Resource Recycling Magazine

Updated: 11 hours 40 min ago

Resource Recycling Conference 2014: Just a week away

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:58
Resource Recycling Conference 2014: Just a week away

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 10, 2014

If you haven't signed up for the best meeting of the minds in recycling, the time to act is now. The Resource Recycling Conference kicks off next Monday, Sept. 15.

This year's conference is taking place in New Orleans and offers attendees a jambalaya of networking opportunities and educational events. The second annual Recycling Innovators Forum, the trade show hall, the sessions covering the biggest industry trends — it's all part of the conference experience.

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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Rhode Island takes on contaminated loads

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:54
Rhode Island takes on contaminated loads

By Dan Leif, Resource Recycling

Sept. 10, 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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Recyclebank celebrates a decade

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:50
Recyclebank celebrates a decade

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 10, 2014

Recycling rewards company Recyclebank has hit its 10-year anniversary.

Founded in 2004 by Ron Gonen, now the CEO of the Closed Loop Fund, Recyclebank has worked with roughly 300 communities to collect upwards of 5.8 billion pounds of material for recycling.

"Recyclebank was developed to change the way we think about sustainability and recycling. We believe that personal actions can and do make a big difference, that people prefer the carrot over the stick when it comes sustainability," said Javier Flaim, Recyclebank's CEO, in a press release. "Our 10-year anniversary is not just a celebration for Recyclebank, but a celebration for those communities, brands and partners who have worked tirelessly to truly make an impact on local recycling rates and, ultimately, pave the way for a greener future."

The company, which started as a program to provide incentives for communities and individuals to increase collection of recyclables through advanced tracking and data technology, has expanded over the years. Just recently, the company launched its own online store, OneTwine.com, where residents can purchase sustainability-minded goods.

According to the latest data from Recyclebank, 2013 saw partnerships across the country lead to 1.5 billion pounds of material getting collected and recycled. That haul accounts for just over 25 percent of the company's all-time collection totals.

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2014 Recycling Innovators Forum: See the finalists make their pitches

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:48
2014 Recycling Innovators Forum: See the finalists make their pitches

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 10, 2014

The organizers of the 2014 Recycling Innovators Forum have identified the eight proposals that are moving on to the final presentation stage as they compete for a combined $40,000 in cash prizes and valuable industry exposure.

Complete information on each of the concepts and the individuals behind them can be found here. The competition is divided into two categories — Enterprise/Institution for entries that came from a larger company and group and Garage Innovator for proposals from small startups and teams — and four finalists were selected on each side. The second annual competition received more than 60 proposals.

The final presentation round will take place the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 15 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside during the first day of the Resource Recycling Conference. The event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception where all Innovators Forum presenters will be on hand to answer questions and develop industry contacts.

To learn more and register for the Forum for free, click here.

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NewsBits

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 12:40
NewsBits

Sept. 10, 2014

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.

Targeting "young people with empty cans and empty wallets" at music festivals in Sweden, McDonald's has begun accepting emptied containers in exchange for food. Armed with black recycling bags, consumers can now trade in 10 cans for either a hamburger or cheeseburger at select McDonalds restaurants in Sweden. Want a Big Mac? That'll cost you 40 cans.

Approximately 43 billion packages manufactured by Tetra Pak were recycled worldwide in 2013, the packaging and food service company has announced. Tetra Pak, which employs more than 23,000 people and supplies to more than 170 countries, recently released its 2014 Sustainability Updateand the document is available online.

Recycling fines are up 47 percent in New York City, the New York Post has reported. Those fines, which totaled 56,000 citywide during the first half of 2014, are likely connected to the city's April 2013 inclusion of rigid plastics in its recycling program – any rigid plastic found in trash bags is considered a punishable a violation of the city's recycling law.

Vermont's Universal Recycling Law may target increased recycling and composting in the state, but at least one municipality is considering doing away with its longtime curbside recycling program because of it. The town of Middlebury, Vermont, which has had curbside recycling since 1990, is weighing a handful of options that will either expand the service – meeting the requirements of the law – or let curbside be handled entirely by the private sector.

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Bill Caesar leaves Waste Management

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 10:27
Bill Caesar leaves Waste Management

By Bobby Elliott and Dan Leif, Resource Recycling

Sept. 4, 2014

Waste Management's top recycling executive is parting ways with the firm after a tenure that saw early financial gains and late hurdles.

