Resource Recycling Magazine

Updated: 2 hours 33 min ago

Phoenix Technologies adds washing operation

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 12:21
Phoenix Technologies adds washing operation

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

May 19, 2015

Bowling Green, Ohio-based Phoenix Technologies has invested $18 million to wash and clean PET flake on its own.

"We think it will give us a little bit more control over the quality consistency of the raw material," Lori Carson, Phoenix's director of commercial operations, said in an extended interview with Resource Recycling. "As the market gets more demanding, which it certainly is when it comes to making your material as close to virgin as you can, it appears to be the right time for us to control the starting process."

Phoenix, which is one of the largest rPET producers in the country, has traditionally sourced clean flake to feed its Bowling Green, Ohio headquarters.

The company's multimillion dollar washing line, which will be active by the end of 2015 and located near the company's headquarters, will receive and clean bales of PET bottles and containers. Curbside-generated material will make up 95 percent of supply, Carson said. That curbside material is generally sourced within "a 10 hour radius" of the company, she added.

Once cleaned, PET flake that's been through the washing operation will be sent to the company's main rPET manufacturing plant, which will also continue to purchase some clean flake from outside suppliers.

The company has the ability to process about 85 million pounds of PET per year, the majority of which will be cleaned first by the company.

Carson said the percentage of PET found within a typical bale accepted by Phoenix is "somewhere in the mid-60s." She added, "We know some bales will be worse, and we hope that some bales will be better."

She also said the company continues to work with suppliers to improve bale quality and looks to the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) and the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) for continued guidance on the issue.

The widely reported impact of low oil prices on the plastics recycling industry has had an effect on Phoenix, Carson said. "The last eight months have been a little challenging," Carson said. "And we're making plans as if the market is going to stay the same as it is right now. For us, the question is: How can impact our process and our economics to allow us to be as competitive as possible right now?"

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Paper recovery rate rises above 65 percent

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:21
Paper recovery rate rises above 65 percent

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

May 19, 2015

The U.S. paper recovery rate edged up slightly in 2014, according to data from an industry group.

According to the annual tally from the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), the U.S. paper recovery rate grew to 65.4 percent in 2014. That's 1.9 percentage points above 2013's rate of 63.5.

The paper industry has a goal of reaching 70 percent by 2020.

"AF&PA is continuously working toward recovering more than 70 percent of paper consumed in the U.S. by 2020 by building on the same effective and efficient voluntary, market-based programs that have succeeded to date," Brian Hawkinson, AF&PA's executive director of recovered fiber, told Resource Recycling.

Hawkinson singled out "paperboard and corrugated packaging from homes and printing-writing papers from offices and schools" as potential sources of more recoverable material. He also noted the recovery amount includes "all recovered paper and paperboard except mill broke."

Mill broke is paper waste generated before the completion of the papermaking process. Excess paper waste created once the process is completed is counted in the AF&PA recovery data.

The industry's mission to achieve higher recovery rates comes as the amount of paper generated each year continues to fall. In 2014, 78.21 million tons of paper were generated, below 2013's total of 78.95 million tons and more than 27 million tons off of the 1999 high of 105.32 million tons.

A major factor in the decline, AF&PA numbers show, is falling use of newsprint. As more and more print periodicals and newspapers have gone digital, newsprint generation has gone from a high of 11.12 million tons in 2006 to a low of 5.44 million tons in 2014. The newsprint recovery rate was 68.9 percent last year.

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How three bottle bill proposals are playing out

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:20
How three bottle bill proposals are playing out

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

May 19, 2015

A Maine bill removing large beverage containers from the deposit program has died, while a Michigan bill that would add containers lives on. In Hawaii, meanwhile, an effort to completely eliminate the bottle bill failed. Read more in our update of bottle bill-related legislation.

Maine

Legislative Document 1204 would have removed containers 32 ounces and larger from the Pine Tree State's deposit program starting Dec. 1, 2016. But the bill has lost traction.

A legislative committee voted unanimously on May 11 to reject the bill. Under the legislature's rules, that means the bill can only be revived with a two-thirds vote of both chambers.

Under Maine's program, consumer pay a 15-cent deposit for wine and liquor containers and a 5-cent deposit for all others.

