Resource Recycling Magazine

Updated: 6 hours 24 min ago

Earth Day marked by materials recovery initiatives

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 09:33
Earth Day marked by materials recovery initiatives

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 21, 2015

What does recycling have to do with national security? It's not entirely clear but the National Security Agency has nonetheless developed a recycling mascot to celebrate Earth Day. Learn more in our sampling of the recycling-related programs companies and organizations are using to pay homage to the planet.

A recycling mascot encouraging school children to recycle comes from an unlikely federal source: the National Security Agency. That's right, the NSA. The mascot, called Dunk, is seen in a video discussing the NSA's longstanding recycling efforts and encouraging children to recycle.

Republic Services is celebrating Earth Day by donating tree seedlings to some communities, educating children on recycling and waste disposal and providing recycling drop-off bins for GREENFest, a Republic Services-founded event for Las Vegas Valley residents in Southern Nevada.

People with unwanted old denim can bring it to any American Eagle store, and it will be shredded and processed into insulation for homes for low-income people. American Eagle and Make it Right announced the launch of the denim recycling program. Customers will receive a 20 percent discount on a new pair of jeans from American Eagle when they return denim for recycling.

Beer drinking and recycling will go hand in hand at an Earth Day festival in Nashville, Tennessee. At the festival in Centennial Park, visitors will be able to recycle a range of items, including unwanted end-of-life electronics.

To celebrate Earth Day, Minnesota-based VONCO Waste Management will plant 200 trees, clean up roadways, lead tours of its facilities and provide a demonstration for elementary school students.

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CVP rebrands as Recycling Partnership

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 09:32
CVP rebrands as Recycling Partnership

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

April 21, 2015

The Curbside Value Partnership has changed its name to the Recycling Partnership and announced three additional "partner communities" in the process.

Founded in 2003, CVP launched the Recycling Partnership program last year after the concept was developed by the Southeast Recycling Development Council. The Recycling Partnership initiative has helped to expand cart-based recycling programs through a combination of public funding and private grants.

With work already underway in Columbia, South Carolina; Florence, Alabama; and Richmond, Virginia, Recycling Partnership will expand in 2015 to provide smaller scale outreach and educational support at no cost to Blacksburg, Virginia; Cleveland; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

The group plans to announce more pacts with municipalities later this year.

"Many cities do need grants around carts and they need that assistance to help trigger change within their communities, but there are a lot of other communities that are getting carts through various means and are calling us because they don't have the support pieces," Karen Bandhauer, Recycling Partnership's project director, explained to Resource Recycling.

Recycling Partnership can provide and customize those support pieces, Bandhauer said, while helping to implement standardized best practices.

The group decided to shift away from Curbside Value Partnership moniker to avoid confusion as the Recycling Partnership's initiatives became more active in the industry.

"This name change further echoes our organizational growth and systems-based approach developed over the past 12 months," Megan Daum, Recycling Partnership board of directors chairman and vice president of sustainability at the Can Manufacturer’s Institute, said in a press release.

The recently added municipal partners to the program are all in the midst of completing transitions to single-stream collection and have worked with Recycling Partnership to help develop resident-focused communications for free. Officials in each partner city said the group's support could help them continue to build momentum.

"We're really excited about working with the Recycling Partnership to help educate our residents on the curbside recycling program and improving the quality of our recycling materials," Terrell Cole, project manager for the Cleveland Mayor's Office, told Resource Recycling. "We've developed in a sense a Swiss-army-knife approach with them that allows us to look at the performance and then target what we do so we can impact behavior."

Cleveland, which will complete a rollout of its single-stream collection program for single-family residences by the end of 2015, has already identified one contaminant to address via outreach: plastics bags.

"Plastic bags are a big thing," Cole said. "Getting residents to put the recyclable material directly into the blue carts would be one of the things immediately we'd like to achieve."

Blacksburg, meanwhile, has set its sights on fully rolling out single-stream collection by July 1, at which point the City will start an education and outreach campaign designed and produced by Recycling Partnership, said the municipality's recycling coordinator, Karen Day.

"They've done a wonderful job," Day said. "Anything that you need, as far as printed material, they can send it to you and you can just print it and use your own logo."

Brandi Williams, spokesperson for the Solid Waste Services in Charlotte, says the group helped develop the "We're on a Roll" campaign in Charlotte to encourage residents to switch from red dual-stream bins to larger roll carts.

"We needed to get that message out and they've been working with us to help us communicate that message to our citizens," said Williams.

