Resource Recycling Magazine

Updated: 17 hours 55 min ago

Michigan tries to revamp recycling culture

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

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Resource Recycling Conference 2014: Heading to the Big Easy

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

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

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

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

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

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Beyond the flying footwear: Clinton touts recycling at ISRI

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

By Dylan de Thomas, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Earth Day brings flood of materials recovery efforts

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

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Steel demand to be pushed more by developed economies

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

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

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

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

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

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College recycling push diverts nearly 90 million pounds

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

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Full results can be viewed here.

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Wide world of recycling

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

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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NewsBits from Resource Recycling

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:34
NewsBits

April 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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Portland scales back commercial organics program

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:46
Portland scales back commercial organics program

By Bobby Elliott and Dan Leif, Resource Recycling

April 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

JC Biomethane has recently complained about processing problems, leading Metro to scale back the commercial organics effort.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Industry innovators vie for two $20,000 payouts

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:45
Industry innovators vie for two $20,000 payouts

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 9, 2014

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

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

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

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

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Starbucks faces "significant" recycling challenges

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:44
Starbucks faces "significant" recycling challenges

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

April 9, 2014

Sustainability leaders at coffee giant Starbucks say their in-store recycling efforts are being hampered by a lack of sufficient – and consistent – recycling infrastructure.

The recently released Starbucks Global Responsibility Report details the challenges the company has faced in achieving its goal of providing all U.S. and Canadian stores with recycling receptacles by 2015. In 2013, only 39 percent of those stores featured in-store recycling for customers, the report shows.

"With approximately 20,000 retail locations globally, conditions vary from city to city and from store to store – making it a challenge for us to efficiently and effectively implement uniform recycling strategies," the report states. "A one-size-fits-all approach does not work for a global business with stores in 62 countries."

The man behind Starbucks' environmental impact division, Jim Hanna, told Resource Recycling Starbucks recycling receptacles represent "the last step in a long process." According to Hanna, it's the infrastructure in place that dictates whether or not Starbucks can bring more bins to stores.

Hanna says several factors are at play in building local recycling infrastructure, including market demand, local recycling policies and the availability of commercial waste hauling services.

Despite a gain of 15 percentage points from 2012 in Starbucks North American receptacle access, 2013 saw decreased acceptance rates for used paper cups, an item at the center of the company's recycling goals. The cups, which are made from 10 percent recycled fiber, are recyclable, Starbucks says, but they have a polyethylene coating.

"That limits the amount of paper mills that can take that material," Hanna said, adding that there's "a good critical mass of paper mills throughout the U.S. that can easily process poly-coated paper."

Hanna also said the company is currently engaged in an effort to get paper cups accepted uniformly in coated paper bales (also known as No. 52), which would help streamline the process of recycling the products. He said lids are able to separated out at most MRFs and can go into mixed plastics bales. The company's plastic cups for cold beverages, meanwhile, can be recycled as clear polypropylene.

Starbucks plans to continue partnerships with the Foodservice Packaging Institute, local governments and the recycling industry to enable in-store recycling and push for increased curbside collection services. Research has shown that "a vast amount" of to-go cups from Starbucks "end up in people's homes," Hanna said, and pushing for residential collection often leads to gains in commercial collection services as well.

"If a community invests in the infrastructure to collect a material on the residential side, often the haulers will just collect the material on the commercial side," Hanna said.

Starbucks is also tracking reuse numbers. In 2013 1.8 percent of beverages went into tumblers customer brought with them into the store, up from 1.5 percent in 2012 and 2011 but still behind a 5 percent reuse goal set for 2015.

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CalRecycle details three fraud busts

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:44
CalRecycle details three fraud busts

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 9, 2014

Six people have been arrested and a recycling company has agreed to close following three separate recycling fraud investigations in the state of California.

CalRecycle, the governmental organization overseeing California's container deposit program, says nearly $750,000 had been swindled from the state as a result of redemption of out-of-state containers by the three operations.

In the most recently announced case, an investigation by CalRecycle led to the closure of Bullseye Recycling, a Susanville recycling center working to trade in out-of-state bottles for California deposits.

Loads of aluminum and plastic containers were apparently driven into California and redeemed while excessive in-state loads were divvied up to dodge daily load limits. The illicit activities were tracked by CalRecycle, and a review of business records and receipts revealed inadequate documentation and possible falsification of documents.

The recycling center agreed to pay $235,000 in restitution and close by May 31.

Two additional cases were announced through a separate CalRecycle press release.

Collection site operator Mario Morales Nolasco of Oakland was arrested alongside three "co-conspirators" for trading in hoards of out-of-state aluminum beverage containers in California, the release states.

