Tag Archive for recyclable

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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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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Selling Bottled Water that’s Better for the Planet

To me, the title is a contradiction in terms. By its very nature, bottled water consumes more resources to produce, requires a large carbon footprint and in the end, not matter how the container is designed, creates a waste stream.

I give the owner credit for attempting to make a container that has a smaller environmental impact than some containers, and for making a container that is made from largely renewable resources…but this is just one more unnecessary product being placed in the general market.

I am also not convinced that the container is as recyclable as advertised…not every community can recycle aseptic style packaging so to say that it is recyclable is a bit of a reach.

recycle bottled water

Essentially, notwithstanding their good marketing, the company is making a container (they don’t make the product) that is just a little less bad for the planet, not better for it.

Read the full article:
Selling Bottled Water That’s Better for the Planet
Limited free access; NY Times subscription may be required.

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