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3 Ways to Recycle Soda Bottles and Use Them in Your Garden

November 22nd, 2010 4 comments

Special guest post by Mike Lieberman.

Starting your own garden doesn’t require you to invest a lot of money on new containers. With a bit of creativity you can repurpose old items to grow in.

One item that I’ve been able to use in multiple ways is a soda bottle.

According to Earth911, “Less than 1 percent of all plastics is recycled. Therefore, almost all plastics are incinerated or end up in a landfill.”

So why not do your part and keep the soda bottles from the landfill.

Unfortunately soda bottles are a plenty and can be found nearly anywhere. During Keep America Beautiful’s 2009 Great American Cleanup, volunteers recovered and recycled 243,000,000 PET (plastic) bottles that littered highways, waterways and parks.

Here are three ways that I’ve successfully used soda bottles in my garden. Whether you have a backyard or a windowsill, you can utilize one of these low-cost ideas in your garden today.

Hanging Soda Bottle Planter

These are easy to make and hang well from railings and hand rails. I had about 10 of these lining the railing on my fire escape.

Self-Watering Container

If you have limited space and are lazy about watering, you can pack a lot of these in a small space to grow your veggies.

Herb Garden on a Shipping Pallet

For those of you that are bit more handy or would like a small challenge, you can double up on your recycling with this project by using a shipping pallet and soda bottles.

Help to give another life to a soda bottle and new life to a plant.

Thanks Mike!

Mike Lieberman started urban gardening and growing some of his own food in May 2009 on his fire escape in NYC. He inspires others to start growing their own food on his blog Urban Organic Gardener. Lieberman believes that growing just one herb or vegetable will make a difference. It will help to cut back the intensive resources that go into the production and transport of food to our plates. It will also help us to re-establish our connection with food that we’ve lost over the past few years. We are humans. We grow food. For more information on Lieberman, please visit CanarsieBK.com.

A Story of Machines

November 17th, 2010 1 comment

On ecycler‘s most recent trip through Michigan (a bottle bill state) we took the opportunity to document a typical grocery store redemption center. In four easy steps we went from having an empty soda bottle to being a dime richer…

A little background, first. A reverse vending machine is a device that accepts used beverage containers and returns money to you–the reverse of the typical vending cycle. Once a container is scanned, identified (i.e., matched in a database) and determined to be a valid container, it is processed and (usually) crushed to reduce its size.

Step 1 – Pick a Machine

Choose a machine based on the container material. In Michigan, for example, you have a choice between glass, plastic or aluminum cans.

Step 2 – Insert Containers

In this case, we have a plastic soda bottle. So, we begin by simply depositing the container in the large opening. The machine will “suck” each container into its bowels and increment the counter.

Step 3 – Review Value

Confirm the count as the machine iterates by one with each deposited container. Then press the big green button to finish the transaction.

Step 4 – Print Receipt and Get Cash

The machine will then print a receipt for you. Take this to the “Guest Services” counter or the attendant on hand for your cash!

Congratulations!

It’s that easy… Most of the bottle bill states give a redemption value of five cents, Michigan takes the exception with its ten cent deposit value.

And, we created a special photo set on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecycler/sets/72157625326970436/

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: , , ,

Top-20 Ways to Make your Business Greener

November 13th, 2010 No comments

Help us celebrate America Recycles Day!

Businesses have an opportunity to offer their customers more than just a product or service – by making green thinking part of their culture, their customers gain peace of mind knowing that concern for the environment is part of the product. Many large companies have sustainability programs that involve working only with suppliers that meet their environmental standards, reducing their carbon footprint by operating fully packed trucks and making fewer deliveries and using alternative sources of energy to fuel their plants. But there are much smaller, everyday ways that offices can reduce waste and involve all employees in making the workspace more environmentally friendly.

We, at ecycler offer these top-20 ways to make your business greener:

  1. Make green thinking part of your corporate culture
  2. Encourage your employees to recycle their beverage cans, newspapers, cardboard and other office waste using ecycler.com and set up recycling bins in your office or warehouse
  3. Recycle other office products that you might not traditionally think can be recycled, such as electronics, batteries, scrap metal and phone books
  4. Use hybrid or electric delivery trucks
  5. Run diesel trucks on B100 or B10 biodiesel (100% biodiesel is referred to as B100)
  6. Use high-efficiency light bulbs in your office (watch for LED bulbs in 2011)
  7. Encourage employees to use alternative transportation to get to work, either by subsidizing bus or train passes; creating car pools or providing incentives for those who bike or walk to work
  8. Eliminate or cut down on junk mail
  9. Provide coffee cups that are re-useable; napkins and other kitchen products that are made with recycled items and that can be recycled
  10. Install hand dryers in your restrooms instead of paper towels
  11. Encourage employees not to print out e-mails, reports and other documents unless absolutely necessary
  12. Install motion-detector lights in areas like the bathroom and kitchen, in order to save electricity
  13. Host monthly clean-up days in which employees recycle items they no longer need in their workspace
  14. Encourage employees to turn off their computers and other electronics before they leave the office for the evening
  15. Provide a water cooler and discourage employees from bringing bottled water to work
  16. Stock the printer and fax machine with recycled paper
  17. Reorder office supplies only when needed rather than keeping extra pens, paper and other supplies on hand, as that encourages employees to take more items than they need
  18. Install energy-efficient refrigerators and dish washers in the breakroom
  19. Have employees deposit their extra change in a bowl and at the end of six months, donate the loose change to an environmental charity
  20. Ask the cleaning crew to use non-toxic cleaning supplies

