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Need to Know

Plastic Waste Bans Stall Amid COVID-19

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Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, cities and states were making progress on plastic waste bans. But after months of quarantine, dependency on single-use plastic has skyrocketed.

According to a World Wildlife Fund report, the increase in single-use plastic is projected to increase by 40 percent in the next decade.

The reliance on single-use plastic is most evident in the restaurant industry. For example, Just Salad had been producing recyclable bowls that saved more than 75,000 pounds of plastic per year and when COVID-19 hit they had to pause the program and begin using disposable packaging.

"The plastic industry seized on the pandemic as an opportunity to try to convince people that single use plastic is necessary to keep us safe, and that reusables are dirty and dangerous," said John Hocevar, ocean campaign director at Greenpeace. "The fact that neither of these things is supported by the best available science was irrelevant." 

Read the original story here.

Need to Know

Hazel Tech and PureFresh Sales Partner to Fight Food Waste

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Hazel Technologies Inc., the developer of new USDA-funded technologies to protect quality in the produce supply chain and fight food waste, and PureFresh Sales, a grower and marketer of premium California fresh fruit, have formed a partnership.

PureFresh has seen increased sales as a result of significantly lower quality claims since beginning use of Hazel Tech for select fresh fruit programs. In testing with researchers at UC-Davis, Hazel Tech helped retain favorable traits of stone fruit such as color and firmness for longer periods than control samples of fruit.

“Since implementing Hazel Tech in our programs, we have seen a 55% reduction in quality claims. This savings not only creates value for our business, but also creates value for the environment, reducing food waste and ultimately making our supply chain more sustainable long-term,” said Bill Purewal, President, PureFresh Sales.

Read the original article here.

Episode 66: Sustainable Fashion Using Food Waste

In our latest episode of NothingWasted!we chat with Isaac Nichelson, CEO & co-founder of Circular Systems. Circular Systems is a materials science company focused on the development of innovative circular and regenerative technologies, transforming waste into valuable fiber, yarn and textile fabrics for the fashion industry.

We spoke with Nichelson about the sustainable imperative in fashion, why we need to move beyond zero waste, and more.

Here are some highlights from the discussion:

Waste360: Please tell us about Circular Systems.

Nichelson: We design solutions, and we like to say that together—meaning together with our global community, we are the solution. The idea is really about creating resource efficiency and regenerative impact. This is striving for something well beyond zero impact, which has been the high bar of the sustainability movement. Zero impact is just a milestone en route to beneficial impact, which is really what we need to be achieving as a species in our habitat. Homeostasis zero might be fine if we hadn’t caused so much damage already, but we’re at a point where we have to fix things for quite a while before zero impact is enough. 

Waste360: What are some of the specific ways you work to create this regenerative impact?

Nichelson: We have three technology platforms designed to work together; synergistic technology. The first being the Agraloop, a closed-loop bio-refinery designed to convert food-crop waste into high-value textile and other industrial products while creating regenerative impact in that same community where it operates. Then there’s Texloop, which is the circularity of textile waste and pre- and post-consumer waste. So, taking those waste streams and breaking them down to fiber and building them back up again into new yarns and fabrics and useful products. And then we have Orbital Hybrid Yarns, a new spinning technology that allows us to use shorter or lower-quality recycled fibers and turn them into higher-quality and higher-performing materials, meeting or exceeding the performance of the most technical virgin materials. 

Waste360: What types of brands are you working with now?

Nichelson: Currently our biggest customers are Converse and the H&M Group. H&M is one of the most committed companies in our industry to social and environmental change, and they are really putting a ton of support into the sector. And here in California we are working with Outerknown, a very sustainable-focused brand in the surf industry. As well as with the usual suspects in our space like Patagonia, Levi’s…we’re on the long arc of development with them and a whole host of other niche brands.

Read transcript here.

#NothingWastedPodcast

Sustainability Talks

Open Farm Joins Loop to Sell Reusable Pet Food Packaging

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Open Farm Pet Food has just joined Loop, along with about 150 other brands that sell their products in reusable packaging via this online platform. The products are shipped direct to consumers; UPS picks up emptied packages and returns them to Loop to be sanitized then sent to manufacturers to reuse—sometimes upward of 100 times.

Consumers pay a deposit that’s refunded once the package is returned.

