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Need to Know

More Michigan Households Can Now Recycle Takeout Packaging

More Michigan Households Can Now Recycle Takeout Packaging

Kent County, Mich., recently became the first Michigan community and sixth nationally to receive an education grant from the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) to increase awareness of recycling clean and empty cups and takeout food containers.

Kent County will use its FPI Community Partnership education grant to raise resident awareness about what can and cannot be recycled. In addition to paper, cardboard, metals, glass and cartons, Kent County residents can recycle clean and empty plastic cups and containers and pizza boxes.

“Kent County is committed to reducing landfill waste by 90 percent by 2030,” said Kristen Wieland, communications and marketing manager for Kent County Department of Public Works, in a statement. “FPI’s grant helps us educate our community to participate in recycling at home, including clean pizza boxes and plastic cups and containers.”

In a recent survey of more than 2,100 Kent County residents, 38 percent of respondents said their motivation to recycle is because it is good for the planet and to keep plastics and other materials out of oceans. About a quarter of the respondents said keeping material out of landfills was their motivation to recycle.

“We’ve learned that most residents across Michigan and the entire nation want to recycle the takeout items they use frequently,” said Natha Dempsey, vice president of FPI, in a statement. “FPI is pleased to partner with Kent County so its 309,500 households may now recycle these items.”

FPI’s grant to Kent County was announced at a joint press conference with Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). The department has devoted about $450,000 to assist recycling and recovery in West Michigan. “We were excited and humbled to present our grant alongside EGLE’s,” said Dempsey. “FPI members employ nearly 4,000 Michiganders with a total payroll of more than $250 million.”

In addition to Kent County, FPI Community Partners include Washington, D.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Louisville, Ky.; Denver; and Millennium Recycling in Sioux Falls, S.D. These communities received education grant assistance, communications resources and/or technical assistance from FPI as they expanded their recycling programs to include foodservice packaging. In each of the communities, the outreach campaigns reminded residents not only what to recycle but that only clean and empty items should be recycled. As a result, community partners have seen quality recyclables increase and contamination decrease.

Need to Know

More Michigan Households Can Now Recycle Takeout Packaging

More Michigan Households Can Now Recycle Takeout Packaging

Kent County, Mich., recently became the first Michigan community and sixth nationally to receive an education grant from the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) to increase awareness of recycling clean and empty cups and takeout food containers.

Kent County will use its FPI Community Partnership education grant to raise resident awareness about what can and cannot be recycled. In addition to paper, cardboard, metals, glass and cartons, Kent County residents can recycle clean and empty plastic cups and containers and pizza boxes.

“Kent County is committed to reducing landfill waste by 90 percent by 2030,” said Kristen Wieland, communications and marketing manager for Kent County Department of Public Works, in a statement. “FPI’s grant helps us educate our community to participate in recycling at home, including clean pizza boxes and plastic cups and containers.”

In a recent survey of more than 2,100 Kent County residents, 38 percent of respondents said their motivation to recycle is because it is good for the planet and to keep plastics and other materials out of oceans. About a quarter of the respondents said keeping material out of landfills was their motivation to recycle.

“We’ve learned that most residents across Michigan and the entire nation want to recycle the takeout items they use frequently,” said Natha Dempsey, vice president of FPI, in a statement. “FPI is pleased to partner with Kent County so its 309,500 households may now recycle these items.”

FPI’s grant to Kent County was announced at a joint press conference with Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). The department has devoted about $450,000 to assist recycling and recovery in West Michigan. “We were excited and humbled to present our grant alongside EGLE’s,” said Dempsey. “FPI members employ nearly 4,000 Michiganders with a total payroll of more than $250 million.”

In addition to Kent County, FPI Community Partners include Washington, D.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Louisville, Ky.; Denver; and Millennium Recycling in Sioux Falls, S.D. These communities received education grant assistance, communications resources and/or technical assistance from FPI as they expanded their recycling programs to include foodservice packaging. In each of the communities, the outreach campaigns reminded residents not only what to recycle but that only clean and empty items should be recycled. As a result, community partners have seen quality recyclables increase and contamination decrease.

