Colorado Considers Bag Fees For Retailers

The city of Durango in Colorado is joining the ranks of municipalities throughout the United States looking to curb litter and reduce waste disposal by considering a plastic ban ban. The City Council of Durango is moving incrementally toward the ban by first implementing a ten-cent fee for use of disposable plastic and paper bags.

The fee would apply only to large retail and grocery stores and the cost of implementation will be split between businesses and city government. The city is now beginning a comprehensive outreach campaign to inform all residents, consumers and businesses of the importance of using re-usable shopping bags and the environmental impact that single use plastic bags have on wildlife, the environment, and landfills throughout the state..

Some residents have expresses concern about the fees but Durango Mayor Dick White is standing strong on the fact that the elected officials need to do what is best for the long-terms health and well-being of the community. The final vote on the measure will take place later this summer, and if it passes the fee for plastic bags would being in early March of 2014.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Most people do not embrace change readily, but plastic bag bans are going to increase in popularity as time moves forward. If your business relies on plastic bags, start thinking of alternatives now – don’t wait. If you can be two steps ahead, you’ll already be prepared – and while your competition is trying to fight city hall, you’ll be taking their customers by showing how “green friendly” you are!

California Increases Plastics Recycling

Berkeley, California presidents will soon be able to recycle more varieties of plastic containers as part of the city’s curbside recycling service. Ecology Center, a not-for-profit group that has overseen Berkeley’s recycling program since the mid-1970s, will now accept clean dairy tubs, plastic cups, food storage containers, and plastic trays. Prior to the change, residents were only allowed to recycle milk jugs and plastic bottles.

The reason for the delay in accepting additional forms of  plastics was difficulty with establishing a viable market for recycling them. Ecology Center and city officials did not want to collect materials under the guise of recycling only to have them incinerated or landfilled when a recycler or manufacturer requiring those plastics could not be found.

The city presently is not accepting items such as Styrofoam, thin film plastic, compostable plastics, and plastic utensils including coffee lids. However, should a business enterprise be willing to work with the city to acquire those items, there is the possibility that the collection list could change.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Recycling your waste materials is a great idea, but you want to make sure the items you’re collecting have a value and market demand. Take time to research the opportunities that are available and plan your recycling programs accordingly for maximum benefit to the environment and your bottom line!

Largest U.S. City Bans Plastic Bags

This past June, the Los Angeles City Council approved a new ordinance that would ban plastic bags at convenience stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, and certain retail shops throughout the city.

The decision to implement a ban goes back to 2012 then the same City Council approved the ordinance to eliminate plastic bags in grocery stores. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is fully expected to sign and approve the new law.

When the ordinance goes into effect, Los Angeles will become the largest city in the United States to enact a plastic bag ban. There are over thirteen million California residents living in the area. Combined with other municipalities in the state, by 2014 over one third of all California residents will live or work in an area where plastic grocery bags are banned. The city of Los Angeles is home to more people than the total population of most other states in the country. Only Florida, New York, Texas, and California have total populations greater than Los Angeles.

Under the new law, starting January 1, 2014, stores will no longer be allowed to distribute plastic bags to customers. A gradual roll-out of the rule is expected providing smaller shops additional time to deplete the inventory of bags and obtain cost-effective alternatives. Fines for non-compliance up to $500 will be enforced. Paper and multi-use plastic bags are still allowed and plastic bags for restaurants and produce are still allowed.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Plastic bag bans are sweeping the country and it’s only a matter of time before it’s taken up by your municipality. Take the time to investigate options now and plan ahead. Being seen as a recycling and reuse leader will gain you good press now and put you ahead of the competition when new laws are enacted!

Turning Markers Into Fuel

Last year, students at an elementary school in San Rafael, California started an online petition and created a video requested that Crayola, a manufacturer of crayons, markers, and other school and art supplies, start a take-back recycling program to collect the millions of unusable markers typically thrown away by schools every year.

When the online petition started, Crayola issued a statement saying that they did not have the necessary infrastructure in place to process a recycling take-back program. As a result, several other competitors in the marketplace stepped forward and offered schools a recycling program if their products were used instead of Crayola’s.

One year and ninety thousand signatures later, Crayola announced that it had changed direction and would begin the process of obtaining and recycling waste markers. Marker caps can be recycled with most hard plastics and the marker barrel can be recycled after the tip and reservoir are removed. In addition, Crayola’s ColorCycle program allows schools and other groups to collect spent markers and ship them free of charge to a processing facility where they are converted into clean-burning fuel. This process uses the entire marker and does not require any dis-assembly beforehand.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: In this day and age, more and more customers are demanding environmental accountability from the organizations they do business with. What is your business doing to show that recycling and reuse are important? If you don’t, you might find your competitors stepping forward!

Keeping Bottles And Cans Out Of Landfills

The Governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, recently signed into law a bill designed to keep plastic bottles and aluminum cans from being disposed of in regional landfills.

The new law offers financial incentives to all municipalities in Tennessee which provide recycling services to their residential and business members. The Recycling Development Council for the Southeast sees the new law as an important step in keeping valuable plastic and aluminum in the recycling stream and out of the waste stream. Both plastic and aluminum are waste resources that have manufacturing markets waiting and eager  to buy them if they are separated them trash to be recycled. Having more plastic and aluminum available for re-use also helps the state in job creation, supports economic development in the “green” industry sector, and helps to reduce strain on landfills in addition to reducing the cost associated with trash disposal.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Sometimes offering an incentive can be a big help to changing behavior. If you’re trying to get your employees to recycle more and waste less, think of ways to reward or incentivize them for changing their habits. If a department knows they can be eligible for a reward as a result of their cost saving, recycling efforts, they’ll be all the more enthusiastic to embrace recycling and encourage others as well!