This new venture with Loop will be a good fit, surmises the Toronto-based pet food manufacturer that has in all its seven years prioritized sustainability. Doing so has taken some work; over 95% of pet food bags are considered unrecyclable.

The company’s introduction to Loop was a result of its longstanding partnership with international recycler TerraCycle, who is Loop’s parent company and who has been taking emptied pet food bags from Open Farm customers and making new products from them. In five and a half years, over 260K of the bags have been diverted from landfills through this partnership.

“We were working very closely with TerraCycle to engage in their recycling program, and when we found out about Loop, we were excited to take part in this pilot,” says Evan Shuster, vice president of Marketing for Open Farm.

Now Open Farm has one more path to sustainable packaging, which works differently.

TerraCycle works with brands to recycle single-use packaging that consumers send back to the waste management company. But the Loop pilot is about testing the feasibility of a durable packaging system where the package maintains its original form and is continually refilled. What else is different is brands sell their products exclusively through Loop’s website, and customers simply put the emptied packaging out for pick up rather than ship it themselves. 

“It is exciting for us to be a part of this pilot test and better understand how we could invest and deliver new packages to consumers,” says Shuster. 

“With its breadth of partners, Loop has scaled its platform, which we hope will enable us to learn faster than if we went with an alternative platform or built one ourselves, as Loop shares insight and knowledge its gained working with other brands,” says Shuster. 

The pet food is packed in stainless steel tins with resealable lids. Open Farm used a stock container approved and sourced from Loop but did its own design in house, and worked with a vendor, sourced by Loop, to create a tamper-proof label.

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Launching to the Loop system meant chartering new territory, mainly because the brand’s supply chain is set up to make and package products with materials tailored for its existing retail distribution outlets.

“Our first challenge was to figure out how and where to package products. The place where they were being made was not viable, so we worked with a supply chain partner who helped with packaging and labeling to ensure we could deliver a safe and consistent product to Loop … We did not initially have the technology to package and label at scale, so we had to develop processes. Then we had to work with Loop to ensure the package and label held up to transport and durability requirements as well as to the cleaning process,” says Shuster.

All along Loop was testing and providing feedback to help optimize the label design and packaging process. 

“So, communication with our supply chain partners and Loop is how we learned,” he says. 

Loop, too, has ridden a learning curve. Early on, the company began studying different consumption models to determine how waste accumulated in the first place and to try and identify models that consumers would readily adopt. Some old systems caught its interest.

“In the old models of consumption, like the milkman [delivery system], packaging was not owned by consumers but borrowed from manufacturers, and consumers put down a deposit for the container. [Brands] have since transitioned to inexpensive plastics, but we are left with empty packages. So, we decided to send packaging back to manufacturers to create a better experience for consumers,” says Ben Weir, director of Business Development and Sales Innovation for Loop.

“We strive to make the experience convenient and cost effective while bringing about sustainability of reusable products,” he says.

Loop’s current reach is the Northeastern region of the U.S. across food, beverage, personal care and home care brands.  The company will expand its offerings across seven countries over the next year, according to Weir.

“Open Farm is a long-standing TerraCycle partner, and we are thrilled to now have them on Loop. Our expansion into new areas like pet food helps us demonstrate the potential reach of the Loop platform,” says Weir.

Its newest member sees benefits that support what it’s trying to accomplish too. 

“We are passionate about animal welfare, sustainability and transparency … We always look to work with partners that share our values, like farms that are ‘Certified Humane.’ Similarly, from a sustainability perspective, this Loop partnership felt like a natural evolution to advance our mission of trying to eliminate as much waste as possible from pet food manufacturing,” says Shuster.

Need to Know

California Cracks Suspected Bottle and Can Recycling Fraud Ring

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SACRAMENTO – California agents arrested nine suspects in a move to dismantle an organized recycling fraud ring that stretched from Phoenix to Los Angeles. The multi-state network of buyers, sellers, baggers, loaders and drivers are believed to be responsible for smuggling semi-truck loads of ineligible out-of-state containers into the state for fraudulent redemption at multiple Southern California recycling centers. 

“Recycling fraud is a serious crime with real consequences for the offenders,” said CalRecycle Acting Director Ken DaRosa. “CalRecycle tackles this problem through an effective collaboration with law enforcement partners who are committed to finding those who would attempt to defraud the state.”

