American automotive manufacturer General Motors, is increasing their
total number of landfill-free operations facilities, slowing coming closer
to reaching their corporate environmental sustainability goal of one hundred
and twenty five facilities throughout the world by the year 2020.
The company’s Lockport, New York location is the most recent facility to
achieve zero-to-landfill status by converting all daily operations waste to
energy or reusing or recycling. It is the 103rd such GM facility to reach
During the prior year, the Lockport location recycled six million pounds
of aluminum and generated nearly four million in revenue. The facility is
responsible for manufacturing the heating and cooling components for a
variety of GM vehicles. The plant manager and staff credits the convenience
and ease of the recycling program as a key reason for its success. Clearly
marked bins in key locations pose no disruptions to the workflow and serve
as frequent reminders.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Whether your business is a large one
like General Motors or a small operation with just a few employees, setting
re-use and recycling goals is something that can save your business money,
possible earn you some good publicity, and contribute to the well-being of
the planet. If you’ve been thinking about creating a comprehensive materials
waste recycling plan, let 2013 be the year you take action!
The state of Michigan is vowing to improve its twenty percent
recycling rate in the new year, claiming that with a new strategic
plan for energy and environmental conservation, it should be able to
do better. The new year will see the state examining options, with a
comprehensive initiative being put into place for 2014.
Currently, only thirty-five percent of all Michigan residents are
provided with curbside recycling options. This is the lowest amount
compared to all states in the north central region according to the
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. In addition to
increasing recycling rates and reducing the amount of trash disposed
of in landfills, the state is also looking to make improvements in
green energy, evaluate the pros and cons of hyrdo-fracking for
natural gas, and urban farming as a measure to cultivate abandoned
or unused parcels of land in city areas.
The Michigan Recycling Coalition is confident that the state
could easily recycle at least thirty percent of generated waste
which would put it on par with other states in the region as well as
create additional jobs and economic growth in the collection,
processing, and re-selling of recycled materials. One simply way to
raise the rate would be to lift the currently state-wide ban on yard
and organic waste.
One area that Michigan excels in is the recycling of beverage
bottles. Due to a ten cent deposit/refund per bottle, the state
claims a ninety-six percent return rate on all bottles sold.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: As the new year
approaches, take the time to perform a recycling and waste audit on
your business or household. What areas are you doing well in and
what needs to be improved? Make a plan to investigate and implement
enhancements over the next twelve months.
In three years, the city of Gloucester, Massachusetts has
saved close to one million dollars by moving to a “pay as you
throw” (PAYT) waste and recycling system for all residents. The
three year period prior to the switch found the city paying out
close to two million dollars for collection, sorting, and
processing. City officials and residents are extremely pleased
with the change and the cost savings.
In addition to the benefit of saving a million dollars from
the city’s operating budget, the change to PAYT has had the
added environmental benefit of having a twenty eight percent
decrease in the amount of waste heading to regional landfills.
Before launching the program, the city collected more than nine
thousand tons of garbage. In 2009 that number dropped to seventy
five hundred and in 2010 dropped even more to seven thousand
The PAYT program, which charges residents for trash removal
based on the amount of garbage they produce, has encouraged
everyone to economize through increased levels of recycling and
separation of waste materials.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: While some
people will respond to the importance of preserving the
environment, most people will respond to measures that involve
their checkbook or wallet! If you’re looking to save money by
reducing waste disposal fees, pass the savings along as a
benefit to increased recycling and you’ll see greater
It is expected that the demand from manufacturers for
recycled plastic will rise close to seven percent by the year
2016 with a need for over three and one half billion pounds of
This amount is nearly one billion pounds more than what was
needed in 2012 and is due to the growing demand for sustainable
and environmentally friendly packaging and consumer products. In
addition, technologically advanced recycling processing and
sorting machinery allows recyclers to identify and use more
types of plastic resin products.