The bill would have also created a Maine Recycling Fund, which would have been supported by a new half-cent-per-container fee manufacturers and distributors would pay. The fee, collected for six years, would generate about $300,000 to $400,000 per year. The fund would distribute grants and low-interest loans to support recycling efforts.

Michigan

Senate Bill 199 would expand the state's 36-year-old bottle bill to include bottled water and other beverages.

Michigan's law places a 10-cent deposit on soda, carbonated waters, beer, ale, malts, mixed-wine drinks and mixed-spirit drinks.

The bill would expand the covered containers to include non-carbonated water and any other beverage meant for human consumption in containers of one gallon or less (excluded are unflavored rice and soy milks, milk or other dairy-derived products). The bill is also written to exclude cartons.

The bill, from Democratic state Sen. Rebekah Warren, is currently in the Senate's Natural Resources Committee.

Hawaii

The Aloha State's HB 167 would have completely eliminated the "HI-5" Deposit Beverage Container Program, a 10-year-old program that adds a 5-cent deposit on beverage containers up to 68 ounces in size. Sponsored by two Democratic representatives, the repealing bill died in committee.

Another bill, Senate Bill 1260, would implement changes to the glass container program recommended by the state auditor. Hawaii law requires consumers pay an advance disposal fee on each glass container not covered by the state's bottle bill. That bill also did not pass.

The glass bill, among other things, would require the state to expand the allowed uses for recycled glass, including using it as alternative daily cover in landfills. As passed by the House of Representatives, the law would go into effect on July 1, 2030. The Senate failed to approve it before the legislature adjourned May 7.

It was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Russell Ruderman.

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Video pushes streamlined vocab in plastics recycling

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:19
Video pushes streamlined vocab in plastics recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

May 19, 2015

Recycling professionals and communities nationwide are being encouraged to use a lingua franca when it comes to plastics recycling.

An animated video backed by the American Chemistry Council builds on last year's introduction of the Plastics Recycling Terms & Tools, a set of consistent terms and resources recycling programs can use when communicating with the public.

For example, instead of telling consumers to recycle plastics No. 1-7, the terms recommend telling them to recycle "plastic bottles and containers," with the option of providing a more detailed explanation.

"The terms in use today are, at best, inconsistent and often contradictory, which negatively impacts the ability to communicate what plastics are accepted for recycling," a Plastics Recycling Outreach Terms document states. "A set of common outreach terms (a glossary or lexicon) and royalty-free images helps communities communicate more effectively to residents."

The terms and tools project also includes software to help programs create their own outreach flyers.

Moore Recycling Associates oversees the terms and tools, which are sponsored by the American Chemistry Council's Plastics Division. They were created with guidance from an advisory committee with representatives from multiple recycling stakeholders.

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ISRI: More exports, more jobs

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:18
ISRI: More exports, more jobs

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

May 19, 2015

Research funded by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries points to scrap recycling exports as a domestic job creator.

According to findings by consultants John Dunham and Associates, the export of U.S.-generated scrap materials supports more than 125,000 U.S. jobs. Nearly 28 percent of scrap processed in the U.S. gets exported, the study determined.

"Exporting to more than 160 countries, scrap recyclers play a critical role in helping the U.S. balance of trade," Robin Wiener, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) president, stated.

ISRI has been a vocal supporter of exports, advocating for the resolution of the West Coast port dispute in February and opposing national legislation that would limit shipments of recovered electronic materials to foreign markets.

The group says exports don't cannibalize domestic recycling. According to Wiener, the scrap recycling industry in the U.S. "continues to produce enough supply for domestic manufacturers now and far into the future."

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Resource Recycling Conference 2015: Grasping the global industry

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:17
Resource Recycling Conference 2015: Grasping the global industry

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

May 19, 2015

The upcoming Resource Recycling Conference will start with a fascinating look at how the interconnected pieces of materials recovery come together in a keynote address from Adam Minter, award-winning Bloomberg journalist and author of the book "Junkyard Planet."

Minter comes from a family of Midwest scrap yard owners and now lives in Southeast Asia, where he covers the evolving waste management sphere there and elsewhere across the world. His understanding of the specific conditions surrounding recycling in the U.S. as well as in the multitude of markets where materials end up put him in a unique position to offer a truly objective and holistic view of the industry. His talk will enlighten all recycling pros on current global realities and how specific impacts are felt all the way back to curbside.