Bill Caesar, president of WM Recycle America and WM Organic Growth, is leaving the company this month, a Waste Management representative told Resource Recycling. The move is tied to a corporate reorganization publicly traded 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 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 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, and it has not 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, which rewards "inventors and innovative organizations with game-changing ideas on how to advance recycling." [Ed: Resource Recycling's parent company, Resource Recycling, Inc. is also a founding sponsor.]

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California passes historic bag ban

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 11:02
California passes historic bag ban

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Sept. 3, 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 wand 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 initially shot 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.

"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.

As part of the bill, local ordinances already passed will remain intact and in effect, while the state law will target the remaining two thirds of California's population without a ban in place.

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Resource Recycling Conference 2014: The Closed Loop Fund

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 10:59
Resource Recycling Conference 2014: The Closed Loop Fund

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 3, 2014

The groundbreaking Closed Loop Fund is headlined by Walmart and aims to invest $100 million in recycling infrastructure projects. The goal is to spur private and public funding for transforming the recycling system in the U.S.

Ron Gonen, RecycleBank founder and former New York City recycling czar, is a co-founder and CEO of the Fund, and he'll take the stage at the upcoming Resource Recycling Conference to talk about the Fund's big plans.

In his presentation, Gonen will elaborate on how the Fund hopes to drive recycling to the next level through innovative financing models, explain why infrastructure and scale are necessary to make projects economically feasible, and explore in-depth the link between demand, markets, recycled content and consumer behavior.

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

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Waste Management announces cuts

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 10:57
Waste Management announces cuts

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Sept. 3, 2014

Waste Management has initiated a "voluntary staff reduction plan" and sources say the move will not spare the company's recycling wing.

The country's largest waste and recycling company notified staff of the plans in a letter dated Aug. 22, stating severance packages would be made available to those employees who choose to leave the company.

Toni Beck, WM's lead company spokesperson, said the move was part reorganization at the publicly traded firm.

"This realignment is focused on ensuring our corporate functions are clearly aligned with the strategic priorities of the company," Beck said in a statement sent to Resource Recycling. "Unfortunately, this realignment means some positions will be eliminated, so we are being as fair as we can be and offering employees in the corporate functions an enhanced separation package to voluntarily leave the company."

While Beck said division-specific impacts were not yet known, sources have indicated that the recycling division at Waste Management will be reshuffled as a result of the cuts.

Little is known as to the extent of the cuts or when they are likely to occur. The Houston-based firm made a similar announcement in 2012, and approximately 800 jobs were cut, according to reporting by the Houston Business Journal.

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Houston leader says dirty MRF not definite

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 10:54
Houston leader says dirty MRF not definite

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 3, 2014

Houston may not ultimately implement its controversial One Bin for All system, a plan that calls for residents to toss garbage and recyclables in a single curbside cart for later sortation.

Speaking on a panel at last week's WasteCon conference in Grapevine, Texas, Houston's director of solid waste said the city remains "in the midst of evaluation," and he said Houston continues to move forward on a separate, single-stream recycling collection rollout that would be bolstered if the city decides to table the one-bin approach.

"We know the technology is out there [for one-bin sorting], and we know there are concerns in the market about the quality of the material," said Harry Hayes, Houston's chief operating officer and solid waste chief. "That is going to play into the decision. If it's one-bin or advancing single-stream, we will grow recycling in Houston."

Houston's consideration of a one-bin system has grabbed the attention of many industry members over the last two years. If such a plan does become a reality, Houston will be by far the largest municipality in North America to adopt the all-in-one strategy and would follow in the footsteps of Indianapolis and Montgomery, Alabama.

Houston is the nation's fourth largest city, and Hayes said the city provides solid waste service to 423,000 households.

In March of 2013, Houston was awarded $1 million from the Bloomberg Development Mayors Challenge to move ahead on the one-bin initiative, which would necessitate a materials recovery facility that can separate recyclable materials from waste. Such facilities are sometimes called dirty MRFs.

In July of this year, the city announced it had closed a request for proposals period for One Bin for All and noted it had received five bids from entities interested in helming the program.

In his remarks last week, however, Hayes said the city is not obligated to choose any of the proposals, and he said he and his staff see themselves as general investigators of the feasibility and economic viability of the single-bin approach. The knowledge they glean in the process, he said, could be shared with other municipalities mulling their own options.

"Whether our city goes to one-bin or not, we will put together the key decision points everyone else will use," he said. "There's an unbelievable amount of work we've done. The bedrock will be there for all solid waste systems around the country."