The development of the Recycling Partnership program has had significant financial implications for the group formerly known as the Curbside Value Partnership. In the past year alone, it has doubled its budget and cast of member organizations, the group states in the announcement.


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California beverage container program budget cuts off the table

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 09:29
California beverage container program budget cuts off the table

By Jared Paben, Resource Recycling

April 21, 2015

California officials no longer envision immediate cuts to programs funded by the state's beverage container fund – because the fund's financial future looks brighter.

That's according to a recent presentation by Susan Collins, executive director of the Container Recycling Institute, based in Culver City, California. Her analysis included data from an April financial report from CalRecycle, the state entity that administers waste management efforts including the redemption program.

"What we do know now is the fund will have stability through the middle of 2018," Collins told participants during an April 15 webinar.

The previously proposed cuts would have affected nearly all stakeholders involved in container recycling in the state. In March 2014, CalRecycle proposed cuts to payments it makes to redemption centers, curbside collectors, processors and recycling companies. It also proposed eliminating the current recycling grants program for local governments. Lastly, it wanted to increase the fees beverage manufacturers pay to support recycling.

Under California's bottle bill, consumers pay a nickel or dime deposit, depending on the container size. The funds feed the beverage container recycling fund, which collects about $1.2 billion a year. The state keeps money from unredeemed containers to pay for administration, enforcement, recycling grants, recycling subsidies and more.

In fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13, expenditures exceeded revenues by about $100 million each year, according to the presentation. As recently as a year ago, CalRecycle estimated the fund's cash balance would plummet into dangerously low sums in the first quarter of 2016.

The forecast has improved, partly because of state regulators' efforts to tighten the program, including cracking down on fraud.

CalRecycle tightened rules for redemption centers, where most bottles are returned, in several ways. It reduced the number of containers that can be redeemed per person each day, forbid payments for commingled loads (those containing a mix of deposit and non-deposit containers), mandated training and required the use of state reporting software.

CalRecycle also hired additional auditors, registered hundreds of additional distributors and manufacturers that should have been participating in the program and boosted efforts to collect deposits, she said. 

What's more, California took steps at the state line to track importation of bottles to ensure they weren't being illegally redeemed, and the result has been a drop in imported loads, Collins said.

Legislators also gave CalRecycle the ability to suspend payments to recycling centers found guilty of fraud, and they shifted funding for the California Conservation Corps from the beverage container fund to other funds.

The program changes have resulted in a drop in the redemption rate. At the same time, more consumers are buying drinks, resulting in a revenue boost, she noted.

The redemption rate for fiscal year 2014-15 is projected to be 81 percent, down from 85 percent in calendar year 2013. The "break-even" rate, or the redemption rate at which there are enough unredeemed containers to pay the fund's expenses, is projected to be 79 percent. That leaves a gap of only 2 percentage points for fiscal year 2014-15, down from a 10-percentage-point gap in 2013.

CalRecycle's program changes have also resulted in a shift away from redemptions at centers and toward curbside collections, Collins said. Historically, about 8 to 10 percent of deposit containers were collected at the curb, but it might be closer to 15 percent now, Collins said.

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Group: Records show lower commercial recycling rate for NYC

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 09:28
Group: Records show lower commercial recycling rate for NYC

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 21, 2015

New York City's commercial sector generates more waste and has a lower diversion rate than previously thought, according to an advocacy group that used Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain previously undisclosed government documents.

At 24 percent, the Big Apple's commercial recycling rate is considerably less than the 40 percent previously touted, according to ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York. And the sector generates a total of 5.5 million tons of waste per year, 2 million tons more than city government has told the public, according to ALIGN.

"This previously undisclosed research shows that New York City has been burying far too much of its commercial waste – millions of tons each year – in landfills, while also burying the evidence of just how unsustainable, polluting and inefficient the commercial waste system is," Gavin Kearney, director of environmental justice at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, stated in a press release.

ALIGN's report, entitled "Dirty, Wasteful and Unsustainable: The Case for Reforming New York City’s Commercial Waste System," calls for major investments in MRFs and anaerobic digestion or composting facilities. It also repeats calls from a 2013 report it issued for city government to implement a system in which private haulers bid for franchise rights to serve various zones of the city.

ALIGN used a records request to obtain a 2012 study by consultants Halcrow Engineers. The study estimated haulers of commercial material drive about 12 miles to collect each ton of waste and recyclable materials. In contrast, trucks belonging to the city's Department of Sanitation, which provides residential service, drive about four miles to collect a ton.