California’s Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act incentivizes recycling through a California Redemption Value (CRV) fee paid by California consumers at the time of purchase and refunded upon return of the empty beverage containers to state-certified recycling centers. Because the fee is not paid on beverages purchased outside the state, those containers are not eligible for CRV redemption.

“The CRV recycling program is a publicly-funded program meant to better our environment and benefit our communities,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Individuals who cheat the program cheat their fellow Californians. Losing a valuable service which reduces landfill waste is not an option. At the California Department of Justice, we continue to investigate recycling fraud and hold perpetrators accountable.”

During the months-long investigation, the defendants allegedly brought truckloads of nonredeemable material from Arizona to storage facilities and recycling centers in Southern California in order to redeem the material for money and defraud California’s CRV fund. Drivers deliberately took a long, circuitous route in order to avoid inspection by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The defendants are Raymundo Montoya, Sergio Hernandez, Ignacio Razo, Marvin Ren Amira Chali, Tomas Dominguez, Irving Dominguez Flores, Michael Dominguez, Job Robles-Pelaez, and Zayda Garcia Mejia. 

The defendants have been charged with felony recycling fraud, conspiracy, and grand theft. Additionally, the truck drivers involved may face suspension of their commercial driver’s licenses and impounding of their tractor-trailers. Upon conviction, felony recycling fraud and related crimes carry a potential sentence of six months to three years behind bars in addition to fines, court-ordered restitution, and possible loss of driver’s license and/or vehicle.

It is important to note that a criminal complaint contains charges that are only allegations against a person. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

At a Glance: California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program

Californians have recycled more than 400 billion bottles and cans since the passage of its Bottle Bill in 1986, increasing the state’s beverage container recycling rate from 52 percent in 1988 to its current rate of 75 percent. Californians recycled 18 billion of the 24 billion CRV beverage containers they purchased in 2019.

California’s Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act incentivizes people to recycle through a California Redemption Value (CRV) fee paid by California consumers at the time of purchase and refunded upon return of the empty beverage containers to CalRecycle-certified recycling centers or obligated retailers.

CalRecycle safeguards California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program through:

  • Interagency agreements with the California Department of Justice and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to combat recycling fraud, resulting in 276 arrests since 2010.
  • Enhanced precertification training of recycling center operators to ensure program compliance, including documentation requirements and enforcement of daily load limits
  • Probationary reviews and site inspections of recycling centers. 
  • Certified processor oversight measures, including load inspections of recycling center shipments.
  • Monitoring and tracking of imported material reports, submitted by anyone hauling more than 25 pounds of aluminum, bimetal, or plastic, or more than 250 pounds of glass into the state of California.
  • Internal monitoring and risk assessment of daily claims for reimbursement and post-payment reviews/investigations of Beverage Container Recycling Program participants.

Californians are encouraged to report suspected recycling fraud or bottle redemption violations to CalRecycle’s toll free number (1-800-RECYCLE) or via email at [email protected].

Need to Know

The Community Rallies Around Seniors to Deliver Food

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Seniors have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. With many of them staying home due to medical conditions, community has become incredibly important. 

Many cities including Riverdale, New York are creating clever ways to get seniors that food supplies they need. Bronx councilwoman Jessica Haller partnered with Rethink Food help deliver meals to The Riverdale Y senior center and the food pantry at Kingsbridge Center of Israel.

Rethink Food is fighting food waste with a goal to create a more sustainable food system. The team stays in touch with the community and community-based organizations to learn what services are needed. 

“We want to make sure people are getting the food because they actually need it,” said Winston Chiu, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Rethink Food.

Read the original story here.

Need to Know

Waste Pro Acquires Angie’s Disposal Service, Inc.

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CITRUS COUNTY, FL – July 3, 2020 – Effective July 1, 2020, Waste Pro has acquired Angie’s Disposal Service, Inc., based in Citrus County, Florida.

The company has been servicing approximately 4,500 customers in the area for the past four years. As part of the arrangement, Waste Pro will now provide service to those customers and welcome Angie’s employees at its facility in Hernando, FL.