Continued efforts from federal, state and municipal
governments to cut costs by increasing recycling efforts while
limiting of charging more for landfill dumping of trash will
also assist in ensuring that the demand for recycled plastic is
met with an adequate and affordable supply.
Using recycled plastic for packaging will be the primary
market for re-sellers and recyclers with plastic bottles being
responsible for providing close to half of the demand. In 2011,
PET and HDPE plastics were responsible for filling close to
seventy percent of the market need. Business and consumer
sectors that currently use minimal recycled plastic but could
experience growth are construction products, packaging film, and
the automotive industry.
You to Remember: The business and consumer demand for
recycled plastics isn’t going away. Looking for new ways to
satisfy this need in your sector is a great way to make green
while supporting green initiatives like recycling!
Imagine if your community’s organic food and yard waste was
turned into a fuel for use in vehicles? The reality may not be
that far off based on a research report recently released by the
New York based company, Energy Vision in collaboration with
CALSTART, a consortium of business and research interests
focusing on the development of clean and innovative
transportation technologies. The group states that using biogas
originating from common organic waste has the potential to be
used as a transportation fuel.
Organic waste biogas has the potential to generate electric
power and provide heating to homes and buildings; and this is
currently done in certain areas of the United States but
converting organic waste into a clean fuel solution for vehicles
is new and innovative. However, the creation process is similar
to natural gas where as the organic waste decomposes, the
resulting gases are collected and refined so they can be used
Energy Vision and CALSTART are hopeful that communities
having forty thousand or more residents would be able to
generate sufficient organic waste to produce the clean fuel to
power their municipal vehicles such as police cars, school
buses, and snowplows throughout the year. Smaller sized
communities could form neighboring co-operatives to combine
organic waste and share the resulting fuel.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: What are
your community leaders doing to reduce costs and protect the
environment? Organic waste is something that all of us generate,
so why not have it be an asset instead of a liability!
The residents of Watertown, Massachusetts, a Boston area
suburb with a population of thirty thousand, are seeing great
success from their recent improvements to city-wide recycling
A mere four months after creating a new, curbside recycling
program, the city has seen the level of garbage generated by
residents drop by over twenty percent and the level of
recyclable material increase by close to thirty five percent.
All parties involved from city officials to residents to the
contracted waste and recycling haulers, are pleased with the
The new recycling program, which began over the summer,
involves picking up recycling materials every other week using
sturdy, sixty-four gallon containers. The plan has been so
widely embraced that many residents report the need for
additional bins or a move to weekly recycling pick-ups. While
Watertown administrators express concern that moving to weekly
recycling pick-up would erase the savings of one hundred and
fifty thousand dollars that is currently afforded the city with
the current plan, there is discussion about allowing residents
to purchase additional recycling bins beyond the one provided to
them to help fuel the recycling habit.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: The
Watertown success story shows that you can be financially savvy
and environmentally-aware at the same time. As more and more
people want the chance to recycling, cities and towns need to
consider opportunities to save money while saving the planet!
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has recently
announced that after three years of launching the state’s
comprehensive electronic waste recycling program, residents and
businesses have new recycled close to one hundred million pounds
of unwanted or outdated computers, televisions, and other
The state of Wisconsin legally bans all electronic devices
from being disposed of in landfills or destroyed through
incinerators. As a result of this state-wide policy, a recycling
program was created that was funded through electronics
manufactures selling their products in the state. In 2012 along,
electronics waste collectors processed almost forty million
pounds of waste materials, this equates to almost sever pounds
of e-waste per state resident.
With over four hundred e-waste collection points throughout
the state, residents and businesses have an inexpensive and
convenient way to safely, and legally, dispose of broken or
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Many of the
components in electronics equipment are considered hazardous
waste, so it makes good environmental sense not to dispose of
unwanted gadgets by throwing them in the trash. In some states,
private companies may offer financial incentives for your
outdated cell phones and computers, so it pays to search around
and see what disposal options are available to you!
