Archive for Recycling

Rethinking Recycling

rethinking recyclingAs always, my old friend Chaz Miller seems to cut to the chase with his articles. His latest speaks to the issue of how we identify recycling…specifically, as we have talked about in this blog before, what are recyclables?

The answer, as Chaz notes; they are raw material…nothing more, nothing less.

It is time that we look at recycling from the more holistic approach of sustainable materials management rather than an arbitrary number assigned to a target…It is indeed time that recycling measurements evolve.

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Refreshing the Concept of Recycling

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New Technology = New Opportunity.

We see that the issue of resource location will have a large impact on the future of renewable and clean technologies. Who controls the sources of elements such as Lithium and Cobalt as well as other metals can indeed impact the price and development speed of these new technologies.

lithium and colbaltThe Times report on this problem raises some elemental (pardon the pun) questions…but there are always options. In November, Reuters reported that recycling companies are developing new means of extracting metals from old batteries. This could be a critical source of such raw materials.

Of course our illustrious leaders have said that this is a priority…and their solution will be to destroy natural areas rather than mine existing sources through recycling…Sorry…that was mean…

This should be an opportunity..let’s not waste it.

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Metal recyclers prepare for electric car revolution
U.S. Launches Effort to Reduce Reliance on Imports or Critical Minerals
Limited free access; NY Times subscription may be required.

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Even the Times gets the Words Wrong, but the Message is Correct…We need better Recycling

The fact that recycling market news is making the NY Times is great. The fact that reporters still get the words wrong is even more telling. Throughout the article on recycling markets becoming more restrictive in China, and the impact that these restrictions will have on the U.S. recycling program, the intermixing of the word waste with items like paper and plastic highlights part of the problem.

The thinking that secondary materials are waste is exactly why we do not sort them properly in the first place. Recyclables are COMMODITIES…THEY ARE NOT WASTE. Waste is the contamination that we have been sending to China because we are unwilling to properly sort our materials.

recycling markets

Of course, if we were able to regulate the manufacture of products to make them more recyclable, there would be less confusion about what to recycle and this would reduce the problem as well.

In the meantime, remember that recyclable materials are commodities. Proper language is important.

Read the full article:
China Limits Waste. ‘Cardboard Grannies’ and Texas Recyclers Scramble.
Limited free access; NY Times subscription may be required.

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Chaz Miller…Thanks for the Years of Service

Chaz Miller recently announced his retirement from the National Waste and Recycling Association…I had the pleasure of working with Chaz over the years and his retirement article is a good summary of his efforts.

chad miller recyclingChaz knows both the solid waste and the recycling industries. His comments on recycling’s problems have always been on point.

Whether or not Chaz and I agreed on an issue, you could always rest assured that his position would be well thought out and supported by good research. Indeed, in the “old” days, I used his articles in many a class as a starting point of discussions about solid waste and recycling.

Chaz is not leaving in a sense, just moving to the next phase of work.

Thanks Chaz.

Read the full article:
Onto the Next Stage

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