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Wide world of recycling

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 09:25
Wide world of recycling

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 21, 2015

The U.S. and China were the top generators of trashed e-scrap in 2014, and an Indonesian plastics recycling company has received a $4.5 million investment from a California-based equity company.

The U.S. and China emerged as the world's top scrap electronics generators in 2014, according to a United Nations study. The U.S. generated a total of 7.8 million tons of end-of-life electronics, and China generated 6.7 million tons, according to the report. In terms of e-scrap collected for recycling through official take-back programs, the U.S. collected 1.1 million tons and China collected 1.4 million tons, according to the report.

An Indonesian plastics reclaimer has received a $4.5 million investment from a California-based private equity firm. One of the investors noted that plastics recycling companies in Indonesia have a difficult time obtaining financing from local banks.

The Earth Day network has released a list of events being held worldwide to celebrate the annual event on Wednesday. Happenings include an event to collect litter at the Great Wall of China, planting desert Ghaf trees in the United Arab Emirates and a litter cleanup in Bermuda.

Oxford has become the first city in the U.K. to ban its street food vendors from using expanded polystyrene containers. Local leaders voted to approve a ban, and one of them predicted other U.K. cities would follow suit.

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ISRI releases mobile app

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 09:23
ISRI releases mobile app

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 21, 2015

Networking with peers, accessing safety information and reading industry news can be done on the go with a recently released mobile app from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

ISRI Mobile, available for both Apple and Android devices, includes tools for ISRI members and other stakeholders.

ISRI members get access to a member directory, which is searchable by commodities handled and location. They also get access to the latest newsletters, Scrap magazine and advocacy tools.

The app includes information on ISRI’s annual convention, occurring this week in Vancouver, British Columbia, including schedules, speakers and exhibitor information.

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NewsBits

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 09:21
NewsBits

April 21, 2015

A bill in California would exempt reclaimers and recycling companies from paying sales tax on equipment purchases. Assembly Bill 199, which is sponsored by Californians Against Waste, would add recycled content manufacturing and processing to the sales and use tax exemption program. The state treasurer said the bill would have no negative effect on the state budget because companies wouldn't purchase the recycling equipment without the exemption.

Southbound Brewing Co., a Savannah, Georgia-based craft brewer, is now using a high-recycled-content can for its beer. The can, called evercan, is made by Novelis, and it contains at least 90 percent recycled aluminum.

Technology is finding ways to connect those who need food with businesses and institutions that would otherwise throw it away, according to this Fortune article. One example: Waste No Food, a nonprofit group founded by a 12th grader that uses an online marketplace to connect farms, restaurants and grocery stores with excess food with food pantries and other charities in need of it.

In Chicago, larger apartment buildings are required by city law to provide recycling for residents, but many don't, and the city hasn't done much in the way of enforcing the law. Public radio in the Windy City explores the topic in its Curious City feature.

Legislation banning plastic microbeads in personal care products has passed out of a California Assembly committee with a unanimous vote. Assembly Bill 888 is described by proponents as the strongest microbead ban in the country, because, unlike others, it prohibits microbeads that degrade in high temperatures. The beads pass from bathrooms, through wastewater treatment plants and into natural water bodies.

The Iowa legislature is considering funding a study looking at ways to expand recycling service to rural areas. An Iowa House committee approved spending $100,000 to look into options for providing recycling service.

One entrepreneur is aiming high when it comes to reuse. SpaceX is getting closer to safely landing the first stage of a rocket so it can be re-used, a practice that would dramatically reduce space travel costs. The Falcon 9 nearly landed safely on a ship but tipped over after touching down. It helped deliver a capsule full of supplies to the International Space Station.

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Industry and supplier news

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 09:20
Industry and supplier news

April 21, 2015

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) named David Biderman as its executive director and chief executive officer. Biderman worked at the National Waste and Recycling Association and its predecessors, and before that worked as an environmental and transportation attorney at a Washington, D.C.-based law firm. For more, click here.

Recycling cart manufacturer Meese Orbitron Dunne Co. has changed its name to MODRoto. The name highlights its expertise in rotational molding plastics while staying true to its heritage companies, the Ohio-based company stated. For more, click here.

Aluminum company Novelis announced Steve Fisher will serve as the company's interim president, following the departure of former president and CEO Philip Martens. Fisher has served as senior vice president and chief financial officer since 2007, and he'll continue to serve in that capacity. For more, click here.