Need to Know

RePower South Now Accepts Charleston County, S.C., Recyclables

RePower South LinkedIn RePower South Now Accepts Charleston County, S.C., Recyclables

South Carolina-based RePower South (RPS) has begun accepting single stream recyclables from Charleston County, S.C., at its Berkeley County Recycling and Recovery Facility. RPS offers a cost-effective recycling and landfill diversion solution that expands recycling recovery across the entire waste stream and produces a low carbon, renewable fuel.  

“We are grateful the counties were able to come together to benefit the broader Lowcountry community,” said RPS CEO Brian Gilhuly in a statement. “Similar recycling programs across the country are struggling, and Charleston was no exception. RePower South’s Berkeley facility is the most advanced recycling and recovery facility in the nation, and we are thrilled to serve Berkeley and Charleston County businesses and residents in their mission to recycle more and landfill less.”

The RPS Berkeley facility opened in April and uses state-of-the-art systems to process both source-segregated recyclable materials and everyday waste. In today’s commodity markets, many communities are struggling to offer sustainable recycling and landfill diversion options to their businesses and residents. RPS tailors its programs to community objectives to cost effectively recycle more and keep waste out of the landfill. RPS’ approach enables Berkeley and Charleston Counties to do what is environmentally friendly, demonstrating flexibility and community commitment.

“Greater recycling, less landfilling and cleaner air is good for the Lowcountry, our state and our nation,” said Gilhuly.

Need to Know

RePower South Now Accepts Charleston County, S.C., Recyclables

RePower South LinkedIn RePower South Now Accepts Charleston County, S.C., Recyclables

South Carolina-based RePower South (RPS) has begun accepting single stream recyclables from Charleston County, S.C., at its Berkeley County Recycling and Recovery Facility. RPS offers a cost-effective recycling and landfill diversion solution that expands recycling recovery across the entire waste stream and produces a low carbon, renewable fuel.  

“We are grateful the counties were able to come together to benefit the broader Lowcountry community,” said RPS CEO Brian Gilhuly in a statement. “Similar recycling programs across the country are struggling, and Charleston was no exception. RePower South’s Berkeley facility is the most advanced recycling and recovery facility in the nation, and we are thrilled to serve Berkeley and Charleston County businesses and residents in their mission to recycle more and landfill less.”

The RPS Berkeley facility opened in April and uses state-of-the-art systems to process both source-segregated recyclable materials and everyday waste. In today’s commodity markets, many communities are struggling to offer sustainable recycling and landfill diversion options to their businesses and residents. RPS tailors its programs to community objectives to cost effectively recycle more and keep waste out of the landfill. RPS’ approach enables Berkeley and Charleston Counties to do what is environmentally friendly, demonstrating flexibility and community commitment.

“Greater recycling, less landfilling and cleaner air is good for the Lowcountry, our state and our nation,” said Gilhuly.

Need to Know

J.P. Mascaro Participates in MRFF Plastics Recycling Initiative

J.P. Mascaro & Sons LinkedIn J.P. Mascaro Participates in MRFF Plastics Recycling Initiative

This fall, Pennsylvania-based J.P. Mascaro’s TotalRecycle facility is recycling flexible plastics as part of the Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) pilot program.

A few years ago, the American Chemistry Council launched the MRFF initiative to research the recyclability of flexible plastic packaging. And roughly two years ago, J.P. Mascaro & Sons learned about the MRFF initiative and nominated its materials recovery facility (MRF) for the program.

Recycling Today reports that the MRFF initiative ended up selecting the company’s TotalRecycle MRF for its pilot program, which “fit the goal of the pilot project really well because it’s a ‘large, high-speed and automated MRF.’” The TotalRecycle MRF opened in January 2016 and handles about 12,000 tons of material per month at full capacity. The company also had an interest in trying to recover flexible plastic packaging to make “rFlex” bales. 

