Going Green At The Golden Arches

International fast food chain McDonald’s Corporation has announced it is replacing its purchasing practice of foam polystyrene beverage cups for hot liquids such as coffee and tea and starting to purchase paper-constructed cups. The corporate-level decision was made as a result of customers asking for containers that were constructed with a higher recycled content and less environmental impact.

The Oak Brook, Illinois restaurant chain anticipates that its fourteen thousand United States locations will begin to switch over to the new beverage line throughout the winter and spring months of 2014.

The switch from foam to paper has been in the evaluation phase for some time. In 2012 the company conducted a test pilot with two thousand stores replacing the long-used foam coffee cups with extra-thick paper cups. The test results confirmed that customers were pleased with the switch and that the quality of the beverages was not compromised in any way. Recent changes and innovations in the manufacturing of high-quality paper cups made of recycled materials also resulted in making them a cost effective alternative to the standard polystyrene foam cups that have been in use for decades.

While paper cups still require some energy and chemicals to produce, they are easy to recycle, degrade quickly and put less of an overall strain on the environment.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Whether you run a large restaurant chain or operate a single-location corner sandwich shop, it’s worth the time to investigate environmentally-friendly products such as beverage containers. The more your customers can recycle, the less you need to dispose of in the trash. When you go green you can save green too!

EPA Assists With Hurricane Waste Removal And Clean-up

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Region 7 is providing assistance of two and one half million dollars to the government of Joplin, Missouri to assist in the waste removal, cleaning and remediation of cadmium-and lead-contaminated properties that resulted in the wake of a tornado which caused catastrophic damage in May of 2011.

The additional round of federal funding is provided through the agency’s Superfund program, and in working with the city, will be used to hire additional remediation staff, purchase equipment, and allow for additional testing services for ground contaminates, ground excavation and when needed, soil replacement.

The EPA has already contributed almost five and one half million dollars to ensure safe homes and properties across the affected region. The additional funding is necessary to continue the rebuilding efforts and hopefully lead the city into a full recovery.

The tornado that struck Joplin was responsible for killing one hundred and sixty one people and injuring over one thousand. The tornado destroyed or damaged nearly eight thousand homes, schools, businesses, and churches. The tornado, along with the subsequent clean-up and demolition, disturbed contaminated soil from historic mine waste areas, resulting in un-safe levels of lead and cadmium in the soil and groundwater. The city of Joplin currently has ordinances requiring all residential soil to be tested prior to redevelopment to ensure health and safety.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Cleaning up after a natural disaster to more than simply moving debris to a landfill. If your municipality is in a region at risk for hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, or other threatening weather, be sure to have a plan in place for ensuring safe waste removal and protection against toxic waste and chemicals. You’ll save lives and recovery faster if you do!

Airline Reduces Waste With Green Cups

International airline carrier, United Airlines, has recently announced that it will introduce a brand new, green friendly hot beverage cup to use in its United Club in-flight drink service and hospitality rooms starting in March of 2014.

In the news release, the Chicago-based airline discussed the company’s shift to using an insulated InCycle Cup to replace the Styrofoam coffee cups that are currently in use. The new cup is completely recyclable and manufactured from fifty percent recycled materials. The InCycle cup is produced in the United States by MicroGreen Polymers.

MicroGreen’s technology for their recyclable beverage cups comes from re-using recycled water bottles and other beverage bottles made of plastic. One recycled plastic bottle creates four and one half InCycle cups. The InCycle cup is insulated, which eliminating more waste by removing the need for a hot beverage protective sleeve.

The switch comes as part of United’s strategy to evaluate all operational recycling to discover new opportunities to cut waste disposal and boost cost effective recycling. Additionally, the airline is simplifying the recycling process for flight attendants and grounds workers to increase overall recycling amounts. Over the prior six years, United recycled almost twenty four million pounds of waste materials generated through its aircraft and on-ground facilities.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: The market for recycled materials is always changing and improving. When was the last time you looked for environmentally friendly and waste reducing alternative products for your business or home? If it’s been some time, you might want to check again. You could be pleasantly surprised by the cost of green friendly products and how much money you’ll be able to save in the long run when you stop putting garbage in the trash and start recycling it instead!


EPA Cracks Down On Environmental Waste Violations

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published its 2013 enforcement results showing a commitment to prosecuting violators from municipalities and businesses whose disregard of environmental waste laws result in adverse conditions for public health.

A few of the results from the EPA’s major cases from 2013 are:

— Combined criminal sentences for violators during 2013 resulted in fines exceeding four and a half billion dollars and more than one billion dollars in civil penalties.