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


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Novelis continues to ramp up use of recycled content

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:15
Novelis continues to ramp up use of recycled content

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

May 19, 2015

Products made by aluminum giant Novelis contained an average of 49 percent recycled content during the company's 2015 fiscal year.

Novelis' use of recycled content during its FY 2015 (April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015) "drove cost benefits through expanded recycling operations globally," the company stated in announcing financial results. During the fourth quarter, Novelis' products on average contained an all-time high of 53 percent recycled content.

The company's line of evercycle products, introduced during the 2015 fiscal year, offers food containers made from 100 percent recycled material and cans featuring at least 90 percent recycled content.

According to the company's annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, 11 of 25 facilities worldwide currently have recycling operations in place.

Overall company revenues for the year rose roughly 14 percent, reaching more than $11 billion.

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NewsBits from Resource Recycling

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 10:14
NewsBits

May 19, 2015

Old hybrid car batteries are being used to store energy from solar panels to power a ranch in Yellowstone National Park. Five buildings at the park's Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus in northern Wyoming are powered by the system, which uses a collection of solar panels and 208 reused nickel-metal hydride battery packs from Toyota Camry hybrids.

California Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget boosts funding for a program to spur investments in composting and anaerobic digestion infrastructure and to encourage recycled content manufacturing. The May revised budget increases funding to $60 million for these efforts, up from $25 million last year, according to advocacy group Californians Against Waste.

Students in a tiny, one-room school in Cody, Wyo. each collected more than 2,200 pounds of aluminum cans, giving their school the win in the 2014-15 Great American Can Roundup School Challenge. Valley Elementary School, which recycled 11,035 pounds of aluminum beverage cans, will receive prize money totaling $6,000. Schools from 36 states participating in the competition, which is sponsored by the Can Manufacturers Institute.

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Recycling Partnership hires former Coke exec

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 11:49
Recycling Partnership hires former Coke exec

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

May 12, 2015

The Recycling Partnership has hired a former Coca-Cola sustainability executive to lead its funding efforts.

Jeff Meyers, who until last month was the manager of sustainable packaging at the beverage giant, will serve as the Recycling Partnership's first development director. The hire was announced May 8.

Last month, the Recycling Partnership rebranded after years of work as the Curbside Value Partnership.  In addition to its ongoing work with numerous communities in the U.S., the Recycling Partnership has begun assisting three additional cities in 2015 to provide education and outreach-based content.  

The Recycling Partnership's executive director, Keefe Harrison, stressed in the announcement of the Meyers hiring that his "leadership will accelerate the Recycling Partnership and take us to the next level of performance and scale."

As development director, Meyers says he will focus primarily on attracting new funders to the group.

"We want to bring in more brands, we want to bring in some retailers and there are other groups that want to partner with us that can bring additional resources to the table," Meyers said in an interview. "It's time to look for innovative ways to raise some funds and that's what I'm going to be focusing a good bit of my time on."

Meyers noted the "action-oriented" nature of the group's grant-based work with cities, especially those looking for seed funding to switch from bins to carts, makes the group an attractive investment for potential partners.

"We're already seeing cities be transformed by this," Meyers said. "It lets companies stand for something."

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More recycling cuts on the way for Wisconsin

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 11:48
More recycling cuts on the way for Wisconsin

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

May 12, 2015

Wisconsin appears close to approving a 20 percent funding cut to local recycling programs.

The cut, agreed to on May 5 by the Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee as part of its larger budget review, will reduce the state's 2015-2016 fiscal year recycling program budget from $20 million to $16 million. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) uses the funding to award grants to numerous local recycling programs throughout the state.

The budget must be approved by the Assembly and Senate, and signed by its author, Gov. Scott Walker. Under the budget, funding would return to $20 million for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

According to Meleesa Johnson, president of Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin, funding has always been provided as a "cost-sharing" mechanism of the state.

That funding has been cut "incrementally" in recent years, Johnson said, despite the fact that a $7 per ton disposal fee in Wisconsin continues to generate between $33 million to $36 million annually to put toward recycling and waste reduction programs.

"We see less and less of it every year going for recycling, waste reduction and advancements in solid waste management," Johnson said. "We're really very frustrated."