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UPDATED: CalRecycle settles beverage container fraud case

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 08:25
UPDATED: CalRecycle settles beverage container fraud case

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 14, 2015

California's CalRecycle has rooted out another defrauder of the state's beverage deposit program.

San Leandro, California-based Alco Metal & Iron Company has agreed to pay the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) $1.74 million for orchestrating a scheme to redeem beverage containers twice. The company has been allowed to continue participating in the state's deposit program on "a Last Chance Reinstatement basis for the next five years."

According to CalRecycle's April 7 announcement, between December 2009 and February 2011 Alco redeemed more than 5 million pounds of aluminum cans and plastic bottles. The company then resold nearly 1 million of those containers to Wan Best Trading, which went on to redeem them a second time.

"The operators of Wan Best Trading are believed to have fled to China," the release states.

In an official response to the settlement, Alco stated it "believed Wan Best Trading would legally export that material outside the country."  Upon learning of Wan Best's actions, Alco says it "fully and thoroughly cooperated" with the investigation and "acknowleged its failure to perform due diligence required by law."

The company's full response can be read here.

The settlement reached with Alco is the latest in a series of actions against supposed bad actors in the state's deposit program. CalRecycle has identified fraud as a significant challenge in attempting to ensure the solvency of the redemption model in California.

"CalRecycle continues taking a major and multi-pronged effort to protect the recycling fund, including new approaches to curb fraud," the release states.

Note: This article has been updated to include the official response of Alco to the settlement.

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Judge lets Indy go forward with mixed-waste processing

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 08:24
Judge lets Indy go forward with mixed-waste processing

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

April 14, 2015

A ruling will allow the City of Indianapolis to move ahead with controversial plans for a mixed-waste processing facility to recover recyclables.

A lawsuit that challenged those plans was dismissed April 6 by Marion County Judge Cynthia Ayers. The ruling was first reported on by the Indianapolis Business Journal.

Indianapolis' mixed-waste strategy includes a 14-year contract with waste-to-energy company Covanta. The company would finance, build and operate a processing facility with the capability of separating recyclable materials from garbage. Such facilities, which are sometimes termed dirty MRFs, have been at the center of industry debate over the past year.

Indianapolis' director of sustainability, Melody Park, welcomed the decision on the Covanta deal, writing in an email that "Indy’s effort to boost recycling rates is moving forward."

"Covanta’s private investment, estimated at $45 million, in the Advanced Recycling Center (ARC) will feature innovative, game-changing recycling technology that will benefit the environment and taxpayers," Park wrote. "The Covanta ARC will work in tandem with the city’s existing curbside and drop-off recycling programs to position Indy as a national leader in sustainability."

Many in the recycling industry, including the Indiana Recycling Coalition (IRC), have opposed the plan on the grounds that it would give the mixed waste processing center a monopoly on the city's MSW and shut out the possibility of developing a robust curbside recycling system.

Carey Hamilton, IRC's executive director, told Resource Recycling her group is "disappointed and awaiting word from the plaintiffs about a possible appeal."

Under the Indianapolis contract, a copy of which was obtained by Resource Recycling, the Covanta facility will be required to divert at least 18 percent of the material it receives. While the contract does allow existing Indianapolis recycling programs to continue, it includes stiff financial penalties for introducing any alternative programs.

Indianapolis residents can currently subscribe to a curbside program through Republic Services. Drop-off recycling is also available.

"If the City grants any contractor the right to implement a recycling program for single family residential households in any part of Marion County, the parties acknowledge that the Company will suffer material damages … equal to $333,333.33 per month, multiplied by the number of months remaining in the then-current term of the Service Agreement," the contract reads.

Paper companies Graphic Packaging International and Rock-Tenn Converting Company along with citizen Cathy Weinmann were plaintiffs on the recent lawsuit. They claimed city officials failed to follow "the statutorily proscribed public process" in awarding the $112 million contract to Covanta without seeking and considering additional bids. Paper companies that use recycled feedstock have been particularly opposed to mixed-waste processing.

Graphic Packaging and Rock-Tenn  said in a brief statement sent to Resource Recycling they were "considering next steps."

In the original lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued the plan would "degrade the recycling stream, harming both the public and the plaintiff companies that rely on recycled waste, and actually creates a disincentive for the City to promote clean recycling."

In her ruling, Ayers found the City acted legally in amending a contract it already held with Covanta. The City has contracted with Covanta since 1985 and previously amended its agreement in 2008.

According to Indianapolis' Park, the facility "should be on-line by fall of 2016."