— Almost four billion dollars was resolved for Gulf Coast residents and communitites as a result of the Deepwater Horizon environmental spill case.

— Mandating retailer Walmart to improve its hazardous waste handling policies and practices, including enhanced training programs to ensure the safety of employees and residents. Walmart was forced to pay over eighty million dollars in fines for failing to comply with pesticides and hazardous waste regulations.

— Reaching a settlement with AVX Corporation to pay over three hundred fifty million dollars to rectify pollution and contamination in Massachusetts’s New Bedford Harbor.

— Working with energy providers such as Dominion Energy, Wisconsin Power and Light,  and Louisiana Generating to reduce harmful chemical emissions into the community from coal fired power generators.

— Helping cities and towns of all size better manage resources, reduce pollution and enhance the quality of life for residents. Settlements with the city of Seattle and King Country, Washington require cities to assist surrounding communities impacted by sewage discharges.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: The US EPA can be a great resource to your business or municipality. Learn the regulations, and follow their best practice advice. Better to be on the right side of the law than being subjected to fines, penalties, bad publicity and legal proceedings!

Grocery Chain Goes From Waste To Energy

The state of Massachusetts has recently provided the necessary licensing approvals to the Stop & Shop Supermarket grocery store chain so that it may move ahead with its proposed plan to convert excess food scraps and waste into energy.

The Department of Environmental Protection for Massachusetts released the required permits for the supermarket to start construction on a new Product Recovery Operation to be housed at the company’s primary distribution center located in the Cape Cod community of Freetown. The new operations plant will rely on anaerobic digestion methods to re-use unsold food as a source for electricity and heat for the building. In addition, a fertilizer byproduct will also be generated as an outcome of the process.

It is anticipated that the new operation facility will process close to one hundred tons per day of unsold food waste and be able to generate slightly over one megawatt of energy. This amount would satisfy forty percent of the distribution building’s electrical needs – resulting in a significant cost savings.

The facility will utilize all unsold food items from Stop & Shop grocery stores, including the deli, produce, bakery, and items that are past expiration or otherwise unfit or unsuitable for human consumption. The New England supermarket chain has an already established food to composting and food to animal feed program and this newest endeavor is seen as a way to continue to lower energy costs while converting waste materials into usable byproducts and electricity.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: You company’s food scraps and organic waste have many useful applications beyond your dumpster and the landfill! If you’re paying to dispose of large quantities of food waste it’s time to look into alternatives. You’ll be able to save green and go green at the same time!


Colleges, Elder Care Facility Achieve EPA Awards For Recycling

In November of 2013, as part of America Recycles Day, two schools in Massachusetts and an elder care center in Connecticut were honored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their efforts in keeping waste food out of landfills and distributing waste fit for human consumption it to local agencies that work to feed the economically disadvantaged and hungry. Each year, over thirty million tons of food waste is generated in the United States and only three percent of that total waste is composted or re-used.

The award winning facilities were the University of Massachusetts (Amherst campus), Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the Orchards in Southington, Connecticut, an assisted care facility.

The Food Recovery Challenge, sponsored by the EPA, encourages organizations and businesses to reduce the amount of food they purchase and dispose of and to divert extra or waste food to feed to non-profit food banks or composting and animal feed initiatives. In the New England region, more than fifty private businesses, non-profits groups, schools, hospitals, and government agencies participates in the challenge during 2013.

The University of Massachusetts used several strategies for reducing food waste including tray-less dining, compostable cutlery, and a student-run composting business. The University is currently constructing an anaerobic digestion facility for on-site processing and will be used by other communities in addition to the University to produce green energy. Facilities  for anaerobic digestion capture the gas created by composting food and convert it into electricity.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If your business is paying money every month to send waste food and food scraps to a landfill, you may be missing out on an opportunity to reduce your waste disposal expenditures, protect your region’s environment, and help help your less fortunate members in your community.



EPA OKs Recycled Coal Ash For Concrete And Wallboard

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently approved waste coal ash as an acceptable recycled material to be used in the production of concrete and wallboard for construction purposes. Coal ash is the leftover waste material when coal boilers are used for steam power generation in large-scale industrial settings.

In a recent press release, the EPA stated that it had determined that using CCR’s or coal combustion residuals in construction materials such as wallboard and concrete is an acceptable alternative to the use of virgin materials or to other waste materials that rank less favorably on the EPA’s environmental benchmarks and well-being scale.

