Plastics Recycling Update Magazine

Updated: 1 day 20 hours ago

Rhode Island takes on contaminated loads

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 11:51
Rhode Island takes on contaminated loads

By Dan Leif, Plastics Recycling Update

Sept. 11, 2014

The group that operates the only MRF in Rhode Island says it has seen significant increases in contamination over the last year, and it's starting to more frequently fine municipalities that send heavily tainted loads.

Starting last week, the quasi-public state organization Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) began regularly enforcing a code in its municipal contracts that makes contaminated loads subject to a $250 fee.

RIRRC's director of recycling services, Sarah Kite, said three loads totaling roughly 22 tons brought in on Sept. 6 from the city of Cranston were rejected and hit with fines. In the past, RIRRC would issue only two or three contamination fines for an entire year.

"We're seeing a lot of food scraps," said Kite, "and also leaf and yard debris, construction and demolition debris, broken furniture, cables, ropes, textiles and more. The contaminated loads are just garbage."

Kite said the rise in contamination has come alongside the transition to single-stream collection in many of the state's larger municipalities. Currently, 14 towns and cities in Rhode Island offer automated single-stream pick-up of recyclables.

Kite said all was moving ahead smoothly until Providence, the state's capital and largest city with 225,000 people, switched to roll carts in 2013.

"Providence has the most to gain and the most to contribute, but what we're seeing unfortunately is they are causing the most problems," Kite said. "Looking back, I think the program needed to be implemented in phases. You start with different areas of the city and that way you can really target your educational efforts. The door-to-door was needed in a city as diverse as Providence."

Kite said RIRRC sent out notices to municipalities in early July alerting them to the fact the enforcement action would start up this month. She said the timing was tough because Labor Day weekend tends to be a time of heavy waste generation and thus improper use of recycling bins. But she thinks when towns and cities see the load rejection charges on their September bills, they will be quick to deepen communication with residents.

"Public works directors are saying, 'I need a stick,'" said Kite. "Hopefully, this will help them prove their point they need more ongoing education."

The RIRRC's MRF processes 130,000 tons of material per year. When a load dumped onto the tipping floor is deemed overly contaminated, it gets moved to the group's landfill, which is located nearby. Still, that step causes headaches for officials trying to keep pace with the materials stream.

"We're the only MRF in the state," Kite said. "We need to be operating 50 tons an hour and can't shut down."

Contamination also appears to be a concern in nearby New York City. A recent story cited 2014 data showing recycling violations up 47 percent six months through the year.

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Resource Recycling Conference 2014: The shifting scrap plastics landscape

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 11:47
Resource Recycling Conference 2014: The shifting scrap plastics landscape

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Sept. 11, 2014

A year after the peak of China's Green Fence customs crackdown, plenty of questions remain when it comes to the movement of recovered plastics.

Are recycling operations finding new domestic end market opportunities or sticking with the same foreign destinations? Will Chinese plastics processors set up facilities in the U.S.? What's the role of energy recovery technologies?

At next week's Resource Recycling Conference, attendees will get some answers to those plastic puzzlers. SPI's Recycling Committee has been exploring the complex relationship of export markets and the domestic plastics recycling industry, and industry expert Kim Holmes will share the results of this critical research.

Resource Recycling Conference 2014 is taking place next week at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Sept. 15-17. Head to rrconference.com for more information.


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Trex sees sales rise

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 11:43
Trex sees sales rise

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Sept. 11, 2014

The leading producer of wood-plastic composite products experienced a 23 percent jump in net sales to $121 million in the quarter ended June 30 over the previous year’s sales performance.

Trex’s net income for the period rose 15 percent to $15 million.

Trex produces recycled plastic lumber products at sites in Nevada and Virginia, with more than 400 employees working in more than 700,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Trex has more than $100 million in value in its property, plant and equipment.

The top three executives at the publicly traded company received a combined $4.7 million in compensation in the last fiscal year.

