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Plastics Recycling

Reduce, reuse, and please use technology to recycle

Plastic water bottles and grab 'n go containers bring needed convenience, but with the recent ban on the import of specified plastics for international recycling what will happen to them?

From the earliest age, we are taught to "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle" with each piece placed in the proper receptacle reaffirming our commitment to the environment. While plastic water bottles and grab 'n go containers bring a needed convenience to our daily lives, usage is staggering. 

Looking at plastic water bottles alone, it was recently reported that one million were purchased globally per minute or 60 million per hour - a number that quickly adds up to a half a trillion plastic bottles purchased annually by 2021. 

For the past 25 years, the United States has exported approximately one-third of these recyclable materials overseas for processing to be reused in the manufacturing of other goods, with China receiving the overwhelming majority. It should also be understood that during this same period, recycling facilities in Europe also sent their recyclables to China. That, however, has changed. 

As part of an overarching anti-pollution campaign led by the Chinese Government to clean up its own environment, China has taken a consequential step back from the processing of "foreign garbage," enacting a ban on the import of specified plastics and significantly raising the quality standards of acceptable materials.

China's effort to clean up its environment has had a domino effect on recycling globally. These materials have flowed to other countries such as India and Vietnam who are unfortunately not as technologically equipped to handle the major influx of "foreign recyclables" ultimately leading these countries to enact similar restrictions on the quality of these materials resulting in a build-up of millions of tons of plastic that go unrecycled. 

As global population and consumption grows and we as responsible environmental stewards increase our efforts to make the environment a better place for generations to come, we are now faced with a new question.

Globally, and domestically, where will all of this plastic go? 

Currently, the unfortunate reality is that in response to lack of processing capacity, an overwhelming number of plastic bottles make their way to either a landfill or the ocean. In the next thirty years, it is estimated that the amount of plastic by weight in the ocean will surpass fish - posing a serious risk to marine life and a negative impact on our very shores.

The same plastic bottles present a different set of challenges to landfills. Researchers found that from 1950 through 2015, more than 8.3 billion tons of plastic had been generated with nearly 80% of it currently within our landfills. With increased consumption rates, the number is only expected to grow; it is anticipated that more than 12 billion tons of plastic will find its way to the landfills by 2050. 

Wait. Wasn't the goal of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" to divert these materials from landfills?  

The statistics and forecasts coupled with the recent Chinese export policy changes underscore an immediate need for sustainably-focused solutions and a global mission of achieving a zero-waste-to-landfill environment. 

Utilizing automated sorting equipment and enhanced biological composting, a significant portion of the more than 100,000 tons of mixed waste Gold Medal collects annually is broken down on-site and converted to an EPA recognized Solid Recovered Fuel - achieving as much as 80% landfill diversion while reducing logistics, minimizing carbon impact and extending the life of existing landfills.

Today I am reminded of a quote by Albert Einstein, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." What was a great mission and strategy established decades ago to preserve our environment, may not be the strategy going forward. 

Globally and locally, now is the time to think differently and shift our collective mindset towards Reducing, Reusing and utilizing new technologies to Recycle. 

Michael Schmidt is a 15-year environmental services specialist and Executive Vice President of Strategic Growth and Development at Gold Medal Environmental - a market leader in municipal, commercial, and industrial solid waste collection.

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Wood Recycling

Bandit Industries completes ESOP sale to employees

Bandit Industries completes ESOP sale to employees

Bandit Industries finalized its transition to a 100 percent ESOP (employee stock ownership plan) company on Nov. 1st. Former owners Mike Morey Sr., Dianne Morey and Jerry Morey announced their intention to sell the company in an ESOP over the summer of 2018 - a move that was celebrated by Bandit's employees and customers. It ensures the corporate culture that has made Bandit a success for 35 years will remain intact.

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Metals Recycling

A look at the 2018 nonferrous market: the Wrath of the Goddess of the Earth

A look at the 2018 nonferrous market: the Wrath of the  Goddess of the Earth

This year has gone down as one of the toughest years in many for the global nonferrous scrap industry and the recycling industry overall. With new initiatives getting launched in every corner of the world to reduce waste and increase material recycling for the manufacture of new products, one would think there would be less ending up in our landfills. Unfortunately, that simply has not been the case.

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Industry News

Doosan opens 100,000-square-foot parts distribution center

Doosan Infracore North America  is opening a new 100,000-square-foot parts distribution center, serving its dealers and Doosan customers in the United States and Canada.

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Organics Recycling
Plastics Recycling

Doppstadt's Airflex 1500 Wind Sifter allows for plastic-free composting, cuts volume losses

The Airflex 1500 from Doppstadt: a wind sifter that gives the composting industry a technical solution that minimizes  volume losses.

Plastic is everywhere, and sadly, it often ends up in many green waste bins. This causes composting site operators a lot of problems: they have to carefully separate unwanted bags and other plastic components from the organic waste in order to comply with legal regulations, including those of the German Fertilizer Ordinance (DüMV). However, composting site operators also want to achieve their own goal and offer high quality products to their customers, who are involved in the compost, gardening and agriculture industries.

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Paper Recycling

REDWAVE report provides insight on the current state of the European paper recycling industry

The purpose of paper recycling is to produce high quality recycled paper, responding to the high-quality specifications required by paper consumers either from the graphic, hygiene or packaging sectors. In consequence, any collection scheme should be designed in a way to provide grades of paper for recycling adapted to the requirements of high value recycling, according to the EN 643 to the paper industry, either directly or after sorting. (EN 643 is the European List of Standard Grades of Paper and Board for Recycling.)

