consider other recycling options.

Plaintiffs are urging the Marion County Superior Court to require the City to open up the floor for more proposals.

While the Indiana Recycling Coalition (IRC) is being careful not to "speak for the plaintiffs," a statement from the group supports the notion of having the Ballard administration reconsider its decision.

"The IRC is relieved to learn that the courts are being asked to require the City of Indianapolis to go through a public process (as the plaintiffs believe is required by Indiana Code) for this significant long term City contract," Carey Hamilton, the group's executive director, said in a statement. "The IRC believes a competitive process would result in a waste disposal and recycling contract that would be much better for taxpayers, for recycling and for job creation."

IRC has long held that Indianapolis is doing its citizens a disfavor by opting for the Covanta facility and contract renewal.

The City and Covanta, meanwhile, appear to be going ahead with plans as ironed out in their new contract. The City expressed confidence in a statement sent to Resource Recycling.

"We are perfectly within our legal right to amend our contract with Covanta," City of Indianapolis spokesperson Stephanie Wilson said. "The City’s Office of Corporation Counsel will file a legal brief with the court, and that will provide more information."

James Regan, Covanta's spokesperson, confirmed the company is "in the permitting process" to build the new MRF.

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Report: EPR efforts in Canada hampered by lack of specific goals

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:47
Report: EPR efforts in Canada hampered by lack of specific goals

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 16, 2014

For the third year in a row, an EPR advocacy group out of Canada has written a province-by-province assessment on product stewardship efforts.

And while the latest report from EPR Canada notes "industry funded and operated recycling programs are growing in numbers," the group sees a problem with way laws are being crafted: At present, much of the legislation is leaving out material-specific targets.

"Specific recovery targets for individual material types such as printers in electronics recycling or aseptic containers, e.g., drinking boxes, in packaging would lead to industry sharpening their recycling policies and plans and striving harder to keep more secondary resources out of our landfills," Duncan Bury, EPR Canada's founder, said in a release.

Without those product-specific targets, producers can't be held to their commitments, the group argues.

"The consequence is that some industry sectors are not being held to recovery standards and perhaps are not as driven to recover their products and packaging for recycling as they would be if they had to comply with a specific material category recovery target," Bury stated.

The province-by-province rundown offers an extensive chronicle of 2013 efforts and, at least on paper, provinces appeared to all engage in discussions surrounding introducing, expanding and implementing EPR programs for a wide range of materials, from PPP to mercury-containing products.

Next fall EPR Canada will release yet another report, which will include letter grades for each province. The group says it held off on registering grades this time around in recognition "that the development of EPR policies and programs takes time."

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Wide world of recycling

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:43
Wide world of recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 16, 2014

Our global rundown offers details on a $30 million PET recycling operation in South Africa, efforts in Nepal to drive recycling among mountaineers and research that could help chart the movement of marine debris.

South African paper and plastic packaging giant Mpact recently announced it is putting more than $30 million behind a PET processing operation in its home country. The facility will handle more than 29,000 tons of material annually.

The BBC recently reported on efforts from officials in Nepal to encourage recycling among mountaineers who head toward Himalayan peaks. It's estimated that 50 tons of waste material currently sits on the slopes of Mount Everest.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia have created an algorithm that can help identify where marine debris generated in different nations ultimately ends up in the world's oceans. The mathematical model takes into account the intricacies of ocean currents and other factors.

The website for the Guardian offers details on Britain's first house made completely from reused materials such as video cassettes, blue jeans, toothbrushes and carpet.

U.K. consumers will be exposed to more messaging encouraging the recycling of plastic thanks to a just-launched initiative called Pledge 4 Plastics. The effort is supported by the U.K. government as well as packaging giants such as Coca-Cola and Unilever, and it aims to help the nation stay on line with government-established plastics recycling targets over the next several years.

That campaign comes in the wake of initial findings from a U.K. government study that found the nation is doing better than expected on working toward its plastics recycling goals. The U.K. has a plastic packaging recycling rate target of 57 percent by 2017.