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PetroChem Wire: Recycled HDPE prices firm in early September

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 11:41
PetroChem Wire: Recycled HDPE prices firm in early September

Sept. 11, 2014

Prices for many grades of recycled HDPE are firm in early September due in part to strong demand from the horticultural industry and resultant spot shortages.

HMW HDPE regrind drum prices were up 3 to 4 cents per pound the first week of the month, with business done at 55 cents per pound delivered Eastern U.S. (52 FOB). The same grade in pellet form sold as high as 62 cents per pound FOB Eastern U.S., also up 3 cents per pound from August.

Prices in Florida for flake and pellet forms of similar quality material were 3 to 5 cents per pound higher than eastern Midwest locations due to a shortage of trucks for deliveries into Florida.

In the prime resin market, U.S. Gulf spot blow mold HDPE held at 81 cents per pound from late August to early September.

For a free trial to the Repro/Regrind Resin Report or to see sample issues of all PCW reports visit the PetroChem Wire website at www.petrochemwire.com. You can also contact Cindy Bryan at cindy@petrochemwire.com or (713) 385-1407.


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Putting film reclamation on a "Podium"

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 11:37
Putting film reclamation on a "Podium"

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Sept. 11, 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, has launched a campaign to enlist local governments in promoting and tracking their activities to increase the recycling of polyethylene (PE) film packaging.

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, which will be unveiled at next week's Resource Recycling Conference [Ed: the publisher of this publication is also the organizer of the conference].

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.

For more information on the Emerge Knowledge workshop at the Resource Recycling Conference, go to rrconference.com/workshops.

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Wide world of plastics recycling

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 11:33
Wide world of plastics recycling

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Sept. 11, 2014

A packaging giant in South Africa is moving forward on a PET recycling facility, and the U.K. gets some good news on its plastics recovery efforts.

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.

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.

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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NewsBits

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 11:31
NewsBits

Sept. 11, 2014

A letter from the attorney general in Texas indicated municipal bag bans may not be allowed under Lone Star State law. Greg Abbott wrote out his legal thoughts on the matter at the request of a state lawmaker. Dallas, Austin and a number of other municipalities in Texas have passed bans and/or fees on plastic carryout bags.

Green Sky Industries of New Jersey last week informed its more than 100 employees it is abruptly closing both of its processing facilities in the state due to "declining business conditions." A holder of more than 75 municipal contracts, Green Sky was said to be hampered by Green Fence-related markets for recycled commodities overseas.

In other news out of the Garden State, the municipality of Parsippany-Troy Hills has stopped accepting plastic bags in its curbside recycling service.

Residents in the rural Regional District of Fraser-Fort George in British Columbia will be able to recycle all plastics No. 1 through 7 starting this October. The materials will need to be brought to area recycling depots.

 

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Bill Caesar leaves Waste Management

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 17:26
Bill Caesar leaves Waste Management

By Bobby Elliott and Dan Leif, Plastics Recycling Update

Sept. 5, 2014

Waste Management's top recycling executive is parting ways with the firm after a tenure in which the company experienced erratic profitability and worked to develop a number of alternative technologies including plastics-to-oil.

Bill Caesar, president of WM Recycle America and WM Organic Growth, is leaving the company this month, a Waste Management representative told Plastics Recycling Update. The move is tied to a corporate reorganization Waste Management is currently undertaking.

"As part of our broader effort to align our corporate functions with the strategic priorities of the company and to better support the needs of the business, we’re doing a bit of restructuring of the teams that support the recycling business, a business that continues to be a very important part of our overall portfolio," said Toni Beck, WM corporate spokesperson. "Given this, Bill Caesar has decided to leave the company mid-September. As leader of both the company’s recycling business and its portfolio of investments in new technology and services businesses, Bill’s disciplined and focused leadership has paid tremendous dividends and we wish him much success as he moves on to new opportunities."