Funding for the state recycling program has fallen each year since the 2008-2009 fiscal year, when the budget reached $28 million.

The $4 million cut for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Johnson says, is being allocated instead to "debt service" related to state-funded wastewater treatment operations.

A spokesperson for Gov. Walker told Resource Recycling the proposed cut is a "one-time reduction" and that funds would be restored to the "base level" of $20 million in 2016-2017.

A paper submitted to legislators by the nonpartisan Fiscal Bureau, which primarily provides budgetary analysis to lawmakers, indicates eroding funding to recycling programs has left local programs with more costs to cover on their own.

In 2006, when the state allocated $26.3 million to local programs, 28 percent of costs were recovered, the paper states. In 2013-2014, funding of $20 million covered approximately 17.5 percent of the costs associated with local government recycling programs.

Madison's recycling coordinator George Dreckmann told Resource Recycling he doesn't anticipate Madison will see "any specific changes" to its programs but expects other programs could feel financial impacts.

"It will, I'm sure, have an effect," Dreckmann, a longtime industry veteran, said. "In some communities the state aid is used to subsidize fees that are paid to haulers. With that money gone, it will be made up for with increased fees for the public."

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Tech firm hopes MRFs are ready to do the robot

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 11:47
Tech firm hopes MRFs are ready to do the robot

By Jared Paben, Resource Recycling

May 12, 2015

Federally funded research into using robots to replace humans on MRF sorting lines could significantly lower materials sorting costs.

"We'd like to reduce the cost of recycling and make it a little more cost-competitive with the cost of landfilling across the country," Matanya Horowitz of AMP Robotics told Resource Recycling.

The National Science Foundation awarded the Boulder, Colo. startup a $150,000 grant to support the research. The funding flowed through the Small Business Innovation Research program, which provides seed funding for projects that meet national priorities but are still considered too risky to attract money from venture capitalists, Horowitz said.

Recycling robots already exist, relying on a variety of sensors and mechanical hands to snag objects off conveyor belts and deposit them in bins.

AMP's research, however, is focused not so much on the hands of robots but on their brains.

Keeping MRFs in mind

AMP is focusing on improvements to the ability of a computer to learn how to recognize objects based on their appearance, including their size, shape, color and texture, using both visible and infrared light, Horowitz said. The machine learns how to recognize objects primarily by "seeing" thousands or millions of photos of them.

"In controlled situations like the one we have here, basically, if a person can tell what the object is, then a machine can tell what the object is," he said.

The company is also working to design small, easy-to-install systems that won't require re-engineering a MRF. They're designing systems with the same footprints as humans at sorting stations, he said.

The goal is to offer a simple system costing 30 percent less than a human worker, when costs are spread over three years, he said. "Those numbers are something we're very comfortable with," he said.

One industry expert said AMP isn't sailing utterly uncharted waters.

Kerry Sandford, an equipment expert and co-founder of consulting firm Resource Recycling Systems, said computers already possess the ability to recognize objects based on appearance. And robots are currently used in the packaging industry to sort materials, although, in that industry, the materials are more predictable and have a higher value than typical recyclables.

Several companies have announced efforts to develop robots for sortation, but only Bollegraaf Recycling Solutions has implemented them, introducing them to European MRFs, Sandford said. Bollegraff's website shows it employs robots in a quality-control function focusing on fibers in single-stream MRFs, reducing labor costs.

"My inclination is to be somewhat skeptical because of all of the other ones I've seen not make it," he said.

A robot's role

A robotic arm can't match the speed of other sorting technologies, so the goal is to create a lower-throughput machine to work in tandem with sorting devices by filling the role humans currently occupy, Horowitz said.

A robot could work longer hours than humans without the risk of injury, he said.

Sandford believes robotic sorting will play a role in the recycling system at some point. The key will be increasing sorting speeds, decreasing costs and incorporating robots appropriately into the system, he said.

"I think it will be one of those pieces that gets added in as its role is figured out," he said.

Unlike a human, a robot could tell the difference between various resins. Yet unlike an optical sorter, it could effectively sort multiple materials from one conveyor, he said.

Sandford added robotic technologies could be well suited to areas with challenging environments, such as dusty C&D facilities.