Recycling Today has more:

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is about two times more prevalent in packaging materials than polyethylene terephthalate (PET), according to Susan Graff, principal and vice president of global corporate sustainability at Resource Recycling Systems (RRS), Ann Arbor, Michigan. She says the U.S. generates about 12 million pounds of flexible plastics per year.

However, LDPE faces more challenges than PET in terms of its recyclability.

“Right now, the markets are telling us that this material doesn’t have value,” Graff says. “However, we know in other parts of the world, like Europe and Australia, there are companies using this material to make all kinds of building materials and infrastructure materials. So, we know this material has value to those markets. It’s just in the U.S., where we were really dependent on China forever, now since China’s market has disappeared, we don’t have the domestic markets to say we want this material.”

Read the full article here.

Need to Know

SKM Recycling Financial Officer Sentenced for Swindling

SKM Recycling Financial Officer Sentenced for Swindling

Delwyn Burgess, a financial officer for Australia-based SKM Recycling, has been sentenced to six months in prison for siphoning off $168,000 from the company into personal accounts.

In addition to her prison sentence, Burgess has been ordered to do 300 hours worth of community work and will have to go through a community corrections order that will last two years, according to CryptoNewsZ. The report also notes that Burgess had made as many as 98 payments to her personal account but recorded them as payments that had been made to a total of 25 employees at the company.

In July, SKM announced it was in financial crisis and stopped accepting recycled materials from 30 area councils.

CryptoNewsZ has more information:

In a new development that will come as a shock for Australian businesses, an employee of SKM Recycling has been jailed for having swindled $168,000 from the company. The employee in question, Delwyn Burgess siphoned off company money and then transferred it to personal accounts. She was employed as a financial officer at the company and has now been sentenced to a 6 months jail term by the authorities. The Melbourne Country Court also stated that Burgess will have to do 300 hours’ worth of community work and will have to go through a community corrections order that will last for two years.

Read the full article here.

Why USA Hauling & Recycling Went to Solar at its CNG Fueling Station

Why USA Hauling & Recycling Went to Solar at its CNG Fueling Station

USA Hauling & Recycling has historically prioritized energy conservation and protecting the environment in its business operations. But when the Enfield, Conn.-based company decided to switch from diesel to a cleaner compressed natural gas (CNG) for its trucks, it meant finding a new way to balance both priorities: energy conservation and environmental stewardship. That’s because the units that compress this alternative fuel are huge energy consumers.

So, management decided to install solar to power those compressors at its East Windsor CNG fueling station.

“Our first approach around environmental impact was converting most of our 300 trucks to natural gas. Running natural gas compressors is energy intensive, so if you want the most environmentally friendly fleet, you must look for opportunities to offset that electricity usage with alternative energy. We found solar to be the solution to offset both cost and carbon footprint,” says Frank M. Antonacci, chief operating officer of USA Hauling & Recycling.

Five-hundred kilowatts (kW) that otherwise would have come from the electrical grid feed directly into the CNG compressors.

Overall, it’s a 742-kW solar array system that powers compressors that can potentially provide natural gas for 55 vehicles daily. The company also offers a quick-fill service to the public.

Solar is a long-term investment; these are 25-year-plus projects, so there were multiple considerations.  

Management wanted to know that, in doing the math, the developer accounted for increased energy costs and maintenance costs over the life of the project. The waste company researched warranty details, and it researched brands and types of panels, as they degrade at different rates.

Why USA Hauling & Recycling Went to Solar at its CNG Fueling Station

“You also have to research your market when looking at ZREC (Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credits) to see if it will pencil out. You can see the previous years’ payout to get an idea of where the market is,” says Antonacci.

ZREC is a solar incentive program in Connecticut that provides one credit for one kilowatt hour of energy. But how the program pays off varies widely. Connecticut bids were $40 to $150 per ZREC earned to subsidize projects. USA Hauling & Recycling earns about $100 per ZREC.