Caesar joined publicly traded Waste Management in 2010 as the company's chief strategy officer and, at the time, recycling revenues were soaring. Reflecting in large part the volatility of recycling markets in recent years, the company's performance in the sector was erratic during Caesar's time with the company.

According to the company's annual financials, revenues from the recycling business in 2010 totaled $1.17 billion, signifying a major jump from 2009's $741 million in revenues. In 2011, revenues were even higher, reaching $1.58 billion.

Caesar took over as WM Recycle America president in January of 2012. That year, after four consecutive years of gains, revenues fell to $1.36 billion. In 2013, with Caesar still at the helm, revenues improved, coming in at $1.48 billion but failing to reach 2011's record highs.

Throughout Caesar's time with the company, Waste Management tried to push forward in several emerging areas, dedicating resources to anaerobic digestion and plasma technology. The company was also active trying to find profitable pathways in the plastics-to-oil space.

The firm was one of several entities that provided more than $20 million in funding to Oregon startup Agilyx in 2011, and Waste Management installed a batch-feed system from Agilyx in a Portland, Oregon plant. That venture aimed to generate oil from hard-to-recycle plastics, but earler this year the plant was shuttered. Waste Management officials have said they plan to re-open the facility once new levels of technology become available.

Also during Caesar's tenure Waste Management increased its number of mostly single-stream materials recovery facilities (MRFs) throughout the country, a trend underscored by the January 2013 acquisition of Greenstar Recycling and that firm's dozen MRFs.

In November of 2013 Caesar gave an extensive interview with Resource Recycling, noting the recycling side of Waste Management was taking notable financial hits because of China's Green Fence restrictions on scrap imports. The company has not named a replacement for Caesar or announced any further recycling wing-specific cuts as part of the reorganization.

Caesar was a key force behind making Waste Management a founding sponsor of the annual Recycling Innovators Forum [Ed: the magazine's parent company, Resource Recycling, Inc. is also a founding sponsor], which rewards "inventors and innovative organizations with game-changing ideas on how to advance recycling," including several finalists in the plastics recycling realm.

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Resource Recycling Conference 2014: The Good, the bad and the ugly of EPR

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 17:22
Resource Recycling Conference 2014: The Good, the bad and the ugly of EPR

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Sept. 5, 2014

Extended producer responsibility for packaging, a concept in which packaging producers pay for the recycling of relevant materials after they're discarded by consumers, has recently gained traction in the offices of some lawmakers and corporate decision-makers.

At the upcoming Resource Recycling Conference, a moderated panel discussion will help provide a balanced, honest and thought-provoking look at the EPR landscape. Give these experts an opportunity to offer their perspectives and you just might walk away with an altered viewpoint of the contentious issue.

The session will feature Paul Gardner of Recycling Reinvented, Chaz Miller of the National Waste & Recycling Association, Meghan Stasz of Grocery Manufacturers Association and Usman Valiante of Corporate Policy Group LLP.

Resource Recycling Conference 2014 is taking place at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Sept. 15-17. Head to rrconference.com for more information on attending, sponsoring and exhibiting.


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California passes historic bag ban

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 17:19
California passes historic bag ban

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Sept. 5, 2014

California has become the first state in the nation to ban plastic checkout bags from grocery and convenience stores.

The bill, SB 270, was passed last Friday by a vote of 22-15 in the state Senate. It now heads to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until Sept. 30 to sign the bill into law.

If signed, as some local reports suggest will happen, SB 270 will ban plastic "single-use" bags offered at grocery and convenience stores throughout the state and would install a minimum 10-cent fee on reusable, compostable and paper bags. The bill, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla, also allocates $2 million from a state recycling loan fund to provide plastic bag companies capital loans to transition into the reusable bag manufacturing market.

With the 2014 legislative session coming to an end Aug. 31, the pressure was on for ban advocates to pass the bill through both the Assembly and Senate. After the Assembly initiallyshot down the measure, bill lobbyists and advocates pushed successfully for a revote. That revote proved successful, and the bill moved on to the Senate.