Primarily a software company, AMP has built a simple prototype, called "The Pusher," that has a 95 percent accuracy rate sorting five types of C&D debris with the belt moving at 80-100 feet per minute, Horowitz said. The company is working to boost sorting speeds as well as delve into MSW materials.

AMP is also currently working on a more advanced prototype, which is expected to be operational in about three months.

If all goes according to plan, in 2016 AMP will start testing and shooting video of the robots operating in MRFs.

"We want to make a product that's not a lab curiosity," Horowitz said. "We want to make something that will run 24/7 for years."

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<i>Resource Recycling Conference 2015</i>: The tools to boost your local program

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 11:46
Resource Recycling Conference 2015: The tools to boost your local program

May 12, 2015

Are you charged with managing and growing a municipal recycling system? Be sure to head to Indianapolis in late September for the industry's top municipal recycling conference, which will be loaded with sessions and workshops aimed at optimizing local programs.

The Recycling Partnership will be on hand offering valuable training via an ancillary event that is free to conference attendees. In addition, a conference session is set to feature some of the industry's top minds discussing on-the-ground strategies to curb contamination.

Switching from bins to carts. Developing effective outreach communication. The latest in state and local recycling data collection. All this and more will be investigated in-depth in Indianapolis. Make sure you are part of the conversation.

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

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How I Spent My Grant: Equipment, efficiency brought to mattress recycling effort

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 11:46
How I Spent My Grant: Equipment, efficiency brought to mattress recycling effort

By Eric Heyboer, recycling grant program administrator, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

May 11, 2015

Here's the latest installment of "How I Spent My Grant," the feature that takes a look at the ways recycling programs translate funding into actionable ideas.

Organization: Spring Back Colorado

Grant: $77,200 from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

The story: In early 2012, Christopher Conway heard about a team of college students at Tennessee's Belmont University that created a pilot program called Spring Back Recycling, which gives those with a criminal conviction a fresh start by offering them employment in mattress recycling.

Conway, who had spent time volunteering at Denver Rescue Mission, believed the students were on to something. Using mattress recycling as a vehicle for redemptive employment opportunities could prove to be a sound business model.

“When I learned about Spring Back, how they developed a sustainable, environmentally conscious business that provides a social benefit, I knew I discovered my purpose,” explained Conway. “I found a way to help break the cycle of being put in prison, getting out, being unemployable.”

In August 2012, he opened a for-profit Spring Back facility in Denver, and the operation grew quickly, processing 50 mattresses and box springs in its first month. Less than one year later, that number grew to 650 a month. To keep up with growing demand, the business needed to improve the efficiency of its operations. “We didn’t have the properly functioning equipment to efficiently process the mattresses and bring our business to the next level,” Conway said.

In July 2013, Spring Back Colorado secured a $77,200 Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity (RREO) grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The grant provided the infusion of funds needed to purchase critical equipment – appropriate baler machines, an upgraded forklift, a truck to pick up mattresses, ventilation fans, scales and pallets. The new equipment had a huge impact on processing output. During the twelve-month grant cycle, Spring Back Colorado went from processing 650 mattresses per month to 1,500 per month.

During the grant cycle, Spring Back diverted more than 693 tons of mattress waste away from local landfills and found secondary markets for 87 percent of collected mattress and box spring material. Just as significant, the grant spurred enough growth to create three additional full time jobs, offering employment to a total of seven disenfranchised individuals.

Shortly after the grant period, the business moved to a warehouse that almost doubled its storage and processing areas.

"The RREO grant was a real catalyst for our growth and for operating at peak efficiency," Conway said. "It's given us the proper machinery to really build a high-volume, sustainable business aimed at reducing the waste stream."

Know of a program, company or group that should be highlighted in How I Spent My Grant? Email news@resource-recycling.com

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$300,000 awarded to KAB affiliates, partners

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 11:45
$300,000 awarded to KAB affiliates, partners

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

May 12, 2015

Affiliates and partners of Keep America Beautiful will receive a total of $300,000 to support cleanup and beautification efforts.

The grants were awarded by Waste Management's Think Green Grants program, which provided money to 39 organizations around the country.

“Through the support of Waste Management, Keep America Beautiful is able to provide our local affiliates and partner organizations with the resources to help people reduce waste and litter, recycle right, and protect the natural areas in which we live,” Jennifer Jehn, KAB president and CEO, stated in a press release.