“When we met the folks at Angie’s, we immediately realized they ran a like-minded business in that caring for our environment and providing excellent service are top priorities,” said Senior Vice President Keith Banasiak. “They’ve built an excellent reputation for being the best, and we look forward to continuing that. 

Customers who have questions about the transition should call (352) 726-7440.

About Waste Pro USA

Waste Pro USA, Inc. is one of the country’s fastest growing privately-owned waste collection, recycling, processing and disposal companies, operating in ten southeastern states. Waste Pro, with revenues exceeding $700 million, serves more than two million residential and 40,000 commercial customers from over 75 operating locations. Waste Pro is headquartered in Longwood, Florida, and maintains approximately 300 exclusive municipal contracts and franchises.

Media Contact: 
Ron Pecora
Chief Marketing Officer
407-937-2653

[email protected]

Need to Know

Hawaiian Groups Collects Ocean Trash for Recycling

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A nonprofit organization in Hawaii recently collected 103 tons of trash during a voyage to a huge garbage patch in the North Pacific Ocean.

The Ocean Voyages Institute’s KWAI vessel recently returned from a 48-day voyage to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch towing 206,000 pounds of trash, about twice the amount the ship and its crew had collected during their first trash collection trip last year.

Upon returning to Honolulu, the ship’s crew remained on board for 14 days to fulfill Hawaii’s COVID-19 quarantine requirement.

After each voyage, the organization divides the garbage it has collected and donates it to several companies to be recycled and converted into building materials and other products.

Read the original article here.

Worn Again Technologies Aims to Eradicate Textile Waste and Shift to a Circular Economy

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Worn Again Technologies’ unique technology has the ability to replace the use of virgin resources by recapturing raw materials from non-reusable products. The company recently secured up to €8 million in new equity capital from investors, including follow-on commitments from two of its existing strategic investors, H&M Group and Sulzer.

Waste360 wanted to learn more about the transformative technology and process, its overall impact and the company’s growth plans. Here is a look into the discussion. 

Waste360: Could you please explain your technology and its benefits?

Worn Again’s technology is a regenerative recycling process which is able to separate, decontaminate and extract polyester and cellulose (from cotton) from non-reusable textiles, polyester bottles and plastic packaging to produce dual outputs of PET pellets and cellulose pulp. 

We are focussed on solving the challenging issue of converting polyester and polycotton blended textiles, and PET plastic, at their end-of-use, back into circular raw materials. 

By keeping the world’s resources in constant circulation, we can drive economic, social and environmental benefits, enable circularity and contribute to eliminating textile and plastic waste.  

As our polymer recycling technology can deal with both pure and blends of polycotton/cellulose, this increases the proportion of suitable non-reusable textile for our process and it contributes in offering a valid solution to increase the current 1% of textile recycled today. 

The key principles of our process are to ensure that our outputs are cost competitive, comparable in quality to virgin materials, and that they have a significantly reduced environmental impact compared to conventional production.

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Waste360: What have you accomplished so far?

Worn Again Technologies was founded in 2005 with a determination to make a difference and to create a business out of solving the challenge of textiles waste. Starting in upcycling we evolved in 2012 to our current technology phase which required lots of time and efforts along the 8 years of development. 

In 2013 our founder members H&M and Kering joined the forces and later in 2017 strategic investors including H&M Group, Sulzer Chemtech (one of the world’s largest chemical engineering companies), Mexico-based Himes Corporation (a garment manufacturer) and Directex (a textiles producer), came on board and we took part of the Fashion for Good scaling programme. 

In 2018, we were awarded a grant to become the first chemical recycling technology to have Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified outputs and influential brands and partners, such as Kering, ASICS Europe, Sympatex, Dibella and Dhana joined Worn Again’s Pioneer Member Programme. 

 In 2019, we received the ANDAM Innovation Prize, the PCIAW Outstanding Contribution to the Textile Industry,  the ‘One to Watch’ at the Global Good Awards and the company’s Founder, Cyndi Rhoades, was a finalist for The Circular Economy Awards Leadership award, as well as the support of influential brands and partners, such as Kering, ASICS Europe, Sympatex, Dibella and Dhana.

In January 2020 we launched our pilot R&D facility in Redcar, UK as a major step forward in the development process and just now in June 2020, we secured €8 million investment from strategic partners. 