Doing any or all of these things will help businesses do their part to help the environment. Businesses and residents alike can use ecycler.com to handle many of their recycling needs.

Register as an ecycler discarder or collector today!

Thanks to http://www.elephantjournal.com for the use of their image.

Can I Recycle a Pizza Box?

November 1st, 2010 3 comments

Issue at Hand: Over 1 billion pizzas are delivered every year, while over 11.5 million pizzas are sold every day in this country.

So Can We Recycle Pizza Boxes or Not?

The problem with recycling pizza boxes is the food, cheese and grease that both sticks to the insides of the cardboard box and the oils that permeate the fibers of the paper cardboard. In a nutshell, fiber in food is fine, but food on fiber that is due to be recycled is not! Paper fibers in the recycling bin are actually not recyclable if they have any food contamination on them.

Many recyclers will opt to take a pizza box that is still relatively clean, meaning very minimal or no grease stains at all. If cheese from the pizza has gotten stuck to the box lid, but the bottom of the box is still clean, then consider going the extra little bit of distance, removing the top half, and still recycling the bottom, clean half. Then, you can either discard the dirty box top in the trash, or consider composting it. For boxes with pizza crumbs and maybe a little bit of tomato sauce, consider wiping the insides clean and then recycling it.

What Are the Reasons Behind Not Recycling Pizza Boxes?

Remember, as long as pizza boxes are entirely clean and not soaked with cheese, grease or oils, they can be recycled along with other paper and cardboard. When the pizza boxes become overly saturated with oil and grease, the basic process of recycling fibrous materials is rendered useless, as the paper fibers themselves cannot be separated from the grease and oils.

What you may not know is that paper products are recycled in a process that employs water to do the dirty work. The oil and grease found in paper containers like pizza boxes or other food cartons gets into the water mixture during the recycling process and basically ruins the batch being worked on. As the oil separates and refuses to mix with the water, it gets in the way when in later stages, the mashed up mixture of paper and cardboard needs to be reformed to make recycled paper products.

Read more…

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: ,

Now that’s Serious Recycling

October 6th, 2010 2 comments

Some people are really serious about recycling. The photos of these men in China prove that you don’t need a car to redeem recyclables – a motorcycle, bicycle or rickshaw will do.

With ecycler, we hope to make redemption of recyclables easy for all collectors, regardless of whether they own a vehicle. In fact, if people don’t use cars or trucks to pick up recyclables, it will be even better for the environment. Our hats off to these men for keeping all of that plastic out of landfills.

Images may be found on Weird Asia News site.

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: ,

Best to Recycle the Whole Can

October 5th, 2010 No comments

As a steward to the recycling community, ecycler is tasked to educate the public on recycling best practices. In some cases, a re-education or myth squashing. Our latest encounter led to a discussion regarding aluminum cans and their pull tabs.

Pull tabs have no special value.

It is always best to recycle the whole can! The pull tabs have no special value; in fact, they contain only a fraction of the aluminum the comprises the can as a whole. The value of recycling is at its fullest when the entire can is recycled. Both in terms of benefit to the environment and the dollars and cents in your pocket.

As we continue to speak with business owners and consumers we sometimes meet people with misinformation, our duty is to correct or redirect these situations.

We found this great article that backs up our stance to debunk the myth of saving only the tabs. Check it out here on Snopes: Keeping Tabs

Recycle Glass Week

September 15th, 2010 No comments

It’s Recycle Glass Week (September 12 – 18, 2010)

For more information: http://www.gpi.org/recycle-glass-week/

Top Ten Reasons to Recycle Glass Bottles

10. Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for four hours or power a computer for 30 minutes. That’s just one glass bottle.

9. More recycled glass bottles are needed. Stat. Glass container manufacturers have set a goal to reach 50% recycled content in the manufacture of new glass bottles by 2013. They’re going to need a lot more.

8. Spare change. In 11 states with container deposit laws, you can get cash for recycling your empty glass bottles. Or, list them on ecycler.com and a collector will pick them up for free.