Bag ban supporters pushed for similar bans in 2010 and 2013, but both times failed to garner enough backing from the state legislature — the efforts faced tremendous opposition from plastic bag makers and the paper bag industry.

That opposition is now focused on the governor.

"The advancement of SB 270 is a perfect example of why California citizens are disgusted by their state legislature," Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, said in a statement. "SB 270 threatens thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurts the environment by mandating the distribution of thicker plastic bags, and directs all fees collected into the pockets of grocers and their union partners."

"We urge Governor Brown to look closely at the terrible consequences of this legislation and veto it," Califf continued in the statement.

From 2007, when San Francisco passed its bag ban measure to the beginning of 2014, more than 100 local bag ban ordinances had been passed in the Golden State.

The bill dictates local ordinances already passed would remain intact, and the state law would target the remaining two-thirds of California's population not already covered by a ban.


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Austin adds rigid plastics to curbside program

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 17:06
Austin adds rigid plastics to curbside program

By Dan Leif, Plastics Recycling Update

Sept. 5, 2014

Buckets, lawn chairs, toys and most other types of bulky rigid plastics can now be placed in curbside carts in Austin, Texas, a move that came after MRFs in the area secured permanent markets for that material.

Bob Gedert, who heads up recycling for the City of Austin, said the municipality sends material to two area materials recovery facilities (MRFs) — Balcones Resources and Texas Disposal Systems — and the contracts in place with those facilities allow the city to add one new type of material to the recycling stream each year.

Last year the city and the MRFs agreed to bring aluminum foil and metal pans into the system.

This year bulky plastics are coming on board. Next year the city is aiming to introduce aseptic containers, though MRF operators have yet to approve that material and discussions are ongoing.

"Part of it is really assuring the MRF operators we will work with them over time," said Gedert, noting it's up to his communications team to educate residents to pull metal components and other possible contaminants out of the rigid plastics now heading into receptacles. "I ran a MRF in Ohio 20 years ago, so I can talk to operators at their level, which helps build trust."

He said MRF operators started by determining where they could isolate and separate rigid plastics on the processing line. Then they had to secure buyers they knew would be willing to consume the material.

"Newly accepted hard plastics, such as laundry baskets and buckets, are typically made out of polypropylene or high density polyethylene," a press release from Austin notes. "These plastics can be manufactured into things like ice scrapers, rakes, battery cables, plastic lumber, fencing and more."

Austin's acceptance of large rigid plastics comes as it aims to increase tonnages to stay on pace with diversion goals. Currently, Austin is diverting 40 percent of waste from landfills, and officials want to boost that number to 50 percent in 2015 and 90 percent by 2040.

Gedert and his staff recently rolled out an initiative called the GIve Us 5 Challenge, which aims to increase the volume of collected recyclables by five pounds per month per household. If such an increase happens, the city will hit its 50 percent diversion goal, Gedert said.

With the addition of all rigid plastics, Austin officials can now direct residents to recycle all plastic products except film and foam. "That's an easier message to deliver than just trying to use the [resin identification code] system," Gedert said.


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Europe recycled 65 billion PET bottles in 2013

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 16:55
Europe recycled 65 billion PET bottles in 2013

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Sept. 5, 2014

With demand for PET packaging on the rise, Europe captured the equivalent of 65 billion PET bottles for recycling last year, a new report shows.

PET-industry group Petcore Europe released 2013 numbers this week, estimating that 65 billion PET containers were diverted from landfills during the year. That total equates to roughly 1.8 million tons of PET plastic, a 7 percent climb from last year's totals. It represents 56 percent of overall generation.

"The demand for PET as the packaging material of choice continues to grow, penetrating new markets with innovative applications," Roberto Bertaggia, Petcore Europe chairman, said. "The extraordinary ability of PET to be recycled and reused into a wide variety of end uses is part of this success story and is helping towards the movement to a circular economy in Europe."