When most people think of recycling, blue and green plastic
bins come to mind – as well as having to sort paper, plastics,
glass, cardboard into different containers. It’s a task that not
everyone enjoys doing and as a result, recycling rates can be
lower than what they should be. However, the city of Houston,
Texas is looking to change that with a new, “one bin” solution –
that looks identical to what was done before recycling enter our
Under the new proposal, residents would simply but everything
together into one bin – waste and recyclables and the sorting
would take place at a designated processing facility. The city’s
current recycling rate is a low fourteen percent. On issue is
that various neighborhoods in the city have different waste
collection and recycling services – with some areas no having
any curbside pick-up.
The biggest challenge is ensuring that quality, clean
recyclables can be saved when mixed in with general waste and
refuse. The city collects almost half a million tons of waste,
yard scraps, and recyclables from residents. Of the waste
collected, city officials believe that half of it is recyclable
and should be diverted from landfills.
To fulfill this plan the city is currently applying for
private and federal grants as well as looking for business
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: There isn’t
one set solution to improving recycling rates in your community.
It’s important to look at a variety of options and weight their
associated costs and benefits.
A judge in Oakland, California has ordered the drugstore
chain Walgreens to pay a fine of over sixteen and a half million
dollars against claims that more than six hundred Walgreens
locations in the state illegally dumped hazardous pharmaceutical
waste endangering the environment and the people residing in the
areas where the improper dumping occurred.
The claim against the drugstore chain was filed by the
district attorney’s office after inspections of waste disposal
and trash bins at several Walgreens locations revealed hazardous
and medical wasted mixed in with standard garbage. The lawsuit
was filed over the summer and the settlement was recently
The district attorney charged the stores with illegally
disposing of toxic and hazardous chemicals including bleach,
paint, pesticides, and pharmaceutical waste. Stores were also
charged with disposing of customer’s confidential medical
information in an illegal manner. Walgreens settled the case and
did not acknowledge any wrongdoing stating that the company
ships all hazardous waste to a specialized disposal facility
which incinerates the material.
You to Remember: It’s a good idea to routinely look
through what your employees put out in the trash. Sometimes, you
can spot ways to save money by noticing recyclables – but other
times, it can save you from fines and charges related to
illegally disposing of hazardous waste!
Public schools in Providence, Rhode Island have boosted their
recycling rates by almost twenty percent since September thanks
to educational resources from the United States Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) and some good, old-fashioned
Over the summer months, the city’s school administration
designed the contest called the School Recycling Challenge,
which tracked the success of each the district’s schools in a
contest to see which students had the best participation and
which building could recycle the most. The winners would receive
a trophy and special recognition from Providence Mayor Angel
Since launching the year-long contest, recycling rates have
jumped more than seventeen percent with some schools recycling
more than four pounds per student. In addition to student
participation, teachers, school staff, and administrators are
also active in recycling their waste materials and keeping
The School Recycling Challenge is part of a citywide
recycling campaign which has a goal of increasing recycling
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Who says
recycling has to be all stick and no carrot? If you’re looking
to increase your school’s or business’ recycling rate, why not
try a contest? An incentive can help to start the recycling
A Columbia, New Hampshire sand and gravel business has been
required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) to pay fines for violating the Clean Water Act. CSG
Holdings recently paid one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in
response to claims that the business’s facility was negligent in
releasing polluted storm-water from its industrial operations
into nearby waterways including the Connecticut River.
The EPA also charged that the business was discharging water
without first obtaining the required permits and did not have
sufficient plans and monitoring in place for spill prevention
and control of heavy solids, often found in sand and gravel,
being released into the water.
The Clean Water Act requires businesses such as CSG to obtain
permits and have safety controls and training in place for
monitoring outputs. Without such policies, the high levels of
sand and gravel entering the waterways can change the
environmental composition of rivers, result in beach closings
due to pollution, and negatively impact fishing and other
The EPA makes resources available to all industrial and
construction facilities to help that stay in compliance when it
comes to storm water regulations. Materials can be found on the
national website for the EPA or through each state’s department
of environmental regulation.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Compliance
with the Clear Water Act isn’t a choice – it’s a requirement.