There’s a caveat: though project investors offset their electrical use, they have delivery charges to bring electricity to their facility, which was yet another consideration, says Antonacci.

But ZREC, charges and Connecticut’s competitive market were only part of what went into strategizing for this project. Other priorities were selecting a reliable installer and designing and building a sturdy system that fit the waste company’s operational needs. It would take two years to move from planning stages to beginning construction of the solar system that has been running since summer 2019.

“We wanted no physical obstacles. The supporting columns needed to be away from the trucks. These columns and the whole structure had to be safe and secure. And the system needed to be maneuverable for our drivers. We approached four developers, and three said that what we wanted could not be done,” says John Maulucci, USA Hauling & Recycling’s financial analyst and solar project manager.

The ultimate decision was to build one roof-mounted solar system and then to build two large truck ports with solar, as only one of two buildings had a roof that could withstand the weight of solar.

Why USA Hauling & Recycling Went to Solar at its CNG Fueling Station

USA Hauling & Recycling installed explosion-proof lighting to avoid a potential event should gas leak under the carport. And because of the large roof required to accommodate the solar array on one truck port, a special gutter system was installed to manage runoff.

“Now the trucks are under cover, which will be a big benefit in the winter here in the Northeast. We won’t have to clear off snow, and it’s safe for drivers to enter and exit vehicles on dry ground,” says Maulucci.

Earthlight Solar & Energy Solutions did the design and installation and had done other projects for the company.

“This particular project was unique because first you have these trucks going out to pick up materials to be recycled. They are running on a cleaner gas than diesel. And you leverage solar to power these energy-consuming compressors required to use this alternative fuel. So, every consideration in this operation is focused on sustainability—on diverting and recycling—but in a way to minimize carbon footprint as much as possible,” says Tim Schneider, CEO of Earthlight.

USA Hauling & Recycling also has solar installations at its corporate operations and at some of its auxiliary businesses. The waste company is in the process of installing solar to offset power at its construction and demolition recycling center in Stratford, Conn.

Shifting Markets Using Ocean-bound Plastics

In the latest episode of our NothingWasted! Podcast, we chat with Ellen Jackowski, global head of sustainability strategy and innovation at HP. She drives HP’s sustainable impact strategy and programs that focus on the planet, people and the communities that HP serves.

We spoke with Jackowski about creating sustainable supply chains, mindful product innovation, setting goals and more.

Here’s a glimpse into our chat:

Waste360: Can you tell us more about HP’s Elite Dragonfly, the world’s first notebook made with ocean-bound plastic?

Ellen Jackowski: We could not be prouder of this product. HP’s been on a mission for quite some time to continue to increase the sustainability benefits of every single product we make—and the Dragonfly is another step in our mission to create the world’s most sustainable products. The Dragonfly is the third product we’ve launched that contains ocean-bound plastic, and there are other sustainability elements built in, including the packaging itself.

Waste360: Could you describe HP’s recycling model in Haiti?

Ellen Jackowski: HP’s ink cartridges are one of the leading closed loop recycling products on the market. We’ve used more than a million PET bottles; we recycle those bottles and use that plastic in our ink cartridges. And we started thinking about how we could have more impact. We were introduced to a recycler in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with no municipal garbage collection. So, a lot of PET bottles end up on the ground and are not collected there, blowing into canals and out into the ocean. It was an opportunity for us to think about sourcing those bottles from Haiti, to create a market for that waste and also help stem the ocean plastics problem.

Waste360: What advice would you give to other companies interested in using ocean-bound plastic in their products?

Ellen Jackowski: I think the innovation for this material is only just beginning. But it’s important to think about it in the context of your entire plastic strategy. It’s not just about using ocean-bound plastic; it’s also about eliminating the use of plastic. And how can we use alternative materials? There are only certain types of plastic found en masse in the oceans, so it’s important to think about where those types can be used. And you just have to be really thoughtful.

Listen to the full interview with Jackowski below and more episodes here. Read transcript here.