While we finalise our fundamental technology development through the R&D phase, we are entering in the next phase of bringing the technology to market. Our next milestone will be to build a demonstration plant in Europe. 

Waste360: This financing will help through the R&D phase, you said. What specifically do you hope to determine? And how will this financing enable your firm to grow?

The next phase will include the development and construction of a demonstration plant. Our ambition is to scale and license our technology to global plant operators as quickly as possible with the help of strategic partners and an expert team, accelerating us all towards a circular world.

We are currently working towards the next milestone in our plan by engaging potential stakeholders who are interested in building this demonstration plant with us. We aim to agree on these plans later this year and expect to start designing and building the facility in 2021. 

We are currently in discussion with potential stakeholders in the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK, all of whom we hope will be interested in taking part in our business plans moving forward.

The additional funding option of €2 million which comes later this year will provide the base financing required in the next phase of bringing the technology to market. We are looking to engage other potential stakeholders and strategic partners to support in the design and build of the demonstration plant.

Our goal is to see WATL’s technology-licensed plants globally. 

Waste360: What companies/entities are the target users of your technology?

Our future plant operators interested in buying our Circular Technology License Model could be: 

  • Engineering companies, who can adopt the Worn Again Technology process for new plants
  • Manufacturing supply chain, to purchase Worn Again Technology inputs over virgin inputs
  • Brands and retailers, to ensure their producers work with Worn Again Technology materials
  • Feedstock supply chain, to integrate ourselves as a credible option for collectors
  • Governments and cities, to adopt circular solutions for their localities

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Waste360: What types of products is this technology aimed at?

Our enhanced recycling technology has been developed to reduce the use of virgin resources by recapturing the existing end of use materials and put the regenerated raw materials back into supply chains. 

Our process outputs/products are: 

PET resin in the form of pellets, with the same chemical make-up/molecular weight as virgin PET. (These outputs will not be ‘rPET’, recycled PET by melting down bottles. They will simply be ‘PET’, equivalent to virgin PET but produced by using existing through a circular recycling process). 

Cellulosic pulp which can be introduced back into the viscose supply chain, and will be interchangeable with wood pulp, the principle raw material in viscose and lyocell production

Waste360: What challenges do you see bringing the technology to market?

As a new and transformative process, our work to create a viable solution for the market, demanding competitiveness of process and products, requires a thorough approach. Taking a technology from lab to first industrial plant demands considerable time and resources in terms of scaling up, finance raising, building a world-class team and the right partners to deliver it. 

Another key challenge is the need to join up two separate supply chains: end-of-use materials collectors, with production. Today they are linear and disconnected, but with future industrial processes like ours, we will be able to bring them together and ensure that our outputs, which have been recaptured from non-reusable products can be made back into new products as part of a continual cycle. We are working collaboratively with all relevant stakeholders to bring this solution to market, as efficiently as possible, without compromising on the quality of our outputs. 

Waste360: How will the individual strengths of H&M Group and Sulzer Chemtech benefit you?

All the investors with whom we work are market leaders. They provide a valuable pool of skills and expertise in their respective areas of the textile supply chain.

H&M have a deep knowledge and understanding of the whole textile supply chain as one of the largest retailers in the world. Given their strong commitment towards sustainability and engagement in accelerating circularity they are strategic partners in mobilizing the industry of end of use textiles. They are in good position to give us access to a wide customer base. 

Sulzer Chemtech will provide the engineering package to Worn Again plants. A leader in separation, mixing and polymerization technology, the company has been actively involved in a multitude of green and circular-economy initiatives around the world. 

Waste360: What will your proposed larger demonstration facility be able to do?

Our demonstration facility will be built with the purpose of developing and demonstrating performance and reliability of the process. It will provide the proof of concept through to validate the technology to both end of use and end product industries. It’s planned to operate at sampling quantities to supply products for qualification at the manufacturing supply chains. 

Waste360: What is the potential impact of this technology?

The potential impact is huge! We are aiming for a world where resources are kept in constant circulation, driving economic, social and environmental benefits, which will each have positive effects.

We exist to propel the shift to a circular economy, which would in turn provide the business model to enable other circular initiatives to thrive. 

Finally, if we are able replace the use of virgin resources by recapturing raw materials from non-reusable products, this is a complete gamechanger – not just in textile waste but regarding any materials.