You might think you can save a few dollars by disposing of your
industrial waste in other ways, but once you’re caught big fines
and negative publicity await you!
In municipalities where trash disposal is provided for
residents, it’s typically considered part of the routine taxes
that are paid or incorporated into monthly water and sewer
bills. However, a trend is growing where individuals are being
charged per amount of waste disposed in an effort to increase
recycling and re-use rates.
Tulsa, Oklahoma has recently adopted a pay-per-throw systems
which charges more to those who throw more into their garbage.
Those who reduce their waste output or increase recycling, pay
less. The new policy has received favorable responses from those
residents wanting to save money and reduce the amount of space
needed in regional landfills. While recycling is not required of
residents, it certainly contributes to reducing the amount of
Prior to the start of the new collection policy, the city had
less than fifteen thousand recyclers using city-provided bins.
Now, over one hundred thousand residents are recycling and
overall tonnage of recyclable material has dramatically
increased. The city estimates that it is saving close to four
thousand dollars every week in waste disposal fees due to
increased recycling activity.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: It’s a
plain and simple fact, if your town, business, or home is not
making an effort to recycle, then you are walking away from
money each trash collection day!
Hospitals and health care centers can save plenty of money
each year by increasing recycling efforts and reducing waste. A
recent study conducted by the University of Illinois
investigated various sustainable practices adopted by health
care systems and looked for areas identified as most worthy of
adoption across the board for cost savings.
Two of the primary areas were to reduce waste disposal fees
through increased recycling efforts and to reduce medical waste
through enhanced segregation practices within the facility.
When making a concerted effort to reduce waste, facilities
saved on average between fifty cents and two dollars and fifty
centers per day per patient. Improving recycling efforts yields
great savings with minimal upfront costs. Some of the biggest
savings were to be found in ensuring that medical waste, which
is more costly to dispose of, be segregated from other forms
into of combined into one. Training staff and employees on new
disposal practices does take time but can yield significant cost
reductions over time.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Medical
waste is considered hazardous and needs to be handled in
accordance with state and federal regulations. However, not all
waste leaving a health care facility is medical. You can save
money and help the environment when you recycle suitable
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is
working with the New York City Department of Sanitation to
collect and dispose of hazardous waste materials from homes and
apartments damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Throughout the month
of December, residents will be able to easily dispose of toxic
products such as paints, oil, batteries, petroleum, and bleach
and ammonia, to select drop-off locations.
All hazardous waste materials must be properly disposed of to
protect both the environment and public health. Since the
devastation of Hurricane Sandy, those living in the metro-NYC
area have had infrequent and ineffective waste removal in
addition to mounting waste and debris.
In the days following the Hurricane, residents were
encouraged to disinfect and bleach all items coming in contact
with flood waters. Such action was necessary to prevent the
spread of bacteria from sewage or infection due to the presence
of toxic chemicals.
The New York City Department of Sanitation will also arrange
disposal of damaged refrigerators and household appliances, and
remove the refrigerants which contain greenhouse gases and must
be disposed of according to EPA guidelines.
You to Remember: Hazardous waste needs to be taken
seriously and disposed of according to federal and state laws.
If you live or do business in the New York City area, take
advantage of these opportunities to ensure your materials are
Whether we’re at our business or home, finding new ways to
use old or unwanted materials is always a good idea for helping
to save money. When we concentrate our energies on increasing
profits and reducing costs, every piece of garbage the ends up
in the trash dumpster has the possibility to bring in money.
When we make the decision to recycle, re-use, and re-sell, we
not only contribute to environmental and economic well-being but
we also take a less wasteful approach to our own finances.
The state of Connecticut has realized the power of recycling
as a job creator and economic development generator. In the past
calendar year, the state estimates the sales of recycled
materials to be in excess of seven hundred and forty six million
dollars. Since the state started selling its recycled materials
six years ago, the total amount is more than five billion
dollars. The state has also increased the employment level in
this sector to almost five thousand jobs.
