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Which is better… Paper or Plastic?

November 18th, 2009 1 comment

Thanks to Earth911 for a great article. Excerpt is here:

Let’s admit it, if it came down to choosing paper versus plastic bags at the checkout line, most people would choose paper. After all, they’re made from a renewable resource and are typically pretty easy to recycle. But when you consider the overall life cycle impact of paper bags over plastic, paper doesn’t look quite as green:

Paper or Plastic, maybe I'll reuse...

Paper or Plastic, maybe I'll reuse...

  • Each year, Americans use about 10 billion paper bags, resulting in the cutting down of 14 million trees.
  • Using paper bags doubles the amount of CO2 produced versus using plastic bags.
  • Plastic grocery bags require 40-70 percent less energy to manufacture than paper bags.
  • It takes 91 percent less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it takes to recycle a pound of paper.
  • In the U.S. nearly 80 percent of polyethylene (the plastic used for bags) is produced from natural gas. This includes feedstock, process and transportation energy.

According to Keith Christman, senior director of market advocacy for the American Chemistry Council (ACC), plastic bags may actually be the better choice.

But why do bags have such a lower environmental footprint in manufacturing? According to Christman, one of the factors that accounts for this is the difference in weight between a typical paper and plastic bag, with paper bags weighing 10 times as much as their plastic counterparts on average.

“That goes along with the fundamental law of reducing – using much less material in the first place,” he said.

Full and original Earth911 article

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: , ,

Recycling Rate for Aluminum Cans Increases 1.4% in 2008

November 16th, 2009 No comments

The recycling rate for aluminum cans increased to 54.2% in 2008 as compared with 52.8% in 2007, according to industry trade groups that track recycling trends.

Aluminum cans have the highest recycling rate of any beverage container, according to the Aluminum Association, the Can Manufacturers Institute and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.

“The aluminum can is a sustainable beverage package,” said Kevin Anton, chairman of the Aluminum Association and president of Alcoa Materials Management. “Recycling conserves energy, saves resources and minimizes consumer and production waste.”

Original Article: Waste & Recycling News

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: ,

Tire Recycling Approval in Colorado

November 11th, 2009 No comments

Magnum Recycling USA received full operational permits and license authority for its Hudson, Colorado 120+ acre Tire Landfill facility. Magnum can now swiftly move forward with its Environmentally ‘Green‘ Technology using its Closed Loop Rubber Recycling Solutions at this production facility.

Magnum’s USA Facility

Magnum’s USA Facility

On November 4, 2009, Magnum Recycling USA received unanimous approval from Weld County for the Special Use Permit that governs operation of the Hudson Tire Landfill facility. The permits allow Magnum to accept tires and begin the installation and operation plan of one of the largest Next Generation Rubber Recycling & Solutions Facility.

Joseph Glusic, President and CEO of Magnum, stated, “We have accomplished significant strides during a very short period of time. This marks the beginning of what will be a rapid expansion at our Hudson Facility. We accomplished our goal of receiving all of the necessary permits and licenses required to allow full operational activity. We can now unequivocally state that Magnum owns and operates the largest tire landfill in the U.S.A.”

Bryan Brammer, COO of Magnum Recycling USA, commented, “We are now working with Magnum Engineering International (MEI) and its affiliates to transform Magnum’s Tire Landfill into a World Renowned Rubber Solutions Facility. This is a major milestone for both the company and its shareholders. With approximately 400,000 tons of tires and rubber scrap, Magnum can now rapidly accelerate its business strategy to produce high quality fine rubber powders and reactivated proprietary compounds through our strategic partnerships. The Magnum SRI Revolutionary Custom Compounds have recently made rubber recycling history by adding 20% rubber recycled content to an OEM Light Truck Tire and still retain all the performance properties of a Traditional Virgin Rubber Light Truck OEM Tire. We here in Colorado are incredibly excited to be involved in such revolutionary processes.”

More images here: Magnum Recycling USA Facility

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: ,

Water Bottles Now Included in New York’s Container Deposit Law

October 30th, 2009 2 comments
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Water bottles will now be included in New York State’s 5-cent beverage container deposit law after Oct. 31, thanks to a ruling by a judge earlier this month.