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RecycleManiacs divert 40,000 tons from landfills in 2015

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 08:20
RecycleManiacs divert 40,000 tons from landfills in 2015

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 14, 2015

For the second year in a row, a small Seattle-area university achieved the highest diversion rate in the RecycleMania tournament.

Antioch University Seattle took the Grand Champion award in the 2015 iteration of the event by diverting nearly 97 percent of its waste from landfill. The private college with about 720 students, faculty and staff took the same award in 2014, when it achieved a 93.1 percent diversion rate.

Overall in 2015, more than 40,000 tons of materials were diverted during the competition, which pitted 394 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada against each other and themselves to recycle more materials and reduce waste. The event is managed by Keep America Beautiful (KAB).

The 2015 winners in categories in the competition division:

  • Grand Champion: Antioch University (96 percent)
  • Per Capita Classic (total pounds recycled per person): Loyola Marymount University (73.9 pounds)
  • Waste Minimization (least overall waste per person): North Lake College (3.3 pounds)
  • Gorilla (most overall pounds recycled): Rutgers University (1,115 tons)
  • Food Service Organics (most overall recycled): Colorado College (14.5 tons)

Loyola Marymount University also took the top award in different types of materials collected per capita. The private college of 10,370 students, faculty and staff recycled 32.4 pounds of paper, 28.1 pounds of corrugated cardboard and 13.4 pounds of bottles and cans, per capita.

In the E-cycleMania category, Southwestern College took first place by recycling 22.2 pounds per person. In the film plastic category, Stanford University took the top award by recycling 0.08 pounds per person, for a total of 2,340 pounds recycled.

New to the 2015 competition was the “3R Actions Challenge,” which encourages students to reduce, reuse and recycle and share those actions via text, Twitter or a mobile app.

The competition, made possible with sponsorship from Alcoa Foundation and the Coca-Cola Co., took place during February and March.

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Compostable single-serve coffee pod announced

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 08:19
Compostable single-serve coffee pod announced

By Jared Paben, Resource Recycling

April 14, 2015

Canadian roaster Club Coffee has developed what it says is the first fully compostable single-serve coffee pod.

Representatives of Club Coffee and other organizations held a press conference in Seattle on April 8 to announce the PurPod100.

The pod works in machines made by Keurig Green Mountain, which controls about 90 percent of the single-serve coffee pod market, the company states. Club Coffee is one of several companies that have sued Keurig, claiming the company uses its monopoly power to keep single-serve coffee prices artificially high. The company has also filed a Competition Bureau complaint in Canada.

In 2014, 27 percent of U.S. households owned a single-serve coffee maker, Club Coffee CEO John Pigott said. And last year, sales reached $4 billion, a 32 percent increase over the year before.

The ring of the PurPod100 is made from coffee chaff, the skin of the bean that comes off during the roasting process. The pod is designed to be digestible by bacteria.

The company is in the process of having the PurPod100 certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute, and Gemmiti said he was "very optimistic" that it would qualify. The company is also seeking other certifications, including for backyard composting, that will make the technology available to consumers across North America.

The U.S. Composting Council has done a preliminary review of the PurePod100 testing data and is very encouraged by the results, said Al Rattie, director of market development for the U.S. Composting Council.

"We’re really looking forward to seeing the final certification and we are very, very confident that that will be as positive as everything we’ve looked at so far,” he said. “Composting is the solution for recycling our organics residuals, period. And this product make that a whole lot easier for both the user and the compost manufacturer."

Club Coffee CEO Pigott said the pods will break down in a commercial composting facility in a matter of weeks.

Recycling of single-serve cups is difficult because consumers need to separate the used grounds from the cup, and the small cups are difficult to capture at materials recovery facilities, so they end up as residual sent to landfill, said Alan Blake, executive director of PAC NEXT, a membership group focused on reducing packaging waste.

 

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NewsBits

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 08:18
NewsBits

April 14, 2015

The Carton Council and recycling bin supplier Recycle Away have partnered to provide more than 600 milk and juice carton recycling containers to New York City schools. The bins themselves look like giant cartons.

An emergency rule issued by the state of Washington to protect its apple crop from the infamous apple maggot could put a serious wrinkle in the city of Spokane’s composting program. The rule could prohibit debris from the city’s new curbside yard organics collection program from going to the composting center because it would cross a county line. The facility is one mile over the county line.