Waste Management and Keep America Beautiful began collaborating on the community-based grant initiatives in 2007. Since then, they've awarded more than $1.3 million in grant money.

Last year, they awarded a total of $80,000, and during each of the previous two years they provided $100,000.

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NewsBits

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 11:44
NewsBits

May 11, 2015

Residents of Medina County, Ohio will soon see 54 recycling drop-off locations established around the county, leaving its longstanding and controversial mixed waste processing center idle – for the time being. County leaders will vote soon to select the winning bidder for the collection of the dropped off material while also deciding the fate of the mixed waste operation.

TerraCycle, the New Jersey-based organization that sets up infrastructure for difficult-to-recycle items, is taking on single-serve coffee pods. Through its "Zero Waste Box" program, TerraCycle takes back coffee capsules from businesses and communities for a fee and recycles them.

Homes in St. Petersburg, Fla. have started receiving 95-gallon carts in advance of the launch of the city's curbside collection program. St. Petersburg's City Council in November unanimously approved the addition of carts and trucks for a reported $6.1 million.

England is still struggling to boost its recycling rate, new figures indicate. For the third quarter of 2014, the country's recycling rate for both dry and organic materials was 47 percent. That's about the same rate logged during the third quarter in each of the previous two years.

A bill in the North Carolina House of Representative that would formally allow communities to charge for recycling and disposal services has led to heated debate and some confusion. While many communities already charge residents for recycling and trash collection, a group of politicians raised concerns that the bill would unfairly penalize poor North Carolinians while others questioned its overall clarity. The bill, as a result, was removed from the House floor.

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Industry and supplier news

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 11:43
Industry and supplier news

May 11, 2015

Shredder manufacturer Granutech-Saturn Systems has acquired a comprehensive line of industrial hammermills and ringmills formerly marketed under the Magnatech brand, the company announced. The acquisition allows the Dallas-based company to supply shredders for non-ferrous scrap metal. For more, click here.

Eugene, Ore.-based Bulk Handling Systems has hired Ted Pierpont as its director of sales, the company announced. Pierpont has more than two decades of sales leadership experience. For more, click here.

Cart manufacturer Toter has created a 35-gallon cart with a larger footprint and 10-inch wheels, boosting stability. For more, click here.

Equipment maker eFACTOR3 LLC has announced the addition of two partners: Pallmann Industries and Pla.to Technology. Pallman is a major manufacturer specializing in size reduction and preparation techniques, and Pla.to specializes in washing and drying lines. For more, click here.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has released two videos aimed at demonstrating the value and impact of recycling to the public. The videos are focused on plastics and tire recycling. For more, click here. ISRI has also elected three new directors to its board: Brian Henesey, Matthew Kripke and Michael Potash. The three are the new directors-at-large serving two-year terms ending in 2017. For more, click here.

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2015 Recycling Innovators Forum launches

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:44
2015 Recycling Innovators Forum launches

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

May 5, 2015

Hungry entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for improving the recycling industry will receive a helping hand this fall.

The 2015 Recycling Innovators Forum and is now accepting entries from people and organizations with actionable ideas to advance recycling. The deadline for submissions is June 1, 2015.

This fall's Forum marks the third year for the recycling innovation event.

Up to 10 finalists will receive travel and lodging scholarships to attend the Resource Recycling Conference, to be held Sept. 28-30 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The finalists will present their ideas to a panel of judges and an audience of industry decision-makers and investors at the Recycling Innovators Forum, held on Sept. 28 in conjunction with the conference. Judges will select a winner to receive a $20,000 prize to help move their innovation forward.

Resource Recycling magazine will also feature the winning ideas in online and print stories.

In 2014, one winner was Ruby Lake Glass LLC, a company that color-coats pulverized recovered glass and uses it in a variety of applications, including bus and bike lane demarcation. Another winner was the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council, which aims to build stakeholder coordination around recovering and recycling plastic material from hospitals.

The third-annual Recycling Innovators Forum is made possible thanks to major sponsorships from the American Chemistry Council's Plastics Division, Waste Management and Resource Recycling, Inc., with additional support from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers.