According to Bertaggia, capacity remains for more PET to be recycled throughout Europe as long as "improved and standardized collection and sorting processes" are put in place.

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PetroChem Wire: Recycled PET prices increase

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 16:50
PetroChem Wire: Recycled PET prices increase

Sept. 5, 2014

Prices for prime PET are stronger and recycled material is following suit in early September.

Prices for U.S. spot prime PET, bottle grade, were up 2 to 2.5 cents per pound in August due to increased buying activity and reduced PET production following a PTA feedstock plant outage in South Carolina and subsequent force majeure. Prime pricing is around 78 to 79 cents per pound in early September.

Recycled PET FDA-sanctioned clear pellets increased half a cent per pound at the end of August to 80.5 to 81.5 cents per pound FOB Eastern U.S. and are now seen at 81 to 82 cents per pound. PET end-users, anticipating a tighter prime market in coming weeks, have been buying more recycled material.

For a free trial to the Weekly Recycled Plastics Report or to see sample issues of all PCW reports visit the PetroChem Wire website at www.petrochemwire.com. You can also contact Cindy Bryan at cindy@petrochemwire.com or (713) 385-1407.


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Plastics not behind Madison move to end food scraps pilot

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 16:46
Plastics not behind Madison move to end food scraps pilot

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Sept. 5, 2014

Madison, Wisconsin has put a halt on an initiative to bring food scrap collection to all city residents, but one official there says plastics contamination isn't the holdup.

Since 2011, a composting pilot project for food scraps has serviced 500 homes and six businesses in Madison, and the plan was to gradually expand the program as the city built an anaerobic digester to eventually service all of Madison. But Mayor Paul Soglin recently decided the digestor was too costly to focus on this year, with other competing items taking a front seat.

The city provides separate seasonal yard debris and leaf collection services in addition to running a handful of drop-off sites for the material. Those services will not be affected.

George Dreckmann, the city's recycling coordinator, told Plastics Recycling Update the food scrap pilot program will be suspended now that the digester has been put on hold. He said the decision was driven by the digester plans, not contamination challenges the city began to face with non-compostable plastics getting into the organics stream.

"What we were looking at mostly was non-compostable film and bags — there was some cutlery in there but not a lot," Dreckmann said. "And we found that by shredding the material and then running it through a trammel with a one-inch screen, we were able to get out the vast majority of the non-compostable plastic."

Dreckmann added that initial composting in Madison "showed this is going to work" and any program, Madison's or another city's, would face basic contamination challenges. "You just have to live with that as a trade-off for participation sometimes," Dreckmann noted.

The program had fed a digester in Oshkosh, Wisconsin since 2011 and was in line for an additional investment and expansion this year.

Initial work on building a digester in the Madison area was set to begin in 2015, with construction of the facility commencing in 2016 and citywide service starting sometime in 2017.

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NewsBits

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 16:43
NewsBits

Sept. 5, 2014

A plastics recycling startup in Pennsylvania has been awarded a $737,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Zzyzx Polymers is planning to use the funds to propel research into a new technology the company is developing, which, if all goes as planned, will enable plastics recycling "without the need for extensive cleaning or sorting," a press release states.

With the ever-heightening global focus on waste plastics ending up in oceans, a Croatian company thinks it's come up with a solution. EcoCrotec has developed plastic film that is "marine biodegradable". The company is marketing its largely bio-based product to cruise lines, hotels and resorts.

Opponents to a bottle bill expansion in Massachusetts have launched a "No on Question 2" group. With a November ballot vote nearing and early signs indicating public support for a broader bottle bill in the state, "No on Question 2" has reportedly amassed a powerful cast of members. Members of the group include Coca Cola, HP Hood, Nestle Waters, Polar Beverages, the Massachusetts Food Association and Massachusetts Beverage Association, the American Beverage Association and recycling hauler and processor E.L. Harvey and Sons.