Recycling Up At Shopping Malls

Before being placed on hangers or folded on shelves, the typical piece of clothing arrives at a retail store wrapped in plastic bags enclosed within cardboard boxes. This common practice ensure that the garment stay preserved and clean during packing and transport but also results in clothing stores having large amounts of plastic waste to contend with after every shipment is unpacked.

While most retail stores throw polyethylene and other thin film plastics right into the garbage, a new recycling program geared specifically for plastic waste used in the garment industry has been started by the real estate business Simon Property Group which owns and manages shopping malls and retail outlets throughout the United States.

Concord Mills in Concord, North Carolina, is the most recent Simon outlet to begin recycling and baling clear plastic waste materials. The facility has a designated  room in its shipping and receiving area which contains a hydraulic baler for compressing garment bags, shrink wrap and plastic shipping materials into one hundred and sixty pound bales of plastic. The bales are then transported to recycling facilities where they are processed and resold.

Close to one hundred and forty of the outlet’s two hundred stores are involved and the  program has recycled over two thousand pounds of plastic since last fall.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Shopping malls often have limited space for recycling and disposal so it’s important to think creatively and maximize resources. However, taking the time to think strategically about recycling is important for cutting down on waste disposal fees and your businesses environmental impact!

Schools Get Benches For Recycling

County administrators in Indiana are offering schools, community groups, and not for profit organizations with the opportunity to acquire new benches in exchange for collecting and recycling plastic caps from beverage bottles.

Lake County, in the northwest corner of the state, has started the project as a way to promote recycling throughout the area. For any group that collects over four hundred pounds of plastic caps, the country will provide a high quality indoor and outdoor use bench made of recycled plastics.

The county has allocated funds to purchase as many as twenty benches from regional manufacturer, Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, Indiana. Benches will be awarded to groups once the redemption of the collected bottle caps begins. It takes nearly four hundred pounds of recycled plastic to make each bench, so the collection of the waste plastic helps to defray the overall cost of the bench. Each community group will be limited to acquiring four benches in the initial round of the recycling program.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Is your town using strategic thinking to promote recycling and green businesses? Collaborating between different groups is a great way to work together and support both community and business needs. If your town isn’t doing something like this, take the first step and ask! You may find more support and interest than you expected!

Alternative Wood Decking Increases Plastic Film Recycling

Southern California alternative wood decking manufacturer Trex, is increasing its collection of thin-film plastics in its home-base and hopes to expand operations throughout the country.

Since 2008, Trex has partnered with regional dry cleaners, grocery stores, hospitals, and the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park for collecting the unwanted lightweight plastic film and bags it uses in the manufacturing of wood alternative decking and construction materials. Trex decking is made of ninety five percent recycled material, combining sawdust with recycled items such as bread and sandwich bags, plastic newspaper sleeves, and grocery and dry cleaning bags.

Using compressed-air mini-balers, Trex has able to make the collection and storing of the waste materials easier and less expensive for their participating partners. Company officials hope that it is this convenience and ease of use that will allow operations to expand in the coming years.

In 2011, over one billion pounds of plastic film and bags were recycled in the United States. More than half of all that recycled plastic material was acquired by the businesses in the plastic and alternative decking and construction materials industry.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: In construction and remodeling, the alternative materials market is a growing one. The plastic grocery bags you choose to recycle today not only help reduce trash in landfills but they also help new “green” businesses to grow and develop!

Using Recycled Plastic For Bridge Repair

County administrators in New York state have made the decision to use materials made of one hundred percent recycled plastic when repairing the Dean Road Bridge in the village of Clare.

The St. Lawrence County Highway Department is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the bridge and will be replacing the decking using a product called Struxure, manufactured by the green-friendly building materials company, Axion International.

The recycled plastic materials that were used to create the boards resulted in over thirty thousand pounds plastic being diverted from landfills across the country.

The county used Struxure boards on another project the prior year that originally called for the use of concrete forms. The boards were much easier to install and have proven durable in the tough weather conditions of upstate New York. The boards easily withstand water and the salt substance used to treat snow and ice and so the county has determined their use an effective cost saving and environmentally friendly measure.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Whether it’s your own business or the activities of your local government, it pays in more ways than one to be on the look out for cost effective green alternatives. Technology is advancing rapidly in green options for the construction and municipal repairs sector, and you might be surprised by the options, alternatives, and savings!

Opportunities Increase With Rigid Plastics Recycling

Last year, the recycling of rigid plastic materials (not counting bottles) increased by thirteen percent in the United States to a level of almost nine hundred and fifty million pounds. This increase was contributed to consumers’ ability to recycle these materials within their residential and business communities which has now reached an all time high of fifty seven percent nationwide.

There are over fourteen hundred cities in the US that collect recycling for rigid plastic which includes items such as cups, containers, and trays made of both PET and HDPE plastics. For those cities that offer recycling of these items, the personal recycling rate tops sixty percent.

Popular and in-demand uses for recycled rigid plastic includes the manufacturing of buckets, pipes, auto products, food storage containers, crates, kitchen tools, and other housewares.  The growth of “green” storage products, tools, and furniture has continued to grow as individual and business consumers are presented with more buying options and prices comparable to similar items not classified as environmentally friendly. Increased recycling rates mean more available materials for manufacturers which translates to lower production and pricing costs.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Increasing recycling rates is a win-win situation for everyone. Recycling more at home or work cuts down on your waste disposal costs and in turn make recyclable materials, like rigid plastic, more readily available to manufacturers who can then produce, at a lower cost, the items we need for work, school, and recreation. Going green is a winning proposition!