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UPSTREAM releases model bill for statewide EPR

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:44
UPSTREAM releases model bill for statewide EPR

By Dan Leif, Resource Recycling

May 5, 2015

A policy advocacy group says it has a plan for extended producer responsibility in the U.S. that stakeholders here may actually be willing to get behind.

Nonprofit organization UPSTREAM last week released model legislation aimed at state lawmakers looking to overhaul their recycling systems and mandate product and packaging companies to help foot the bill. Such models have been implemented for paper and packaging in Europe and parts of Canada but not in the U.S.

UPSTREAM representatives say their model bill addresses some of the issues that have been raised by U.S. companies and municipalities by leveraging a "shared responsibility" approach. Whereas EPR systems in other countries have tended to shift all funding responsibilities and program logistics decisions to the corporations producing paper and packaging, the latest UPSTREAM model would spread management roles across a group of stakeholders, including packaging makers, local governments, private haulers and end users of recycled material.

"Everyone wants the money and investment in the system," Matt Prindiville, UPSTREAM's associate director, said in an interview. "But there's been a lot of concern from local governments and others about turning over control to the brands."

Prindiville said UPSTREAM organized a six-month dialogue with a number of local government leaders to get their perspectives on the EPR issue, and he said a similar dialogue is currently under way with private waste and recycling entities.

The result is the model bill, which, if adopted by a state, would create a Sustainable Packaging Authority charged with achieving a 75 percent statewide recycling rate for household packaging by June 2021. The Authority would determine the fees producers would be required to pay into the system, and that body would also manage contracts for collection and processing as well as resident outreach and other program duties.

The stakeholders currently involved in those processes have long been resistant to supporting EPR, in part because they've often invested years and significant capital to get current recycling programs developed. They are hesitant to see complete system shifts that would direct decision-making and revenues to product companies.

Chaz Miller, director of policy and advocacy at the National Waste & Recycling Association, said the UPSTREAM model legislation probably would not uproot such reservations among his group's membership.

Miller noted the industry is starting to gear itself more toward sustainable materials management, an approach in which carbon emissions, reduced packaging and other components are all assessed to make decisions about the environmental impact of products. "Under SMM, we're determining that recycling may not always be the only answer," said Miller. "But this bill makes recycling the be-all and end-all."

Miller also questioned whether EPR is fair to taxpayers. In many areas of the country, recycling costs are built into tax structures. "Unless these systems come with a tax refund, you're essentially taxing people twice," he said. "You're still being taxed and now you're going to pay more for products as well."

Prindiville, however, noted if recycling systems are to get the funding they need to grow, brands need to pay a significantly larger share. "Some responsibility for packaging is only fair," he said. "Politically, it comes down to what is the ultimate financial exposure we think brands should have. That's a fight we're willing to have in legislatures around the country."

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Low commodity prices dent hauler revenues

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:43
Low commodity prices dent hauler revenues

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

May 5, 2015

First quarter results for America's largest publicly traded waste management companies indicate recycled commodity pricing is causing significant losses.

Comparing the first quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2014, recycling-related revenues for Progressive Waste Solutions, Republic Services, Waste Connections and Waste Management were down an average of 20.5 percent, an analysis by Resource Recycling has found.

Quarterly financial reports also show recycling revenues continue to account for a smaller percentage of overall revenues for the powerful quartet: During Q1 of 2015, recycling-related revenues accounted for just 4.4 percent of company revenues. (Quarterly results for Casella, the nation's other major publicly traded waste and recycling company, are not yet available.)

In financial reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by all four companies, low recycled commodity pricing is signaled as a major driver of the losses and a looming impediment for 2015 and beyond. Waste Management's CEO, David Steiner, called the situation around recycling an "imperfect storm."

Here are more notable financial results from the four hauling giants:

Progressive

During the first quarter of 2015 (Jan. 1 to March 31) Progressive Waste Solutions' overall revenues were down 2 percent and totaled $460.2 million.

A steep drop occurred in the recycling arm of the company.

Recycling revenues for the quarter totaled just over $12 million, but were down 26.2 percent compared with Q1 of 2014. As a percent of total revenues, Progressive's recycling business accounted for 2.6 percent of revenues, compared with 3.5 percent at this time last year.

