Archive for Recycling

DART Misses the Bullseye with its Greenwashing Efforts…

Styrofoam fights come and go. NYC was stopped from enacting its styrofoam ban by good legal maneuvering by DART Corporation and by DART’s ridiculous claims that styrofoam food containers are easy to recycle.

The reality is that anything can probably be recycled from a pure chemistry standpoint. The point is, can it be sustainably recycled?

In this case, the answer is no. Styrofoam is essentially air and polystyrene. When recyclers move materials they need to move large loads by weight over the shortest distance possible with the material having the greatest value possible.

Styrofoam food packaging fails on almost all fronts. It does have a potential value, but shipping it to the midwest is not the solution.

Styrofoam beads in residue

It is also a significant contaminant as you can see in the photos posted. These photos are at a paper mill that makes new paper from old cardboard boxes. All that white junk is styrofoam packaging. Not really useful.

Styrofoam in pulp residue

Styrofoam food packaging is a product whose time has come and gone. It is not sustainable, it is harmful from an environmental standpoint and it wastes resources.

Any claims to the contrary are greenwashing.

Read the full article:
N.J. schools make efforts to ban Styrofoam food containers

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Is it Recycling or Scavenging?

The article in Craines NY Business outlines a young entrepreneur who is getting rich on the labor of the less fortunate while he is probably undermining years of recycling education in the City of New York. There are really two questions here.

The first is that the company its relying on people scavenging (allegedly) through the unseparated garbage of certain commercial and apartment complexes to find redeemable cans and bottles.

gray market recycling operationOn its face, there are problems here. The fact that people are not separating the materials in the first place is a violation of City law. The fact that he is offering property owners a service that essentially says don’t do more to separate your recyclables as required by law is probably a violation of City Law. The fact that he is operating a gray market recycling operation without a Business Integrity Commission License is certainly a violation of the spirit of the law.

I am all for doing what can be done to enhance recycling in all locations. Recycling creates jobs and in many programs helps to employ low skilled laborers in meaningful employment while they perform a valuable service.

Unfortunately, this program relies on people to whom this “entrepreneur” is not offering any job benefits…wages, health benefits,etc…On whose earnings he does not pay any taxes as an employer is required to do. His “employees” make no contributions to their future social security or medicare payments and the company makes limited contributions to the local economy.

In many poor countries scavengers scour landfills and garbage dumps for recyclable materials and sell them to people like this gentleman. Is this really how we want to have recycling work in this country?

Let’s think again.

Read the full article:
Conrad Cutler built an empire on recycling cans. But he’s putting a dent in city revenue

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A Bit of Good News for a Change

S-981 Electronics Recycling BillOn January 9, the Governor, in a complete surprise to all parties, signed S-981, the electronics recycling bill that has been passed, pocket vetoed and passed again.

This bill, now P.L. 2016-85 clearly makes the manufacturers of certain electronic devices, responsible for the cost of their recycling. It is a true producer responsibility law.

The signing of this bill is a good example of what can be accomplished when people engage in a democracy. Individual citizens, towns and counties united to send letters, pass resolutions and inundate the Governor’s office with encouragement to sign the bill. DEMOCRACY DOES WORK…

I have waited to write about this because as in many laws, the devil is in the details. The key here is what the NJDEP will do to implement the law. This is still a question.

My primary concern is that the manufacturers will try to undermine the law by trying to continue to underpay for the recycling service then cry to the legislature that they tried to make it work, but couldn’t. DEP has the tools to stop this, and I trust that they will do so.

We shall wait and see…but this is a good first step.

Read the full article:
PREVENTING THE E-WASTE STREAM FROM BECOMING A FLOOD

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Do you know where your e-waste is going?

e-wasteBloomberg recently reported that it probably found your e-waste…in a small town in Mexico being disassembled by workers who are unprotected from the Lead, Mercury or other toxic chemicals in the phones, computers or other electronics shipped there. And it is shipped there in spite of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) laws that say the manufacturers are responsible for this waste.

The problem is complex and simple at the same time. It is complex because EPR laws are riddled with loopholes that allow the manufacturers to skirt their responsibility. It is simple because the reason is simple. Manufacturers simply want to shift the costs to local governments rather than do what is right.

Government is not off the hook. How many local governments actually follow up on contractors that they higher to insure that the e-waste that they collect is processed in a responsible manner? Many turn a blind eye since they are also driven by the need to keep costs down.

This has to end. We do not have the right to risk the health and safety of poorer people because we do not want to pay $5 more or even $35 more for our electronic devices.

Read the full article:
We Found Your Last Smartphone, Next to Your Old VCR

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