U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Batts ruled after a court hearing last week that the expansion would be enacted; she went on to permanently enjoined a provision of the bill that would have required bottlers to have state-specific UPC labels on bottles.

New York becomes the third state this year and sixth overall to include water bottles in its deposit program. Oregon added water bottles Jan. 1 and Connecticut on Oct. 1.

Overall, 11 states have deposit laws that include carbonated soft drinks, beer and water bottles. California, Hawaii and Maine also include non-carbonated beverages such as teas and energy drinks.

“It seems to me that this is certainly a trend now,” Laura Haight, senior environmental associate with the New York Public Interest Research Group said. “We certainly hope that New York will be a trendsetter, and that more states will do this. The environmental benefits of recycling plastic include not only litter reduction, but energy savings and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. You can get a lot of bang for your buck from deposit laws.”

Eight other states, including Tennessee and Massachusetts, are currently considering bottle bills or extension of bottle bills to include water.

According to an analysis by the Container Recycling Institute (CRI) in Culver City, Calif., the deposit program should increase the number of water bottles recycled in New York from 487 million in 2006 to 2.5 billion in 2010, when the program is in effect for an entire year. Only 14 percent of water bottles in New York were recycled in 2006, compared to a 70 percent recycling rate for soft drinks, according to CRI.

CRI said the additional 2 billion water bottles that are expected to be recycled on an annual basis in New York will keep 163.7 million pounds out of material out of landfills and incinerators, and the energy saved by recycling these additional containers will be enough to provide power to 43,660 households for an entire year.

Water bottles account for 25 percent of all beverage sales in New York state. The expanded bottle bill applies to all water drinks as long as they don’t contain sugar — which means that vitamin drinks, iced teas, sports drink, juices and sugared water drinks are still excluded.

Deposits apply to all beverage containers under one gallon. Bottled water represents 69 percent of all non-carbonated beverages sold in New York.

The bottle bill had been challenged in court in May by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), Nestle Waters North America and Polar Corp.

“Now that the deposit is in place, I think we are just about done in Albany,” said Tom Lauria, vice president of communications for IBWA. “We got rid of the New York state-specific UPC code and got our members a lot more time to get ready for this.

A spokeswoman for Nestle said the company “supports the bill, [but] we want to see it expanded further.” The company has said in the past that the exclusion of certain beverages puts bottled water at a price disadvantage, and that it would seek to get the bill amended in the next legislative session.

After a preliminary court hearing last August, Nestle Chairman and CEO Kim Jeffery issued a statement, saying that deposit laws “must apply to all beverages,” including the sports drinks, teas, juices and energy drinks that are excluded from the expanded bottle bill.

Other provisions of the New York law went into effect Aug. 13. The changes increased the handling fee that distributors pay to grocers, convenience stores and redemption centers for handling bottle returns from 2 cent to 3.5 cents — the first increase since 1997.

In addition, 80 percent of the unclaimed nickel deposits in New York — an estimated $115 million annually — will now go to the state, with distributors and bottlers keeping the rest. Previously, distributors and bottlers had kept all of the unclaimed deposits.

Find more information on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website

GPO Prints the Congressional Record on 100 Percent Recycled Paper

October 12th, 2009 2 comments

The United States Government Printing Office (GPO) and the U.S. Congress have announced that the GPO began printing the Congressional Record on 100 percent recycled-content paper.

The Congressional Record, the official record of the proceedings and debates of Congress, is printed by GPO every day that Congress is in session. In a news release, GPO says it has been testing 100 percent recycled paper throughout 2009. “Those tests showed no difference in printability or run-ability as compared to the 40 percent post-consumer [scrap] recycled paper GPO has been using for years,” says the organization.

“It puts the official proceedings of Congress on recycled paper and that is good for our environment and good for our future,” says Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. “This is one more step in the ‘Green the Capitol’ program—making sustainability a priority, placing conservation and energy efficiency at the top of our agenda, and putting America’s leaders at the forefront of an issue that affects all Americans.”

Pelosi offered the remarks when Public Printer Bob Tapella presented her with copies of the Congressional Record printed on 100 percent recycled paper.

“Sustainable Environmental Stewardship is both good business and good government,” declared Tapella. “The Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate are both very much in favor of environmental initiatives, and printing the Congressional Record on 100 percent recycled newsprint is one step further in advancing their agendas.”