The operation was estimated to have netted the group nearly $330,000 and relied on an intricate smuggling operation from Washington state. The cans were allegedly traded in at California redemption centers.

All four suspects have pleaded no contest and will serve anywhere from 76 to 178 days in jail, with restitution ranging from $4,000 to Nolasco's $146,000.

The final bust announced by CalRecycle was apparently a two-person operation, with Yakima, Washington resident Bulmaro Elias Martinez and Ray Montalvo Campos allegedly working in unison to trade in Washington containers in California. The state charges Martinez would "regularly buy empty beverage containers from the public in Washington … [and] transported the material to California," where Campos would actively assist in their redemption.

The duo made upwards of $95,000. Campos has pleaded no contest to charges, which include 120 days in jail and $11,000 in restitution, while "the Martinez extradition is still being processed," the release reads.

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Novelis cracks open partnership for certified recycled can

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:43
Novelis cracks open partnership for certified recycled can

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 9, 2014

A microbrewery in Georgia is the first company to use a "high-recycled" content aluminum can from Novelis.

The aluminum giant announced this week Red Hare Brewing Company, based in Marietta, will be using the Novelis Evercan product to package beers that will be available to consumers starting next month. The Evercan aluminum sheet is made from at least 90 percent recycled content, according to the company. Novelis partners with independent auditor SCS global services to certify such recycled content figures are achieved.

Red Hare has been a leader in the proliferation of canned beers within the craft brew industry. According to a press release announcing the Evercan deal, more than 400 craft beer companies currently use aluminum cans for at least some portion of their packaging needs. Red Hare representatives note the strategy aligns with their environmental goals.

"The independent certification of the closed-loop recycling process behind Evercan strengthens our commitment to employing the best in sustainable business practices," Roger Davis, founder and CEO of Red Hare, said, "making Evercan a natural extension of the Red Hare brand."

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NW&RA helps push hazardous material recycling

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:42
NW&RA helps push hazardous material recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 9, 2014

With spring cleaning in full swing for some Americans, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NW&RA) is stepping up its efforts to encourage residents to recycle their household hazardous waste (HHW).

NW&RA released a spring cleaning-inspired infographic last week, detailing the items and products residents should avoid throwing out.

Prioritizing reuse above all, NW&RA tells residents in a press release to "check with family and friends if they can use them." In the event those items are not in demand or are truly at an end-of-life stage, citizens are urged to seek out HHW collection events and local waste for more information about where they can safely dispose of items such as light bulbs and electronics.

An additional page on the organization's Begin with the Bin site offers more information on e-scrap laws throughout the country. The group also lists major electronics companies that provide in-store collection and special collection events, often free of charge.

NW&RA says there were 1,389 hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities in the U.S. as of 2011.

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Wide world of recycling

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:41
Wide world of recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 9, 2014

Glass recycling stays steady in the EU and Tesco lays out a plan to package eggs in recycled plastic.

The European Container Glass Federation says the EU's glass container recovery rate came in at 70 percent in 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available. The figure is flat compared with 2011.

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

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

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Resource Recycling Conference 2014: Where top decision-makers gather

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:39
Resource Recycling Conference 2014: Where top decision-makers gather

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 9, 2014

Industry CEOs. Influential policy makers. The leading lights from advocacy organizations. All these individuals and plenty more will be on hand in New Orleans at the 2014 Resource Recycling Conference, the place for recycling's high-level discussions and unique education sessions.

If you want your ideas or your organization to develop deeper industry inroads in the coming years, the annual event, scheduled for Sept. 16-17, is the best trip you can make. The expertly curated panel discussions, ancillary meetings and one-on-one networking opportunities simply can't be found at any other location. You care deeply about the direction of the recycling industry, so make the effort to interact with others who share your passion and commitment.

The 2014 Resource Recycling Conference will be held Sept. 16-17 at the New Orleans Hilton Riverside. Find all the information about attending, sponsoring and exhibiting at rrconference.com.

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NewsBits

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 16:38
NewsBits

April 9, 2014

Madison, Wisconsin's nine-month old mattress and box spring recycling program has been suspended indefinitely after the city's contractor went out of business. Despite searching for another contractor to take the bulky bedroom staples, Madison officials concluded there are currently no other recycling options available. All collected mattresses and boxsprings that have yet to be processed will be heading to landfill.

Indiana's recently-passed recycling bill was given a much-needed lift by glass manufacturer Verallia North America and aluminum maker Alcoa, according to Democratic Rep. Matt Pierce. The law, which sets an aspirational goal of recycling 50 percent of municipal solid waste, likely would not have gained traction had it not been for the support of those firms.

A tentative agreement has been reached for Milwaukee and nearby Waukeshka County, Wisconsin to team up on recycling duties. Still awaiting a formal endorsement by Milwaukee's Common Council and Waukeshka's County Board, the arrangement would allow both parties to send material to a converted old transfer station, which would function as a processing center.