Need to Know

NYC: Private Haulers Face Emissions Upgrade Deadline

Getty Images NYC: Private Haulers May Miss Emissions Upgrade Deadline

Some private trash hauling companies in New York City are up against a January 1, 2020, vehicle emissions deadline to upgrade their heavy-duty trucks with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-certified 2007 or later engine. According to a report in The City, data from the city’s Business Integrity Commission (BIC) suggests that roughly 30 percent of the 6,000 private sanitation trucks in the city don’t make the grade. Industry association, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), however, disagrees, telling Waste360 that "the BIC regulates both putrescible waste trucks and heavy construction dump trucks. In toto, these vehicles account for the 6,000 truck number in this story. Trucks in the city’s commercial putrescible carting industry only number in the 1,750 range. This fleet is well along to being fully compliant with this air emissions law—on deadline! At an oversight hearing earlier this year, NYC Sanitation Committee Chairman [Antonio] Reynoso said he was pleasantly surprised with the compliance progress of putrescible waste industry companies with the city’s truck emissions law enforced by BIC; however, he expressed concerns about the status of the other 4,250 BIC-regulated construction dump truck vehicles that were not so far along in the path to compliance. Since the adoption of this air emissions law, NWRA's NYC chapter has fully endorsed it as the standard to operate any putrescible commercial waste carting business in NYC—going forward after its full compliance effective date next year."

New York City’s vehicle emission law, also known as Local Law 145 of 2013, requires that by January 1, 2020, all “heavy-duty trade waste hauling vehicles” must be equipped with either an EPA certified 2007 (or later) engine or utilize “Best Available Retrofit Technology,” as defined by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Under the law, the BIC may exempt companies temporarily from compliance with the law based on financial hardship. To receive such an exemption, a company must apply for a financial hardship waiver.

This is a major concern for city officials and environmental advocates who maintain that the law aims to reduce the levels of unhealthy fumes emitted in certain communities. The city has also finalized a commercial waste zone bill that, in part, aims to reduce emissions.  

Carting industry representatives, however, say the law threatens to run smaller operators out of business and is a major financial burden.

The City has more information:

Hundreds of privately owned garbage trucks operating on city streets aren’t likely to make it to the finish line in time to meet new emissions requirements, data from the city’s Business Integrity Commission suggests.

Under the city’s 2013’s Local Law 145, these heavy-duty trash-hauling vehicles have until Jan. 1 to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2007 diesel emissions standards.

The city said that about 30% of nearly 6,000 private sanitation trucks don’t make the grade. Meanwhile, companies are eligible under the law to apply for “financial hardship waivers” that would extend the time they have to comply with the law.

Read the full article here.

Behind the Scenes of HP’s Tennessee Recycling Operations

HP is on a mission to achieve 30 percent recycled content in its products by 2025 and recycle 1.2 million tonnes of hardware and supplies—five times more than its previous rate. The company stressed its commitment to “sustainable impact” during a behind-the-scenes tour of its La Vergne, Tenn.-based recycling facilities for hardware and supplies.

During an October 24 Innovation for Sustainable Impact Summit in Nashville, Tenn., HP outlined its agenda for achieving its ambitious goal, as well as some of the challenges it faces.

“We set a new goal in June to use 30 percent post-consumer recycled plastic by 2025,” said Ellen Jackowski, HP’s global head of sustainability strategy and innovation, during the event. “This is a big, bold goal. We’re not exactly sure how we’re going to get there yet. Today, we are at 7 percent. So, we have quite a lot of work to do.”

Jackowski explained that in order to reach its 2025 target, HP will continue its work with key suppliers, like Sims Recycling Solutions (SRS), to collect recycled plastic and use it in its products.

HP has partnered with plastics compounder The La Vergne Group in Montreal and SRS to develop a closed loop solution for recycling printers, copiers and scanners. Historically, these devices have been difficult to recycle because they contain high percentages of flammable and non-flammable acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and polystyrene plastic. SRS has implemented advanced recycling technology to separate these plastics, which allows HP to reuse the materials in new products.