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Madison shelves anaerobic digester plan

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 10:51
Madison shelves anaerobic digester plan

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Sept. 3, 2014

Madison, Wisconsin has put a halt on an initiative to bring food scrap collection to all city residents.

Since 2011, a food scrap collection pilot project 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 digester was too costly to focus on this year, with other competing items taking a front seat.

"The mayor has decided he will delay the program at least a year," George Dreckmann, the city's recycling coordinator, said. "In our conversations during our budget discussions he indicated that he did not think we could afford building a digester for the next five years unless there was some money from other sources."

While contamination issues arose during the pilot program, Dreckmann said the mayor's decision was "strictly financial" and that initial food composting in Madison "showed this is going to work."

With construction set aside for an indefinite period of time, the city has also decided to halt its pilot program at the end of this month. 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 was set to begin in 2015, with construction of the facility commencing in 2016 and citywide service starting sometime in 2017.

The city will continue to run a separate collection program for yard debris and leaves.

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Grant watch

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 10:48
Grant watch

Sept. 3, 2014

Thanks to a $213,606 grant from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, residents of Tuscaloosa, Alabama will be able to recycle glass curbside starting next year. Adding a glass shredder at the local recycling plant has been high on the city's list of recycling priorities for almost 15 years, so when the 2014 grant came through, a good chunk of it was used to fund the equipment upgrade. Previously all glass went to landfill due to the distance between Tuscaloosa and the nearest glass recycling plant.

The New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling has announced 2014 grants of up to $1,000 for local college and university recycling efforts in New York state. The application deadline is Oct. 3, and grants are available for projects aimed at "initiating, improving, or expanding source reduction, reuse, or recycling programs on campus," a press release states. It is the second consecutive year the grants have been given out by the association.

Morehead State University has been awarded a 2014 Coca-Cola/Keep America Beautiful Recycling Bin Grant. The grant will go toward outfitting all collegiate athletic facilities on Morehead's campus with 25 recycling bins. It is the ninth year Coca-Cola and KAB have collaborated on the bin grant program — this year alone will see 4,500 bins installed on campuses throughout the country.

For more information on these or any patents, please consult the U.S. Patent Office database online.

Copies of patents can be ordered by number for $3 each from the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA, 22313-1450.

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2014 Recycling Innovators Forum: Judges announced

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 10:45
2014 Recycling Innovators Forum: Judges announced

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

Sept. 3, 2014

The slate of judges has been finalized for the second annual Recycling Innovators Forum, which will be co-located with the Resource Recycling Conference in New Orleans in less than two weeks.

All judges for this year's forum have deep ties to the recycling industry, and they will be responsible for deciding which two bright ideas will be awarded a combined $40,000 in funding. The judges will hear eight presentations total in the final round of the competition, which is open to the public and will be held Sept. 15 at 1:00 p.m.

The following experts will make up the judging panel: Robert Bylone, Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center; Stacy Katz, Waste Management; Norm Lisson, Coca-Cola Recycling; Scott Mouw, North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service; Will Sagar, Southeast Recycling Development Council; and Jon Stephens, Avangard Innovative.

The 2014 Recycling Innovators Forum will take place the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 15 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside during the first day of the Resource Recycling Conference. The event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception where judges and Innovators Forum presenters will be on hand to answer questions and develop industry contacts.

To learn more and register for the Forum, click here.

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NewsBits

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 10:39
NewsBits

Sept. 3, 2014

Officials in St. Paul, Minnesota appear determined to hear bids next year from firms and groups interestested in taking over city's trash and single-stream recycling program. St. Paul has been at a a standstill with longtime service provider Eureka Recycling in recent months due to stagnant recycling rates and, according to the city, significant residential fee increases. For its part, Eureka says its latest offer was far more reasonable than the city has been willing to admit.

Research from the National Center for Atmospheric Research suggests that more than 40 percent of the world's trash is burned each year. That approach to waste management, research authors say, is causing the release of a emissions significantly contributing to climate change, with past emissions estimates falling 10 to 40 percent shy of reality.

The industry-backed Carton Council has released a new study on the impact of recycling policies on driving recycling rates nationwide. Taking a look at three basic approaches — recycling policies, disposal bans and pay-as-you-throw service fees — the group found that the best approach varies by community, with each approach proving valuable when employed properly and well-matched with a given area and population.

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