The GPO describes itself as “the federal government’s primary centralized resource for gathering, cataloging, producing, providing, authenticating, and preserving published U.S. government information in all its forms.” More information on the organization is available at www.gpo.gov.

Video: GPO YouTube video

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: ,

Connecticut Requires Deposit on Water Bottles

October 6th, 2009 No comments

As of Oct 1, 2009, Connecticut’s new bottle bill legislation is in full swing.

Connecticut’s bottle deposit law is not just for soda and beer anymore. In March 2009, Gov. Jodi Rell signed a deficit reduction measure that expands the deposit law, commonly known as a “bottle bill,” to include bottled water. Milk containers are still exempt.

Bottle bills require consumers to pay refundable deposits on certain beverage containers. Connecticut is one of 11 states that have such a law. Since 1980, Connecticut residents have paid a 5-cent deposit on each container of a carbonated beverage. The deposits are redeemed when the containers are returned for recycling.

The expansion of the deposit to bottled water took effect on April 1, 2009. However, manufacturers could apply for a waiver that would give them until Oct. 1, 2009 to make the necessary changes to their bottle labels. The state has granted waivers to about 40 manufacturers, according to The Connecticut Post. The new law also exempts three-liter and larger containers as well as containers made of high-density polyethylene.

The state will keep the unredeemed deposits to help its bottom line. Connecticut officials originally projected that the bottle bill expansion would bring in an additional $3.8 million by the end of June, but that was before the state granted the 40 waivers.

In an interview with the WNPR radio network, Jesse Stratton, a spokeswoman for the Sierra Club’s Connecticut chapter who has been lobbying for the expansion for years, admitted that financial considerations drove the move. But, “this really is the way to most cost effectively and efficiently assure that a very valuable commodity, this PET plastic, is actually recycled, rather than incinerated,” she told the network.

In another interview with WNPR, Craig Stevens, spokesman for the American Beverage Association, which opposed the expansion, dismissed the expanded container deposit law as “a money grab.”

“I think the other side of this is how cynical of a public policy this is,” Stevens added. “The legislature is betting that the citizens don’t recycle.”

Despite excuses, statistics have shown that bottle bill states have a much better percentage of increased recycling and a decrease in littering over non-bottle bill states.

More Details of the Legislation: CT Bottle Bill

North Carolina Law to Ban Plastic Bottles from Landfills

October 5th, 2009 1 comment

Earth911 article by Trey Granger

Under a new law that takes effect Oct. 1, North Carolina will be banning all rigid plastic containers from landfills. This includes any bottles with a neck smaller than the container itself.

The legislation was created back in 2005, and will focus largely on the recovery of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This plastic, commonly identified by the number “1″ inside a recycling symbol on the bottle, is the resin of choice for most soda and water bottles.

North Carolina is also building the nation’s largest facility to recycle PET bottles, which will able to process 280 million pounds of material per year. One of the primary partners in this venture is carpet manufacturer Shaw Industries Group, LLC, which can turn recycled PET into polyester for use in carpeting.

North Carolina is already home to the second largest high-density polyethylene (HDPE) recycling facility in the U.S., Envision Plastics. HDPE is the other commonly used plastic bottle resin, which can be found in detergent bottles and milk jugs.

The state will be inspecting landfills starting in October, but it’s unlikely that individuals will be fined for trashing plastic bottles unless they are caught unloading a large amount.

“It’s not going to be a Big Brother law, but the best way to be in compliance with the law is to recycle plastic bottles,” says Scott Mouw, environmental supervisor for the North Carolina Department of the Environment and Natural Resources. “Everyone wants to do the right thing, and the right thing is to recycle.”

North Carolina already has a substantial list of items banned from landfills, which ranges from aluminum cans to white goods. Also being added to the banned products list in October is motor oil filters.

While PET and HDPE represent the largest population of plastic bottles, a growing alternative are bioplastics. These are made of renewable materials that biodegrade in a commercial compost system.

Please find the Original Earth911 Article here.

What to know About Recycling Paper

October 2nd, 2009 2 comments

We all understand the fundamentals of a paper recycling, but there is also some uncertainty about the details.  Here are a few things you (may not, but) SHOULD know!