The decision to emphasize recycling has resulted in a
decreased need for landfill space which saves taxpayers money
while protecting valuable natural resources and improving
quality of life for all residents.
You to Remember: If you’re paying garbage disposal fees
and not recycling, you are letting money slip away every month!
Look at the opportunities in your area for recycling, re-use, or
re-sale and you’ll be surprised by what you can save.
Despite the high demand and lucrative prices for recycled
scrap metal, a business in Brooklyn, New York was recently
fined eight five thousand dollars for illegal dumping of
scrap metal into state waterways.
The recent case showed that the Benson Metal Corporation
consistently dumped scrap metal from its operation into the
Gowanus Canal on a regular basis for several years. A review
by the New York State Office of the Attorney General
uncovered over one hundred dates when scrap metal was
illegally dumped into the canal.
The Gowanus Canal is one of the most highly polluted
waterways in the country and is a designated Superfund site
by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As part of the
settlement, Benson must change its loading procedures to
those recommended by the EPA to prevent scrap metal from
falling into the water during the transfer process from
facility to hauling barge. Another business, Simsmetal East,
which provides hauling services via the waterways to a New
Jersey recycling plant, must also follow best-practice
regulations in order to prevent future illegal dumping.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Illegal
dumping is still illegal even if it’s considered accidental.
Ignorance of the law or best-practices will not hold up when
the state or federal government files charges against your
business. It pays in more ways than one to say on the right
side of the law!
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
recently announced that Strategic Materials, a Houston,
Texas based glass materials recycling business, has enter
into an agreement to pay more than one hundred fifty
thousand dollars in fines as a settlement against claims
that their recycling practices violated the Clean Water Act
and federal environmental regulations.
Due to the nature of the regulations which has been
disregarded, the EPA charged Strategic Materials with the
maximum penalty of one hundred seventy eight thousand
dollars. During the settlement process, the charges were
dropped by twenty thousand dollars.
The glass recycler was charged will allowing its facility
in Franklin, Massachusetts to release polluted stormwater
into nearby waters. The company initially disregarded the
ruling to obtain necessary permits for stormwater disposal
and once permits were secured, disposed of waste water in a
manner clearly in violation of federal and state policies.
The facility was also charged with failure to conduct
routine inspections and establish measures for controlling
WasteCare Wants You to Remember:
Sometimes it might seem like it’s easier to ignore certain
laws but in the end it’s always best to make sure your
business is on the right side. When you get caught breaking
environmental laws you face fines, penalties lots of bad
publicity, and in some cases even jail time! It’s just not
If your business is involved with the collection, disposal,
or processing of scrap tires in the state of Alabama, it’s
essential that familiarity be had with the state regulations
that exist since the passing of the Scrap Tire Environmental
Quality Act. This policy regulates all aspects of scrap tires
and ensures money for the cleanup of illegal dumped tire piles.
To fund the cleanup of dumped tires, a one dollar service charge
is placed on all new tires sold.
Whether the scrap tires are being disposed of in an approved
landfill or if they are being re-sold for the manufacturing of
recycled good or materials, the law details steps that are
required to be administered and performed in order to stay in
compliance with the state.
All receivers of scrap tires must be registered with the
state and receive an assigned registration number. There are
requirement for the keeping of records, storage, and how the one
dollar fee should be collected and paid to the revenue division.
Businesses that are responsible for the transportation or
processing of scrap tires must also apply for and be approved
for a state permit. Permits are good for a period of three to
five years depending on classification.
Using the one dollar fees collected from consumers, the state
provides contracts to approved contractors to clean illegal
scrap tire dumps. More information is available through the
state’s environmental management department on how to be
selected as an approved contractor.
You to Remember: Scrap Tires are a big problem but they
don’t have to be is you follow the rules established and look
for outside manufacturing sources interested in purchasing them
to make new materials.