In another recycling facility, HP recycles its post-consumer ink and toner cartridges as part of its Planet Partners program. Shelley Zimmer, HP’s Americas program manager of sustainable impact, explained that the company uses more than one full truckload of recycled material every day to make its plastic ink cartridges. She added that more than 830 million cartridges have been recycled by HP and its customers since the Planet Partners program began 28 years ago. Through 2018, the HP Planet Partners program has manufactured more than 4.2 billion HP ink and toner cartridges using more than a cumulative 107,000 tonnes of recycled plastic, added Zimmer.

Additionally, HP is sourcing polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles from Haiti, where the ocean plastics pollution crisis has worsened. This, according to Jackowski, is a location where HP has switched it procurement strategy and reinvented the supply chain to tackle the problem.

“We decided to switch some of our sourcing of the PET bottle plastic, and we started hiring a group of informal collectors out of Haiti to collect those PET bottles and use them in our process,” explained Jackowski. “This has created opportunities for new jobs and is creating a market for what was recently seen as waste as now a valuable material that a company like HP is willing to pay for; it’s a job and potential for the future.”

In Haiti, HP has hired local men and women to collect black plastic and other items with less value and has partnered with a recycler there to sort and shred the materials. Additionally, the company invested $2 million in a plastic washing line in Haiti to expand its ocean-bound plastic supply chain.

Jackowski noted that via this partnership, more than 35 million bottles of ocean-bound PET plastic have been upcycled into HP ink cartridges. Earlier this year, HP also announced the world’s first notebook, the HP Elite Dragonfly, made from recycled ocean-bound plastic.

However, Jackowski pointed out, one of the major challenges to overcome is the global need for more recycling infrastructure. Because of this, HP can’t get enough recycled plastic back from consumers to make new products.

“We need to work to get better information to our customers to incentivize them to return their cartridges so we can recycle them,” she stressed. “There is not enough recycling infrastructure to generate the volumes of plastic that companies like HP are making.”

She also noted that product innovation and using plastic-alternative materials is another challenge that goes back to functionality. She added that customer preference also plays a role in what materials are used, as many consumers want white, sleeker looking appliances and printers that align with their home and office décor.  

The HP Tango Terra

During the event, HP unveiled its first printing system certified as carbon neutral. HP has ensured the entire lifecycle of Tango Terra is carbon neutral, from raw material extraction and processing, printer manufacturing and transportation to printing including electricity, paper and cartridge use.

HP Tango Terra is ENERGY STAR certified, EPEAT Gold registered and made with 30 percent closed loop recycled plastic. It is delivered in plastic-free packaging, comes with HP EcoFFICIENT Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper and HP Planet Partners provides responsible recycling for end-of-use consumer printers and HP cartridges.

In addition, the Tango Terra printer is made using 30 percent recycled plastic with 48 73 percent recycled content cartridges that include ocean-bound plastics.

Environmental attributes include:

  • Plastic-free packaging that is 100 percent curbside recyclable.
  • Reduced inbox materials by 50 percent.
  • Setup instructions are printed on the box instead of a separate piece of paper.
  • Made with 40 percent recycled content.
  • Molded pulp cushion made from 100 percent recycled content.
  • Responsible recycling of old printers and HP cartridges is included via HP Planet Partners.
  • HP’s EcoFFICIENT FSC-certified paper helps stop deforestation and protect wildlife.
  • Reduced plastic waste with Instant Ink subscription-based service, which provides a recycling envelope for HP cartridge recycling.

HP also outlined a $200 million commitment to develop water-based ink technologies for printing digitally on corrugated packaging and textiles. 

“If we continue to consume in the way that we are and at the rate that we are, we are going to need 2.3 Earths by 2050,” emphasized Jackowski. “The reality is, as we all know—unless Elon Musk is wildly successful with SpaceX—we only have one.”

Flip through this gallery for a behind-the-scenes look at HP’s recycling operations in the Nashville area and for more on the company's sustainability initiatives.