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Articles from 2006 In October

Denver completes roll out of expanded recycling program

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper announced yesterday that the city had completed the expansion of its residential recycling service a full three years ahead of schedule. According to the Cherry Creek News, the expanded Denver Recycles program consists of three components: the addition of seven new recyclable materials, single-stream processing and the distribution of large, wheeled recycling carts to replace the smaller bins residents had been using.

“These programmatic enhancements have made it easier for residents to recycle and, to date, we’ve seen a 24 percent increase in the amount of recyclables collected,” said Hickenlooper in a public statement, adding that Denver residents should support an environmentally sustainable community by participating in the recycling program.

Illinois governor issues e-waste mandate

Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has issued an executive order instructing state agencies to recycle electronic equipment at the end of its useful life. The order, signed today, applies to all state agencies, boards and commissions under the governor's control. According to the publication Government Technology, the order was precipitated by research and recommendations from the Computer Equipment Disposal and Recycling Commission, established in 2005.

"By directing state agencies to be more responsible with potentially toxic electronic waste, we can ensure that state government is doing what it can to keep our land and water clean, and people safe," said Blagojevich in a statement, adding, "Industries and households across Illinois also dispose of outdated or broken electronic equipment. We should make sure they are not putting the public in harm's way when they dispose of their electronics. I will urge the General Assembly to build on the efforts of my administration by adopting statewide electronics recycling legislation."

Dell unveils computer recycling service in China

Dell Computer announced today that it will begin offering no-charge computer recycling services to customers in Hong Kong and China by the end of November. According to a Dell press release, the program will accept all Dell-branded products and will not require a replacement purchase.

“We want to make recycling easy for our customers in China, and Dell is committed to recycling what we make and sell,” said Dell CEO Kevin Rollins in a statement. “We encourage every manufacturer in our industry to join us in providing responsible recycling in China.”

Veolia commissions landfill gas project in Alabama

Veolia Environmental Services (VES) has announced that it will use methane from its Star Ridge Landfill in Moody, Ala. to power nearby brick kilns owned by Jenkins Brick. According to a press release, landfill gas will initially provide 45 percent of Jenkins Brick’s energy demands, but is expected to eventually provide 80-90 percent of the facility’s energy needs as more gas is collected from the landfill.

“Being able to turn methane gas from the landfill, which is currently being burned or flared off, into a viable energy source is beneficial not only for industry, but for the environment as well,” said Scott Corley, VES area manager for Alabama, in the press release.

VES invested approximately $280,000 to retrofit its gas system for the Jenkins Brick project, which was initiated in July 2004.

U.S. recycling more according to EPA

New data released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that, including composting, the U.S. recycled 32 percent of its waste in 2005, up 2 percent from 2004 and doubling the percentage recycled in 1990. The numbers were revealed in a speech delivered today by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson at the National Recycling Coalition Conference in Atlanta.

The report contained good news on the trash front as well, with 246 million tons of municipal solid waste generated in 2005, a decrease of nearly 2 million tons from 2004. This drop was attributed in part to a 1.5 percent decrease in individual waste generation.

Other information revealed in the report:

- Container and packaging recycling increased to 40 percent.

- Nearly 62 percent of yard waste was composted.

- About 42 million tons of paper were recycled in 2005—a 50 percent recycling rate.

For a summary of the report, visit http://www.epa.gov/msw/msw99.htm

Coalition of recycling interests calls for moratorium on PLA

A group of recycling companies and research organizations has issued a call for an embargo on polylactic acid or PLA, a bio-based plastic developed by NatureWorks. The plastic resin is made from corn, and the company claims it is compostable, making it ideal for use in plastic serviceware, which is not usually recycled. But PLA is also being developed for other applications, like bottles. Members of the coalition are concerned that the material has not been sufficiently tested for recyclability and could be detrimental to the recycling systems designed for Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), the dominant plastic used in recyclable bottles.

“No recycling infrastructure exists for plastic cutlery, plates, and cups,” says Brenda Platt of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, in a press release about the coalition. “We want bio-based companies to focus on replacing nonrecyclable disposable plastic products such as polystyrene. Stay away from bottles, which have a well-established recycling system.”

Members of the coalition include Eco-Cycle (Colo.), Eureka Recycling (Minn.), Ecology Center (Calif.), the Plastic Redesign Project (multi-state), the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (D.C.), the Center for a Competitive Waste Industry (Wis.) and the GrassRoots Recycling Network (Calif.).

Mack cuts workforce

Mack Trucks announced today that it would eliminate 450 jobs over the next six months at its truck assembly plant in Macungie, Pa. The company blamed the cuts on the more stringent U.S. EPA emissions standards taking effect on Jan. 1, 2007, which it anticipates will lead to reduced demand for trucks industry-wide.

“We very much regret the impact this action will have on our employees, their families and our local community,” said Mack President and CEO Paul L. Vikner in a statement. “But these reductions are essential to the responsible management of our business through the downturn. Right now, our focus is on developing our plans to assist affected employees.”

CEA calls for national electronics recycling solution

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), citing the results of a study released by the National Electronics Recycling Information Clearinghouse (NERIC), is calling for a formalized, nationwide approach to the recycling of electronics. Entitled "A Study of the State-by-State E-Waste Patchwork," the report identifies a projected $25 million in recurring annual costs or a total of $224 million that will be spent by consumers, state governments and industry in next eight years – an expenditure, the report postulates, that could be avoided if national standards were in place.

"This study clearly illustrates the need for a national solution to electronics recycling as an alternative to state-by-state mandates,” said Parker Brugge, CEA senior director and environmental counsel, in a press release. “The projected $224 million to be spent through 2012 should be used to recycle hundreds of millions of pounds of electronics, not squandered on state-level non-recycling costs, such as policing out-of-state electronics, engaging in dozens of state legislative and study initiatives, complying with multiple and divergent state requirements, and administering duplicative state programs. We look forward to working with Congress and other interested parties toward our goal of a national solution for e-cycling."

To view the NERIC report, visit www.ecyclingresource.org. For more information about the CEA, visit www.CE.org.

EPA unveils new grants to encourage methane energy solutions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is soliciting proposals for projects that support the Methane to Markets Partnership. The partnership is an international initiative to reduce global methane emissions by promoting methane capture-and-use projects in four major sectors including agriculture (animal waste management), coal mining, landfills and oil and gas systems.

According to an EPA press release, the agency will distribute a total of $2.5 million through the program, divided between as many as 20 projects. Proposals can support the partnership broadly or focus on developing a specific market. EPA will accept proposals from international governments, as well as public or private non-profit organizations. The deadline for proposals is 4 p.m. EST, Dec. 4, 2006. For proposal criteria, contacts and other information, visit www.epa.gov/methanetomarkets/activities.htm. www.epa.gov/methanetomarkets/activities.htm.