Is your business or sanitation department looking to do some
good this holiday season?Consider donating old, unwanted,
recycling bins that are still functional. In certain areas,
community food banks can use those sturdy plastic bins to
deliver emergency food, provide a dry place to store food, and
even use for food pantry sponsored community gardens.
Whether you’re undertaking a large, community wide upgrade of
all recycling bins, or just looking to clean out a storage area
that has been used for collecting older ones, the gift of any
number of bins could be a helpful addition to a non-profit food
pantry which often relies on donations and grants in order to
serve the underprivileged, poor, and elderly members of the
As the calendar year winds down, and the holiday season
approaches, many of us take the time to gather donations and
make gifts to the charities of our choice. This year, spend some
time looking through your business or office space. What kinds
of materials have you been storing but rarely use? Old
computers, tools, unwanted construction materials, storage bins,
furniture… Not only would many of those items be appreciated by
a community service group, but you will also save on disposal
You to Remember: Remember the old saying, “one person’s
trash is another’s treasure”? Your unwanted office materials may
be wanted by local non-profits. Take some time this holiday and
see if you can find a good home for items that are filling up
your storage areas!
Construction work relies on diesel equipment for the power to
get jobs done that are too large for humans to do. However, the
diesel emissions that come out of this heavy-duty equipment can
significantly impact the health and well-being of the people
working on the construction site and living near it.
While new federal regulations about “clean” diesel engine
apply to newly manufactured equipment, the average lifespan of
heavy equipment is 30 years – so there are many older, pollution
producing vehicles still being used every day. The Clean
Construction project, sponsored by the EPA, give owners and
operators of heavy equipment strategies and ideas for reducing
diesel emissions from old machines. Materials describing
affordable solutions for environmentally-friendly uses of heavy
equipment such as idle reduction, not only help to reduce diesel
emissions but they also help owners to save money.
Increasingly, large-scale commercial and residential projects
are requiring clean diesel specifications and use as part of
necessary contracts for doing business. Construction firms that
utilize clean diesel practices find themselves in a better
position when competing for Green Building contracts.
WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If your
business uses heavy equipment of diesel-power vehicles, take a
few moments to learn about the ways to “clean” up your
operation. It can help to environment and your bottom line!
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has
recently recognized several municipalities for the Smart Growth
Achievement National Award. The yearly award is given to
community government policies and practices that foster and
sustain sustainable initiatives to protect environment and
health of all members while strengthening local economic
Award winning initiatives include areas such as
transportation, energy-efficient buildings and housing, and
developing green economy job training, environmental health
education, and many others.
Some of this year’s communities of excellence are:
Lancaster, California for their green-friendly design of
Lancaster Boulevard into a thriving retail, commercial, and
residential neighborhood. The inititative has brought in
almost $300 million dollars and created nearly 2,000 new
Mariposa District, Denver, Colorado for turning the
economically disadvantaged area of La Alma / Lincoln Park
into a vibrant, transit-accessible district that preserved
affordable housing while increasing access to
Brattleboro, Vermont, Cooperative Building,for
constructing an environmentally friendly, four-story green
building on Main Street with a grocery store, offices,
commercial space, and affordable housing rentals.
Portsmouth, Virginia, Destination Portsmouth, for its
strategic plan and review of its land development and use
regulations to better align with environmental preservation
while preserving historic neighborhoods and fostering
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Northwest Gardens, for the
development of high-quality, sustainable and affordable
homes that have attained LEED for Neighborhood Development
Buffalo, New York, Larkin District, for the
green-focused revitalization of the Larkin District, an old
manufacturing neighborhood that involved architectural
students working with developers and the city.
The winners were selected from 25 states who submitting
applications for 47 different community projects. Winners were
selected based on the project’s effectiveness in developing a
sustainable community; fostering participation between public,
private, and nonprofit groups; and promoting both environmental
and economic sustainable development.
You to Remember: As a business owner, government
official or regular citizen, you don’t have to choose between
environmental sustainability and making money. When you think
outside the box, you can make green while saving green!