In all segments of the company's U.S. operations, recycled commodity prices fell, Progressive's Q1 financial filing shows.

Progressive did not return a request for comment.

Republic

At Republic Services, company revenues during Q1 of 2015 outpaced revenues from Q1 of 2014. According to the company's quarterly filing, revenues neared $2.2 billion after nearing $2.1 billion last Q1. Up $92.2 million, quarterly revenues were not aided by sales of recycled commodities.

According to the company's Q1 filing, Republic made $85.7 million on the sales of recycled commodities, accounting for 4 percent of overall revenues and down 13 percent compared to Q1 of 2014. This was "due to the decline in commodity prices," the company states.

Darcie Brossart, Republic's spokesperson, said in an email recycling is still seen as "one of our core competencies."

"We remain committed to making recycling investments where there is customer demand for our service and we receive an adequate return on our investment," Brossart stated.

Waste Connections

Overall company revenues were also up for Waste Connections. In the company's Q1 report, Waste Connections reported quarterly revenues of $506.1 million, up 5.1 percent compared with last year.

Waste Connections' recycling business, however, was hurt by "lower than expected recycled commodity values."

The recycling business brought in about $10.9 million, accounting for 1.9 of overall revenues and down 24 percent compared with the first quarter of 2014.

Waste Connections did not return a request for comment.

Waste Management

Reporting on the first quarter of 2015, Waste Management (WM) generated revenues of just over $3 billion. Compared to the first quarter of 2014, WM revenues were down $356 million, or 10.5 percent.

In explaining the fall, WM's financial report notes recycled commodity prices as a significant factor. The company states that compared with Q1 of 2014, the average price it received for recycled commodities in Q1 of 2015 was down 14 percent and resulted in sales that were down $42 million. Revenues from WM's recycling business fell 18.7 percent and totaled $282 million, accounting for 9 percent overall revenues.

But it was comments made by WM's CEO David Steiner that caused the most stir in the industry.

"Recycling is in a crisis," Steiner said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "It isn’t profitable for us, and we have to react to that by shutting down plants."

In extended comments to Resource Recycling, Steiner noted contamination levels, high glass volumes and low commodity pricing have made for an "imperfect storm."

"We’re looking at our operations, ensuring they’re as efficient as possible and evaluating whether some rationalization and consolidation makes sense in some areas," Steiner said. "In other words, we are striving to keep our recycling operations afloat, rather than investing to create more recycling capacity."

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KAB offers ideas on boosting office recycling

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:42
KAB offers ideas on boosting office recycling

By Jared Paben, Resource Recycling

May 5, 2015

Offices will generate more recyclable materials and less contamination if each employee is given a large recycling bin and small garbage can, according to a study.

The study, titled "Recycling at Work: Research to Inform Improved Recycling in the Workplace," was commissioned by Keep America Beautiful (KAB) with support from PepsiCo Recycling and commercial real estate giant CBRE.

"It was important to do this because we see recycling in the workplace as a real potential opportunity to increase recycling," said Brenda Pulley, KAB's senior vice president of recycling.

Over six months in 2014, Action Research studied different recycling and garbage bin configurations in CBRE offices in Atlanta, Boston, Houston and San Diego. All offices had single-stream recycling collection.

The stakeholders tried the following configurations at each employee's desk:

  • Small trash can attached to a larger recycling bin
  • Equal-sized recycling and garbage cans
  • Only a recycling bin
  • Making no changes to the existing configuration but providing recycling information

The first configuration, with a small garbage and large recycling bin, showed the greatest success, according to the report. It yielded a higher percentage of recyclable materials and lower percentage of garbage in recycling bins as well as a lower percentage of recyclables in garbage cans.

Before the project, 79 percent of offices had some amount of paper in garbage cans, but the number dropped to almost zero during the experiment, the report stated.

"Our research clearly shows that by combining specific-sized trash and recycling receptacles, with simple signage and messaging, businesses and other organizations can increase employee participation and improve their rate of recycling of office-generated materials," Jennifer Jehn, KAB president and CEO, stated in a press release.

The "recycling-bin-only" option was unsuccessful and might have actually led employees to throw away recyclable materials they would have otherwise diverted, the report noted. It was unpopular for workers, and four offices dropped out of the survey after they were assigned this configuration, the report said.

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