Florida’s Palm Beach County this summer will begin counting as recycling material sent to a soon-to-open waste-to-energy facility. That practice is legal under Florida law. According an article in the (Fort Lauderdale) Sun Sentinel, the county “generates twice as much revenue from burning trash than from recycling.”  

Some residents of one Florida county say their new, larger recycling carts are simply too large. A number of residents in Lee County are complaining that the 64-gallon carts are too difficult to store and handle, and they’ve asked for smaller ones.

Bills have been introduced in California, New York and Massachusetts to address product packaging, according to PAC NEXT. Legislation in California would seek to, among other things, promote EPR. In New York, a bill would require packaging meet standards for reduction, reusability and recycled content or recyclability. In Massachusetts, a bill would impose a packaging reduction and recovery fee on producers.

A thermostat recycling program has been launched in Oklahoma, allowing homeowners and contractors to drop-off intact old thermostats at any Locke Supply location free of charge. The thermostats are delivered to Thermostat Recycling Corp. for recycling, according to a press release. An average wall thermostat contains four grams of mercury.

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Industry and supplier news

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 08:16
Industry and supplier news

April 14, 2015

New York City’s Department of Sanitation and Veolia will double the number of events meant for collecting solvents, automotive parts, flammables and electronics, according to a press release. The program, called SAFE, will now hold 10 events each year. For more, click here.

National Recovery Technologies (NRT) has named Jennifer Jones as its new research and development engineer, the company announced. She will work to bring to market new systems and algorithms for materials identification in high-speed sorting environments. For more, click here.

Cascades Recovery and CellMark BC Holdings have formed a joint venture marketing and selling recovered materials generated from four Canadian provinces and the Pacific Northwest in the U.S., according to a press release. The new venture, called CasCell Trading Group, will be headquartered in Surrey, British Columbia. For more, click here.

General Kinematics, makers of vibratory equipment for bulk materials processing, has promoted Thomas P. Musschoot to president of the company. Since starting with the company in 1999, Musschoot has held various positions in marketing, production and sales. For more, click here.

Harris Waste Management Group has hired Dave Beshear as the company’s field service manager. He will be responsible for leading all Harris Field Service efforts in Cordele, Georgia. He most recently served as an engineering support technician for Jacobs ASG. For more, click here.

The Carton Council of North America has received a “Trashies” award from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and Smithers Pira. The Carton Council won the award under the “Partnership” category. The Trashies are new industry awards included as part of the annual SUSTPACK conference. For more, click here.

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Rhode Island mulls EPR for packaging

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 07:46
Rhode Island mulls EPR for packaging

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

April 7, 2015

Two bills introduced by Rhode Island lawmakers suggest the possibility of the state putting end-of-life product management duties onto the shoulders of packaging producers.

House Bill 5508 (HB 5508), introduced on Feb. 12, calls on packaging producers to develop a plan to fund the recycling of at least 80 percent of packaging sold in the state by 2020. House Bill 5673 (HB 5673), meanwhile, calls on various stakeholders within the Ocean State to assess the management of "existing and future EPR and/or product stewardship programs." That legislation was introduced on Feb. 26.

EPR, short for extended producer responsibility, is a concept in which product manufacturers finance and coordinate end-of-life concerns for the materials they sell into the market.

No U.S. state currently utilizes a comprehensive EPR system for printed paper and packaging (PPP), though EPR systems exist in numerous states for end-of-life management of products such as electronics, mercury-containing devices and paint.

British Columbia last year made waves by implementing an EPR program for PPP.

Rhode Island's HB 5508 has been referred to the House Finance Committee, and HB 5673 has been sent to the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

A representative from the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC), the quasi-public entity that operates the state's only materials recovery facility, told Resource Recycling a wider conversation on producer-funded materials diversion efforts could be beneficial.

"If it's not an issue in Rhode Island, I don't want to make it one," said Sarah Kite, RIRRC's director of recycling services. "That said, paper and packaging is the 800-pound gorilla in the room and it needs a real serious review."

According to Kite, Rhode Island municipalities at the moment remain more concerned with "hard to handle materials" than with packaging.

"What I'm hearing from them is, 'Yes, let's keep looking at it, let's keep talking about it, let's see if there's any more low-hanging fruit, but help me with my tires,'" Kite said.

Under HB 5508, producers would be given 12 months to devise a collective or individual plan to collect and recycle post-consumer packaging used in the state. By 2020, producers would need to reach 80 percent recycling rates "for each type of packaging" and could not rely on waste-to-energy or incineration to get there. The bill is tied to efforts to reduce the amount of packaging that ends up in oceans.