  • DO NOT let the paper get wet.  Since recyclers purchase paper by weight, the entire lot may get rejected if they see wet paper.  Check your weather before it gets collected unless you are certain the rain won’t get in!
  • No food! Dirty paper plates, napkins, paper towels, etc. are, unfortunately, trash… or should go to compost.  But please, not in the recycle bin – they will quickly cross contaminate the other contents.
  • Do not worry about little things like small paper clips, plastic envelope windows, staples, labels, metal envelope latches or even notebook spirals.  Unlike food matter, they separate easily in processing and can be removed from the batch.
  • Watch the adhesives! Heavily glued (sticky) items can ruin batches of recycled paper.  Don’t toss in those “complimentary” address labels and other stickers.  Post-It Notes are fine but if an envelope has a heavy self-stick flap, tear it off first.
  • Allow tape in moderation. Some tape here and there won’t hurt, but if a box is wrapped in yards of shipping tape, remove it as best you can.  Paper
    tape
    is A-OK!
  • Don’t shred paper unless you must – most recyclers don’t like accepting
    shredded paper
    because it’s a challenge to sort.  If you are a “shredder”, contain it in a paper bag first (or it can be composed!).
  • Skip the heavy-dye, saturated papers with deep, dark colors or fluorescents.  It’s difficult to bleach them back to a usable form.
  • No plastic or wax coated papers (like paper cups), but glossy papers (like magazines) are acceptable.

Remember, the EPA estimates that 40% of solid waste in the U.S. is paper products… shameful!  But paper can actually be recycled up to seven times, and it is easier and cheaper to make pulp from recycled fibers than from wood… awesome!  And one more tidbit to share:

Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees… and those 17 saved trees can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year!

Paper recycling rules!

Original Blog Posting: momgoesgreen.com

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: ,

Benefits of Aluminum Can Recycling

October 1st, 2009 No comments

Environmental Benefits

  • Recycling aluminum cans saves precious natural resources, energy, time and money – all for a good cause – helping out the earth, as well as the economy and local communities.
  • Aluminum cans are unique in that in 60 days a can is recycled, turned into a new can & back on store shelves.
  • Aluminum is a sustainable metal and can be recycled over and over again.
  • In 2008, 53.2 billion cans were recycled, saving the energy equivalent of ~15 million barrels of crude oil – America’s entire gas consumption for one day.

Economic Benefits

  • The aluminum can is the most valuable container to recycle and is the most recycled consumer product in the U.S. today.
  • Each year, the aluminum industry pays out over $800 million dollars for empty aluminum cans – that’s a lot of money that can go to organizations, like Habitat for Humanity, the Boy or Girl Scouts of America, or even a local school. Money earned from recycling cans helps people help themselves and their communities. Recycling helps build new homes, pays for a group trip, supports a project or buys a lunch!
  • Today it is cheaper, faster and more energy-efficient to recycle aluminum than ever before. The aluminum can is 100 percent recyclable and can be recycled indefinitely. The can remains the most recyclable of all materials.
  • Used aluminum beverage cans are the most recycled item in the U.S., but other types of aluminum, such as siding, gutters, car components, storm window frames, and lawn furniture can also be recycled.
  • Aluminum has a high market value and continues to provide an economic incentive to recycle. When aluminum cans are recycled curbside, they help pay for community services.

Original Article: Earth911 Article

References: Aluminum Association, Inc.

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: ,

Recycle Glass Week

September 29th, 2009 No comments

Last week (21 – 27 Sep 2009) was Recycle Glass week. Congratulations to the 2009 Friends of Glass Honorees! Great Job.

Earth911.com
2009 Friend of Glass – Website

Hyatt Regency Atlanta
2009 Friend of Glass – Hospitality Industry

Representative Jay Inslee
2009 Friend of Glass – Legislator

City of Fort Collins, Colorado, Natural Resource Department
2009 Friend of Glass – Community

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
2009 Best Friend of Glass

Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc.
2009 Best Friend of Glass

McIlhenny Company for TABASCO® Brand
2009 Best Friend of Glass – Lifetime Achievement Recognition

Full story is here: Recycle Glass Week

2009 Friends of Glass Honorees

Categories: event, materials, recycle Tags: ,