The EPA determined that the waste coal ash could be used as a portland cement substitute in concrete as an alternative to mined gypsum in wallboard. As nearly half of all coal ash is currently used in cement and wallboard, the EPA approval will help to boost sustainability and further lessen environmental impacts. Currently, a little more than half of all coal ash produced is placed in landfills – the more opportunities there are for the recycled material to be used productively, the less need there is for ground surface space to dispose of it.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Staying aware of the latest EPA developments can help you and your business save money. If your business deals with coal ash residues or concrete and wallboard, this recent approval may help you to reduce your disposal costs or reduce the price of commonly used materials. Paying attention to news from the EPA and your state’s environmental agency can help keep you in the know about grant opportunities, legal changes, and training and development programs that can help your business, employees, and community!


EPA Smart Growth Awards For Communities

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently named seven municipalities 2013 Smart Growth Achievement award winners for creative and environmentally sustainable economic growth initiatives. The winners included a recreational greenway in Atlanta, Georgia; a tourism-focused rafting park in Iowa, a regional economic development plan in Chicago, a re-furbished Historic District in Dubuque, Iowa and an environmentally friendly, affordable housing development in Sacramento, California.

The award winning municipalities were evaluated in five categories: overall excellence; revitalization of neighborhoods; consideration of parks and recreation places; establishment of policies and programs; and construction projects. Special consideration was given to cities and towns that focused on cleaning up brownfield and environmentally damaged sites; employed green strategies to manage storm-water and overall community water quality; provided for public transportation access; and fostered the growth of energy-efficient housing in lower-income neighborhoods.

In all, the EPA received seventy seven award applications from thirty one states including Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Despite the fierce competition, the winners were selected due to their effectiveness in fostering sustainable neighborhoods; encouraging equitable distribution between all stakeholders, including residents, government, and non-profits groups; and serving as models for their ability to integrate development plans that are both environmentally focused and economically sustainable over time. The Smart Growth Achievement award was created in 2002 and to date, sixty one community winners from twenty six states have been honored for their work and strategic planning and development.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Smart economic planning and green-friendly ideas don’t have to be separate and distinct. In fact, when you combine the two, your town or business can often come out ahead because you’ll be using both ideas to go green and save green!

National Football League Goes Green

The NFL, also known as the National Football League, wanted to make sure this year’s Superbowl Sunday was the most “green friendly” championship football game ever. Environmentally focused plans for the event included a strategy for collecting food scraps and food waste generated at and around the stadium for use in composting and powering biodiesel generators. Additionally, stadium grounds managers ave been planting several new trees around the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, to help reduce carbon emissions.

Close to eight tons of food scraps and organic waste material were generated during the Super Bowl, and this year, instead of disposing of the waste in landfills, a giant compactor was used to collected the material for transporting to a regional food waste processing facility. The compost generated will be used by the stadium for landscaping purposes.
In addition, the stadium also wanted to recycling all waste cooking oil from its on-site food stands and restaurants for re-process as biodiesel fuel that could be used to power the generators that supply energy to Super Bowl Boulevard, a large recreation area near the stadium that features entertainment. The expectation is that the collected waste oil will contribute up to a third of the total power needed to supply the sports complex during a game.

After the game was completed, the NFL also donated all fabric signage, totaling several miles, to area nonprofits groups for re-sale and re-use.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If your city or town has recreation areas and popular sports fields, take a look at how waste materials generated are disposed of. Is your town paying to send everything to a landfill or are your city administrators being smart and looking at ways to save taxpayer dollars by re-use and recycling?

Commercial Food Waste Disposal Bans

Massachusetts will be the latest state to put in place a statewide ban on disposing of commercial food waste. The new regulation is expected to begin on October 1 of 2014.

The goal of the new regulation is designed to keep food waste from landfills and instead use it for energy-generating purposes and for creating composting. The Department of Environmental Protection for the state of Massachusetts will be in charge of enforcement for the ban.

The new rules will require any business that disposes a minimum of one ton of organic materials, including food scraps, each week to re-purpose or donate any usable food in that amount being disposed of. All remaining food waste that is not fit for human consumption will be sent for anaerobic digestion to be used for conversion to energy, or for use in composting and animal-feeding facilities.

State officials believe the new food waste disposal ban is necessary for attaining the waste disposal reduction plans the state has enacted. Massachusetts has established a goal to reduce waste by thirty  percent in 2020 and by eighty percent by 2050.

Food waste materials from household and small businesses are currently exempt from the rule. It is expected that the ban will affect close to two thousand large businesses such as grocery store chains, universities, schools, hotels, convention facilities, hospitals, and large restaurants.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If your business is producing large amounts of waste food and organic matter, it will pay to start investigating cost-cutting re-use and recycling strategies now. Better to be ahead of the state mandates now than to be struggling to comply later on. The early bird who “goes green” now might also save the most “green” in the long run!