7. Conserve natural resources. Over a ton are saved for every ton of glass containers recycled.

6. Save energy. Costs for energy drop about 2-3% for every 10% recycled glass containers used in the manufacturing process. You see where this is going?

5. All this carbon footprint stuff, recycling glass bottles really does makes a difference. Using six tons of recycled container glass in the manufacturing process equals one ton of carbon dioxide reduced.

4. Karma. Glass is 100% and endlessly recyclable. A glass container can go from a recycling bin to a store shelf in as little as 30 days. It’s gonna come back to you.

3. Bars (we know you’re there) are a hotbed for glass recycling. Over 35% of beer and soft drink bottles were recycled in 2008. Is your corner bar recycling?

2. No dish washer required. Just rinse and recycle your glass bottles and jars. But keep out coffee cups, dishware, and Pyrex.

1. What? You’re not drinking out of an endlessly recyclable glass bottle? Start now. Glass is 100% pure taste—and no after taste.

Top-10 list borrowed from the Glass Packaging Institute website. Check it out for more information about recycling glass. Or, follow @chooseglass on twitter!

Categories: event, materials, recycle Tags: ,

Paper Recycling Hits Record High

April 2nd, 2010 1 comment

A record-high 63.4 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling in 2009, according PaperRecycles.org, which is funded by the American Forest & Paper Association (AF & PA).

Paper Recycling

Paper Recycling

The all-time high exceeds the industry’s 60 percent recovery goal three years ahead of schedule.

“Recycling is one of America’s great environmental success stories, and the paper industry is proud of our ongoing leadership role in this arena,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman.

“[This] announcement is a testament to the work of the industry and the commitment of millions of Americans who recycle at home, school and work on a daily basis.”

In 2009 the amount of paper recovered for recycling averaged 325 pounds for each man, woman and child in the United States.

About 50 million tons of paper and paperboard were recovered last year, down slightly from the year before, after plateauing at about 52 million tons in 2007, reports Environmental Leader.

According to the U.S. EPA, approximately 33 percent of the municipal solid waste stream is made up of paper and paperboard products.

Paper makes up the largest portion of the municipal waste stream and is also one of the most highly recovered materials as 87 percent (268 million) of Americans have access to curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs.

Thanks Earth911 for the article!

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: ,

Virginia Legislature Rejects Tax on Paper or Plastic Bags

February 17th, 2010 No comments

A Virginia legislative panel has rejected a proposal to levy a tax on consumers who accept paper bags or plastic bags from retailers.

A House Finance subcommittee tabled HB1115, a bill that would have required shoppers to pay a five-cent tax for each carryout bag received from retail establishments, including grocers, pharmacies and department stores.

The move follows on the heels of a decision by state legislators to set aside a proposal to ban plastic retail bags.

“Most public officials have determined that a new tax is not the most effective approach to combat litter – and that recycling works,” says Shari Jackson of the American Chemistry Council’s Progressive Bag Affiliates, which represents domestic plastic bag manufacturers.

The ideal solution would be for consumers to utilize reusable bags as blogged about here: Which is Better… Paper or Plastic?

Naya Going to 100% Recycled Water Bottle

December 6th, 2009 No comments

Just five months after going to a 50 percent recycled plastic bottle, Naya Spring Waters is launching full-bore into recycled bottle territory.

The Canadian water bottler said it is the first to use a 100 percent recycled PolyEthylene Terephthalate (rPET) bottle. The bottle is made from plastic that previously was used as packaging, then recycled.

“We’re proud to be the first major spring water brand to introduce 100 percent recycled plastic bottles, which is a win for the environment as well as for consumers who enjoy bottled water and want to reduce their impact,” said Daniel Cotte, president of Laval-based Naya Waters. “This innovation is another demonstration of our commitment to put the environment at the heart of Naya’s company strategy.”

The first bottles are going on sale in New York City in December, and by early 2010 they will be rolled out to the rest of North America.

Naya estimates that if 10 percent of the U.S. beverage industry went to 100 percent rPET, the packaging industry would save 715,000 barrels of virgin plastic annually.

Other drink makers are upping their commitment to using recycled materials in their bottles.

Naked Juice, which is a subsidiary of PepsiCo, is using post-consumer recycled PET for its clear 32-ounce plastic bottles.

Coca-Cola has begun the global rollout of its PlantBottle and by the end of 2010 it expects to have sold more than two billion units. Depending on the place of manufacture, the PlantBottle contains up to 50 percent recycled materials, as well as plastic derived from plant-based materials.

In the UK, Danone’s bottles have been made with 25 percent recycled plastic, but the company wants to increase that to 50 percent or more within a few years. The company has also pledged to reclaim and recycle a bottle for every bottle sold in the UK.

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: ,