 

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Is international EPR a viable roadmap for U.S.?

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 13:03
Is international EPR a viable roadmap for U.S.?

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

April 3, 2014

A study released last week by two industry groups suggests extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs abroad are leading to higher packaging recycling rates. What's far less clear is whether similar strategies would work stateside.

Taking stock of 11 EPR programs in Australia, Canada and Europe, PAC NEXT and the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) found EPR programs for packaging and printed paper (PPP) led to recycling rates generally between 61 and 74 percent, but in some cases boosted rates all the way to the 80 percent level.

The Canadian province of Manitoba represented the least successful program, with a study-low recycling rate of 52 percent in 2011. That rate, however, still surpassed the U.S. 2012 packaging recycling rate of 51.5 percent. In the words of Scott Cassel, PSI's CEO, "The average U.S. recycling rate is much lower than the average rates for most European countries with EPR for packaging systems."

Collectively, 27 EU member countries have raised the packaging recycling rate from just above 50 percent in 2005 to above 60 percent in 2011, dispelling the opinion that producer-led systems can't gain traction, Cassel says.

But Chaz Miller of the National Waste & Recycling Association (NW&RA) says comparing the effectiveness of U.S. and European packaging recycling systems is "comparing apples to oranges." According to Miller, who serves as director of policy and advocacy at NW&RA, several factors complicate such an analysis, including high population density overseas and divergent methods for collecting and counting data.

Moreover, Miller says growth in U.S. recycling of packaging since 2000 "has been pretty robust." U.S. EPA data shows the packaging recycling rate going from 38.1 percent in 2000 to 51.5 percent in 2012. "That's definitely progress," Miller told Resource Recycling.

While producers may have expertise in making and selling products, they have "absolutely no expertise in recycling them," Miller said, arguing attention should be paid to methods that have helped the U.S. recycling infrastructure thus far, including mandated recycling targets, pay-as-you-throw programs and landfill bans. Addressing multi-family housing recycling is also a top priority for NW&RA going forward.

Cassel, however, told Resource Recycling that while "EPR systems are complex … the more we can understand the various elements of how programs are designed and operate in other jurisdictions, the less abstract the discussion becomes about how an EPR program might work in the U.S."

"Hopefully, these data will allow those of us in the U.S. to have a more informed discussion and debate about how EPR programs operate worldwide, how they might work in the U.S., and whether complementary policies or voluntary strategies can hope to achieve the same results," Cassel stated.

The PSI and PAC NEXT study finds that the greatest recycling results are reached when a suite of best practices are put in place alongside an EPR system.

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Nebraska's Midland Recycling changes hands

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 13:00
Nebraska's Midland Recycling changes hands

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 3, 2014

The original owners of an 18-year-old recycling company in Nebraska are back at the helm of the firm.

A team led by industry veteran Mick Barry has purchased Lincoln-based Midland Recycling from Palmer Refuse, Inc. for an undisclosed amount and took control on April 1. Barry and several of his business partners helped launch Midland in 1996 and ran the company until it was sold to Greenstar Recycling in 2007.

Greenstar sold the firm to Palmer Refuse in 2009. Barry told Resource Recycling Palmer leaders decided to offload the property so they could focus on their primary hauling business.

Midland handles the recycling of aluminum, paper and plastics Nos. 1 and 2, and the operation will remain at its current facility.

Barry, who is a co-founder of the Iowa Recycling Association and is vice president of the National Recycling Coalition, is joined by Kelley McReynolds and Brian Meng atop Midland. McReynolds formerly worked for Greenstar Recycling and then Waste Management. Meng was formerly CEO of Mid America Recycling.

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A county-run MRF success story

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 12:59
A county-run MRF success story

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 3, 2014

Maryland's Baltimore County is operating its own recycling facility and making money off of it.

According to county officials, the Cockeysville plant has made a profit of $750,000 in four months and could make up to $2 million in net revenue this year.

"Not only are we retaining the market value of the recyclables ourselves, but this facility maximizes the benefits of our easy, single-stream residential recycling collection program for residents," Kevin Kamenetz, county executive, said in a press release.

The $23 million facility opened last November, serving as a major component of the county's mission to divert 50 percent of its municipal solid waste stream. It's worth noting the county does not include the city of Baltimore itself, but it does include Towson and other communities in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Since single-stream recycling went into effect in February of 2010, county residents have increased their volume of waste diversion by 49 percent. Last year was a record year for the area, diverting 53,714 tons of material.

County officials are beginning to give free public tours of the facility in hopes of encouraging more recycling among residents — and possibly netting some community volunteers to help with the operation.

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