HB 5673, meanwhile, would require numerous stakeholders – including the state's Department of Environmental Management (DEM), RIRRC, municipalities and manufacturers – to report on and recommend changes to the management of the state's current EPR programs.

The end result would be a "an EPR and product stewardship program management structure" that could be followed for current and future programs, the bill states.

On March 19, the American Forest & Paper Association sent a letter opposing HB 5673 to Arthur Handy, chair of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

"Obligating the manufacturer to assume all costs associated with managing waste from its products or requiring the manufacturer to take back all of its products and packaging introduced into the commerce stream is detrimental," the letter states. "The practicality is also questionable because the current paper recovery rate is already so high that the marginal costs of additional recovery through this system will be cost prohibitive."

According to the most recent figures from the U.S. EPA, the U.S. recycling rate for paper and paperboard is 64.6 percent.

Rhode Island currently has EPR programs in place for e-scrap, paint, mercury thermostats and mercury car switches. In 2016, Rhode Island will start a mattress stewardship program.

DEM's director, Janet Coit, could not be reached for a comment on the bills.

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Ohio county hits mixed-waste processing crossroads

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 07:41
Ohio county hits mixed-waste processing crossroads

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

April 7, 2015

A suburban Ohio county is being pushed to depart from its long-established mixed-waste processing recycling system, after a report indicated the method was producing a recycling rate below 4 percent.

Since 1993, Medina County has owned a mixed waste processing center that received all MSW from the county's roughly 175,000 residents. The facility, which had been operated by Envision Waste Services, has come under fire after the County released data indicating it only recovered 3.6 percent of material in 2012. The county report containing that data recommended keeping the mixed-waste system until 2030 and complementing it with a drop-off program.

Medina County is located southwest of Cleveland and just west of Akron.

Leaders in the City of Medina, which serves as the county seat, have advocated an immediate rewrite of the 2016-2030 plan, altering it to introduce curbside collection.

"A 3.6 percent recycling rate is not satisfactory to the residents or city officials," John Coyne, Medina City Council president, told Resource Recycling.

According to Coyne, when the facility first started operating in 1993, it was billed as "a new and better way to recycle materials." But he says after more than 20 years of sending material to the site, he and other local leaders are ready for a revamped process. "Our goal is to lower our costs and increase recycling as much as possible, and I think that's everybody's goal," Coyne said.

According to Beth Biggins-Ramer, the county's solid waste district coordinator, the County has stopped using its mixed waste processing center until it can figure out how the facility fits into the region's waste management aspirations.

She added the region's most pressing need currently is not necessarily lifting recycling rates. Instead, the goal is simply meeting the state obligation to ensure recycling access and update the county solid waste plan.

Biggins-Ramer said her department has heard "loud and clear" some residents' desire to move toward a more traditional curbside system. "We are not against that," she said. "Our constraint is working through all the statutory timelines we are mandated to."

For the time being, Medina has introduced a "single-stream drop-off" system countywide, with all other material currently going to landfill. Its 400-plus page solid waste plan for 2016-2030 has to be approved by Medina's communities and reach the Ohio EPA by the fall.

In addition, a working group has been established to look into possible changes to the program, including introducing curbside. If that working group can settle on actionable items, the County will "voluntarily enter into a new and updated plan rewrite," Biggins-Ramer said.

Steve Viny, the CEO of Envision, argued the now-idled mixed waste processing facility has been popular with the community and successful.

"It's been a successful program for over two decades, it's been well embraced by the general public – they love it – and it's also helped the County meet the state of Ohio's recycling access goals," Viny said.

Medina's mixed waste processing center is one of only a handful operating in the U.S. The facilities, also referred to as dirty MRFs, to attempt to recover recyclables from the MSW stream. The approach has been hotly debated by many in the recycling industry.

The fate of Medina's 15-year plan, which will be voted on by the entire County later this year, could come down to the City of Brunswick's position. As the largest city in the County, Brunswick has "veto power," Medina's Coyne said, to decide whether to approve or decline the plan.

Coyne said Brunswick has been "generally aligned" with the city of Medina on the recycling issue. Brunswick officials did not return a request for comment.

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NPR shines light on recycling struggles

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 07:37
NPR shines light on recycling struggles

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 7, 2015

A string of public radio reports last week informed the masses of a fact recycling professionals already know all too well: It's become hard to make a buck via recovered materials.