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Resource Recycling Conference 2015: Save the date

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:37
Resource Recycling Conference 2015: Save the date

Sept. 16, 2014

Next year's premier gathering of North American recycling industry decision-makers is slated for Sept. 28-30, 2015 in Indianapolis.

Mark your calendars now to ensure you don't miss out on the high-level discussions, networking opportunities and educational sessions that are available only at the Resource Recycling Conference. The 2015 edition will be the sixth year of the annual conference.

Resource Recycling Conference 2015 is taking place Sept. 28-30, 2015 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. Check in at rrconference.com for the latest on attending, sponsoring and exhibiting.

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NewsBits

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 11:19
NewsBits

Sept. 16, 2014

Beverage producers certainly do not want Massachusetts to expand its container deposit law. The Washington-based American Beverage Association has pumped $5 million into opposing the November ballot measure. This represents more than 90 percent of the funds garnered to beat the initiative. In comparison, proponents of adding containers to the system have raised $265,000, with the state chapter of the Sierra Club being the largest contributor at $144,000.

The data crunching site FiveThirtyEight recently published a compelling investigation of San Francisco's often cited 80 percent recycling rate. In the story, writer Carl Bialik points out that in 2013 the city actually sent more trash to landfill than it did in 2012, and he explains why achieving true zero waste may be beyond the capability of any modern municipality.

Seattle is considering instituting a system to levy fines on residents who do not properly divert material. Residents would be subject to a $1 charge each time they fail to separate compostable material, while businesses and multifamily buildings would have to pay $50 per offense after two warnings.

The National Waste & Recycling Association reports industry employment hit another all-time high in August. During that month, 382,500 individuals were employed in waste and recycling positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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St. Paul eyes 2015 RFP before expanding program

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 13:01
St. Paul eyes 2015 RFP before expanding program

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Sept. 10, 2014

The City of St. Paul, Minnesota has postponed plans to upgrade its residential recycling program until it reviews bids for a new recycling contract next year.

The City, which has been serviced by Minneapolis-based Eureka Recycling since 2001, had planned to replace bins with carts in 2015, but the cost of the move, which would also require a switch from curbside to alleyway pickup, has led the mayor's office to hold off on those plans for now.

"We need to make sure we get the program that we want at a competitive price," Annie Hunt, environmental advisor to St. Paul's mayor, told Resource Recycling.

According to Hunt, the City has been approached by Eureka on several different occasions to negotiate a contract extension before the 2015 RFP. With Eureka's contract set to expire at the end of 2016, the company is hoping to receive some kind of extension guaranteeing the longtime partnership will continue.

"One of the things the city had said that it wanted to do — and it's a significant change to the program — was to move collections from curbside collection to alley collection," said Eureka's co-president, Tim Brownell. "For Eureka to be able to make that switch we would need to purchase a new fleet of trucks … and the challenge is to try to affordably be able to do that when we have less than two years remaining on our contract."

By securing a three-year extension through 2019, Eureka would be able to purchase a new fleet of trucks while the city would purchase the carts on its own, Brownell said.

Reports have varied widely on the kind of offers Eureka has submitted, however, and Hunt said the City has been advised by its legal advisor to see the RFP through before making any commitments.

Eureka's last offer, Hunt added, called for an annual 5 percent hike in residential recycling fees after initial offers suggested a far higher increase.

Brownell, meanwhile, contends that as long as the company is awarded a three-year contract extension through 2019, residents won't see their annual fee increase at all.

"We could do it for no service increase at all if we were to extend the terms of the contract," Brownell said.

Hunt said the residential recycling fee comes out to an average of $52 per single-family household annually, while Brownell offered a lower number: $43 annually.

Eureka went forward with switching to single-stream service this year, but it is still collecting material curbside in bins. The firm also has begun accepting more plastics, including containers with Nos. 4, 5 and 7 resin codes.

Once the city makes the switch to carts — a move both Hunt and Brownell noted would likely increase collection and recycling in the city — a food scrap collection program would likely be next on the agenda to improve St. Paul's diversion efforts.

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