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The Latest Trends on Hard-to-recycle Items

Episode 38: This podcast episode brings listeners a People’s Choice Session from WasteExpo 2019.
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In the latest episode of our NothingWasted! Podcast, we bring you a dynamic People’s Choice Session from WasteExpo 2019: “The Latest Trends on Hard to Recycle Items.” The discussion features Walter Alcorn, vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability for the Consumer Technology Association; Brett Stevens, global vice president of material sales and procurement for TerraCycle; and Kelly Cramer, lead of How2Recycling and director of program management for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. 

Here’s a sneak peek into some of the speakers’ insights:

Walter Alcorn: Some of these electronics, especially historically, are tough to recycle; CRT [cathode-ray tub] televisions and monitors are a drag—they have leaded glass in the tubes, which is very difficult to separate out. But the good news is that we’re seeing less amounts of lead in the newer products; mercury has also gone away now that the CCFL/LCD [cold cathode fluorescent lamp/liquid crystal display, respectively] era is over … Roughly a quarter of U.S. households still have at least one CRT television or monitor, and that’s one thing that causes the entire stream of consumer electronics to be underwater economically. It costs more to recycle those electronics than you can get on the back end as far as revenue. Collection is also a huge challenge.

Kelly Cramer: How is the consumer going to experience this package? We can’t ask people to do surgery on their packaging. So, we have to have a common-sense perspective, but we also have to think about the consistency of every label compared to those that have been issued in the past and will be issued in the future.

Brett Stevens: Our business model is based on three key pillars: to make everything recyclable, by which brands fund the collection and recycling of items—and we work with lots of CPG [consumer packaged goods] companies around the world to do just that; to get brands to make their packaging or products from recycled materials; and, finally, our newest program, which is convincing brands to rethink the design of their packaging entirely—to shift to a durable, reusable model.

Listen to the full episode below and more episodes here.

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