NPR detailed the industry's economic crunch in a "Planet Money" segment called “Trash!” (though the reporter quickly learned that if a material is recyclable and valuable, then it isn’t trash at all).

The report detailed how the falling price of oil has hurt plastics recycling because virgin plastics have become more competitive against their recycled counterparts. The segment also indicated a strong U.S. dollar is reducing demand in China for U.S. recovered paper.

“I don’t think crisis is too strong of a word in the recycling industry throughout the U.S.,” Waste Management CEO David Steiner was quoted as saying in the report.

In another report, NPR took a critical look at single-stream recycling collection, noting that contamination in single-stream recycling can lead to higher residue rates.

“In terms of preserving the quality of materials so that the maximum materials collected can actually be recycled, single-stream is one of the worst options,” Susan Collins, director of the Container Recycling Institute, told NPR.

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Key EPA official to keynote SMM Summit

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 07:35
Key EPA official to keynote SMM Summit

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

April 7, 2015

The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) announced this week U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus will provide the keynote address for the upcoming National Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Summit, to be held May 12 and 13, at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Stanislaus heads EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, leading the agency’s land cleanup, solid waste and emergency response programs. He will anchor the event by defining SMM and providing a foundation for the national policy discussions of the Summit.

NRC also added two webinars, one slated for April 23 and another April 29, to its “Recyclers Guide to Sustainable Materials Management” series to help prepare participants of the SMM Summit for the stakeholder dialogue.

The SMM Summit is led by the NRC in partnership with the Syracuse University Center for Sustainable Community Solutions and University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center, and it is supported by ISRI, Starbucks, the Steel Recycling Institute, Re-TRAC Connect, SCS Engineers, and SMART Recycling of South Carolina LLC. Resource Recycling, Inc. is a promotional partner for the event.

The Summit is taking place May 12-13 at the College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in College Park, Maryland. Complete information on the summit is available here. Hotel reservations should be made by April 12 to ensure the discounted group rate.

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Grant watch

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 07:33
Grant watch

April 7, 2015

Three colleges in New York State have received grants ranging from $800 to $1,000 each to help with their on-campus reduction, reuse and recycling efforts. The New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling awarded grants to the University at Albany for its recycling infrastructure improvement project, Sullivan County Community College for its food waste management awareness campaign and Stony Brook University for its scientific equipment reuse program benefitting a partner institution in Kenya.

California state government has awarded a total of $2.86 million in recycling grants to 18 organizations over the next two years. The largest awards from the Beverage Container Recycling Grant Program totaled $250,000 and the smallest totaled $50,000. The awards implement beverage container recycling programs through education and outreach. They also help awardees purchase and/or install beverage container recycling bins and, in some cases, expand current collection in underserved areas.

A plastics recycling company in Missouri will receive a loan to expand operations, one of $31 million in grants and loans distributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Bolckow, Missouri-based DMR Plastics will receive a $200,000 loan to expand its business. The funding was distributed by the USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program.

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NewsBits

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 07:30
NewsBits

April 7, 2015

The West Coast ports labor dispute that hampered recyclable material exports cost U.S. workers jobs, the president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries wrote to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Robin Wiener also wrote that the prolonged disruptions to U.S. scrap export shipments could cause permanent damage if overseas customers lose confidence in the U.S.’s ability to reliably deliver scrap.

The Wall Street Journal writes about how the fall in oil prices are hurting plastic recycling companies by driving down the prices of virgin plastics. For example, at the start of 2015, virgin PET sold for 83 cents a pound, 15 percent higher than recycled PET. In late March, virgin PET dropped to 67 cents a pound, or 7 percent less than recycled PET.

Recycling advocates in Wisconsin are pushing back against proposed cuts to state funds providing recycling assistance to local governments. The proposed cuts total more than $4 million.

Tom’s of Maine and recycling company TerraCycle have teamed up to launch a toy-recycling program. Through the program, parents can obtain a free Toy Recycling Box with prepaid shipping label. Items including dolls and board game pieces can be mailed to TerraCycle, a company that specializes in recycling difficult-to-process items.

In the public’s mind, Earth Day is now more about recycling specifically than it is about air and water pollution in general, according to a survey commissioned by ecoATM. Forty-seven percent of Americans associate Earth Day with recycling, while only 23 percent associate it with cleaning up local parks or beaches, the survey showed.

Consumers are less likely to recycle paper when it’s crumpled or cut, according to a study. But consumers are more apt to divert paper in any form if labels or signage let them know it is recyclable even when it's crumpled.  

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