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California bag ban makes late push through Assembly

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 14:05
California bag ban makes late push through Assembly

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Aug. 28, 2014

In a surprising twist, California's bag ban bill has passed through the state Assembly.

After an initial Assembly vote Aug. 26 appeared to be four votes shy of the 41 needed to pass, legislators continued to debate the measure this week and eventually the bill was granted reconsideration.  A rare revote today saw 44 votes registered in support of the bill, which now heads back to the Senate for a concurrence vote.

Senators have to pass the bill by Aug. 31, when the California legislature officially concludes.  If passed, Gov. Jerry Brown would have until Sept. 30 to sign off on the measure.

The bill, which was introduced by Senator Alex Padilla, bans plastic checkout bags throughout state while imposing a minimum 10-cent fee on paper, compostable or reusable bags.  The measure also secured $2 million in competitive state loans to help bag makers transition to manufacturing thicker reusable bags.

Mark Murray, executive director of pro-ban group Californians Against Waste, says the bill passed a "tough hurdle" in moving through the Assembly and has the support needed to pass through the Senate.

"We’re counting the votes and we need 21, but we have 22," Murray told Plastics Recycling Update.  "I feel pretty good."

The bill, which Murray earlier predicted would pass through both the Assembly and Senate this week, has faced heavy opposition from the plastic bag industry and allies alike in the paper industry.  Plastic bag makers have long contended a statewide ban would cause jobs to be lost, while the paper industry has lobbied against the 10-cent charge the bill levys on paper, compostable and reusable bags offered at checkout.

In a strange turn of events, the San Jose Mercury News blew the lid on a fictitious Latino advocacy group, Familias Latinas de California, created by ban-opponents as part of a late push to urge California legislators to oppose the measure.

 

 

Massachusetts voters show early support for bottle bill expansion

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 15:18
Massachusetts voters show early support for bottle bill expansion

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Aug. 27, 2014

An environmentally-focused telephone poll out of Massachusetts shows support for an expanded bottle bill.

The poll, which reached a total of 606 "likely voters" between Aug. 3-5 and Aug. 10-12, found that 62 percent support an expansion of the state's bottle bill to include soda, beer and malt beverage containers, including plastic water bottles. The measure will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot after lawmakers failed to reach an accord earlier this summer that would appease both the beverage industry and environmentalists.

The poll was conducted by SocialSphere Inc. for the Boston Globe as part of the newspaper's weekly series of public opinion polls.

According to SocialSphere's chief analytics officer, Jonathan Chavez, voters in the state are well-versed in the back-and-forth that has gone on for years now regarding whether to expand the bill or keep it as is. "It's not a political issue with a lot of complications," Chavez is quoted as saying in the Boston Globe report on polling results. "That suggests not a whole lot can or will be done to change opinions."

Just 10 percent of poll participants said they remained undecided on the measure, with just 27 percent opposing the measure.

That said, the interests involved in the debate — and the potential money at stake for the beverage industry — suggest voters will hear plenty from expansion opponents leading up to the November 4 public vote.

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Resource Recycling Conference 2014: How plastics recycling is evolving

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 15:15
Resource Recycling Conference 2014: How plastics recycling is evolving

By Editorial Staff, Plastics Recycling Update

Aug. 27, 2014

From curbside collection to export markets and all the places in between, a range of presentations at the upcoming Resource Recycling Conference will provide a wealth a knowledge about what the future landscape of plastics recycling might look like.

Amy Roth of Green Spectrum Consulting will show which plastics are showing up in curbside roll carts and explain where they go. Elizabeth Bedard, of APR's Rigids Committee of the Association, will offer a deep dive into the supply and demand of polypropylene. And SPI's Kim Holmes will help sort out the increasingly complex relationship between shifts in export markets and processing realities in the U.S.

Those are just a few of the valuable education opportunities available to plastics professionals at Resource Recycling Conference 2014. Book your spot in New Orleans now.

Resource Recycling Conference 2014 is taking place at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Sept. 15-17. Head to rrconference.com for more information on attending, sponsoring and exhibiting.

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California bag ban falls short

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 15:12
California bag ban falls short

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Aug. 27, 2014

A bill that would have banned plastic checkout bags from grocery stores and retailers in California has been defeated yet again.

Seven California Representatives chose not to vote on the measure Monday, leading to a 37-33 vote that fell four votes shy of garnering the 41 votes needed to move out of Assembly and into the Senate.

Mark Murray, executive director of ban-supporter Californians Against Waste, is calling on the public to press the seven non-voting members of the Assembly. Murray says a revote is possible before the end of the week. It is unclear how likely that possibility is, especially in light of the fact that the bill would also need to make it pass the Senate in that timespan.

The bill, which was introduced by Senator Alex Padilla, would have banned plastic checkout bags throughout state while imposing a minimum 10-cent fee on paper or reusable bags. The measure also secured $2 million in competitive state loans to help bag makers transition to manufacturing thicker reusable bags.

Murray suggested last week the votes were in place for the bill to pass through both the Assembly and the Senate by the time the state legislature closes shop at the end of August. Two representatives identified as potential swing votes, Steven Bradford and Shirley Weber, were among the seven non-voting members of the Assembly.

Bradford's office last week said the Representative was "studying the debate," but as the vote neared Bradford decided the bill was not the kind of bill he could support. "While I support efforts to clean and protect the environment, I felt AB 270 did not go about it the right way," Bradford said in a statement sent to Plastics Recycling Update.

It is the third state bill to fall to make it passed state legislators. Similar attempts in 2010 and 2013 also fell short, but this year — with 116 local ordinances covering about one third of California's population — was viewed as the best opportunity yet to get a statewide ban through the legislature.

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ReCommunity says quality must improve

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 15:07
ReCommunity says quality must improve

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

Aug. 27, 2014

One of the largest single-stream MRF operators in the country says "non-conforming" materials, including film and bags, are inundating facilities nationwide.

In an "Inbound Quality Alert" memo sent out earlier this month, ReCommunity states "nearly all" of the company's 33 U.S. facilities have been getting too much material they simply can't recycle. Those materials, such as garden hoses, plastic bags, diapers, needles and other medical waste, propane tanks, as well as yard and food waste, are contaminating the materials ReCommunity can recoup and hurting their value.

"Poor quality jeopardizes the usability of recycled materials throughout the supply chain, which is critical to the success of our mission; diverting recyclable materials from landfills," the alert reads.

Jeff Fielkow, ReCommunity's chief sales and marketing officer, told Resource Recycling the company is not alone in its inbound challenges. "Addressing poor inbound material quality is an industry-wide and supply-chain-long challenge," Fielkow wrote in an email. "Whether through surcharges or other measures, processors will be forced to share the cost of ensuring worker safety and end-market quality requirements."

Plastic films and bags, Fielkow notes, pose challenges "if a single-stream program is unprepared and ill-equiipped to cpature and process" them, but adds that non-plastic items "are an even bigger problem."

The problematic materials that are showing up at ReCommunity's MRFs aren't permitted in residential and commercial recycling programs in the first place and Fielkow points to education as key to correcting the issue. "We as an industry must recommit to ramping up education and outreach," Fielkow stated.

Beyond educational outreach to residents by the waste management industry – informing them of what to throw in recycling bins and what to keep out – ReCommunity also suggests penalties will await communities who can't get things straight. "ReCommunity will reject unacceptable loads and charge generators (or downgrade prices) for the costs associated with such unacceptable items (such as transportation, re-loading, clean-up, alternate disposal)," the memo reads.

As for the company's relationship to single-stream programs, which, despite their popularity have always posed contamination challenges, Fielkow said the company remains committed to the approach as "the most effective, efficient means of recycling."

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