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Organics Recycling

Municipalities need to help to keep up with demand for composting according to USCC

Municipalities need to help to keep up with demand for composting according to USCC

Some US Composting Council (USCC) members and staff have been on conference panels with our colleagues in the traditional recycling industry during the past year, and we've heard some harrowing tales. Tales are circulating of the cancellation of glass programs, the suspension of curbside recycling contracts, and of the costly retooling of materials recovery facilities to integrate increasingly complex sortation lines in order to meet the requirements of foreign markets to accept recyclable materials.

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Glass Recycling

​TOMRA Sorting Recycling introduces AUTOSORT COLOR for separating glass from MSW

TOMRA Sorting Recycling has introduced AUTOSORT COLOR, a new machine which works in combination with AUTOSORT LASER to separate glass from municipal solid waste (MSW) with unprecedented effectiveness. Even though it is common to collect glass waste separately, a significant amount of recoverable glass remains mixed-in with MSW from households and businesses. AUTOSORT COLOR achieves purity rates greater than 95% at high throughput rates, even when input materials are wet, dusty or dirty.

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STEINERT closing 2018 with best practice workshops based on real real-life scenarios

Steniert's UniSort Black in use at KDM in Ratingen where it sorts films, dark and black plastics, metals, broken glass, stones and ceramics from green waste and structural material.

These days, a company that offers solutions does more than constructing machines. Sorting specialist STEINERT is closing 2018 with Best Practice Workshops based on real-life scenarios, where technological know-how and process knowledge are being shared at a national and international level. The workshops are spread over the 4th quarter and include hands-on training at customer premises and theoretical camps at headquarters. The Waste & Recycling division is focusing on commercial waste, biowaste and mixed construction waste.

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Electronics Recycling
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Prince Edward Island approves Call2Recycle Canada as official single-use and rechargeable battery stewardship program

Prince Edward Island approves Call2Recycle Canada as official single-use and rechargeable battery stewardship program

Call2Recycle Canada, Inc., Canada's consumer battery collection and recycling organization, has been approved by the Prince Edward Island Department of Communities, Land and Environment as a regulated battery stewardship program to collect and recycle consumer batteries. Its five-year, all-battery consumer collection and recycling plan will be implemented in early 2019. 

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Organics Recycling

Backhus turner and Doppstadt screens provide needed production and versatility for converted composting site

Kerry Weaver, operations manager at the City of Lexington’s compost site with their new BACKHUS A60 tracked compost turner.

Regulation can be a powerful business stimulus. For the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts, state regulation proved to be a huge municipal benefit as well. When the Massachusetts yard waste recycling mandate took effect in 1987, the visionary leaders in Lexington converted an outdated, unused 30-acre landfill into a composting site to eliminate transfer costs for all the green waste they were collecting. Thirty years later, the operation has become a profit machine, effectively flipping hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenses to the other side of their balance sheet.

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Organics Recycling

The Calgary composting facility is the largest in-vessel based operation in Canada

Green cart receiving outside the Calgary Composting Facility, Canada’s largest in-vessel operation.

Opened in July 2017, the City of Calgary Composting Facility is the largest in Canada to use in-vessel composting technology. Yearly, the facility can process over 100,000 tonnes of food and yard waste brought in through the City of Calgary Green Cart collection program, along with 45,000 wet tonnes of de-watered biosolids from municipal wastewater treatment. After one year of operation, the facility processed over 100 million kilograms of organic material.

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ELV Recycling

Time to rethink what can be accomplished with catalytic converter recycling data

Identifying the five types of auto catalyst through PMR’s photo grading app.

In the automotive recycling world there is endless data produced and studied by companies large and small. Being able to make sense of that data has been the preoccupation of business owners, managers and the people behind the creation of data for many years. With respect to recycled auto catalyst data, the focus has primarily been on the average value per unit. For those who are serious about data tracking and catalytic converter profits however, it's time to rethink what is possible to accomplish with data.

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Organics Recycling
Waste to Energy

Anaergia to begin construction on North America’s largest organic WtoE facility

Anaergia, Inc. has announced the start of construction at the Rialto Bioenergy Facility (RBF) in California. According to the Burlington, Ontario-based company, the RBF will help address two pressing waste management issues in Southern California: food waste diversion from landfills and biosolids management. The RBF will convert 700 tons per day of food waste and 300 tons per day of biosolids into renewable natural gas, renewable electricity, and Class A organic fertilizer. When construction is completed in 2020, it will be the largest food waste diversion and energy recovery facility in North America.

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Metals Recycling
Solid Waste

Volvo’s latest material handler continues long-term dedication to waste & recycling

The Volvo EW240E's Hydraulically elevated cab raises 16 feet, and has double-damped cushioning to reduce noise and vibrations, as well as L8 multifunction joystick with Comfort Drive Control (CDC) and a Standard arm-in-limiter prevents grapples and material from contacting the cab.

The EW240E Material Handler is Volvo Construction Equipment's first material handler designed specifically for the North American waste and recycling sector. According to Matthew McLean, product manager, Volvo Construction Equipment, the EW240E is not an example of a manufacturer simply taking an existing machine and modifying it to fit a market.

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Metals Recycling
Tire Recycling

Matt Zubick – CARI’s newly appointed chair – is focused on helping members navigate the transition back to domestic self-sufficiency

Matt Zubick (left) with CARI’s Marie Binette and Peter Racco, of Ram Iron and Metal Inc.,  a current board member, at CARI’s annual Blue Jays networking event in August.

Matt Zubick was appointed as the new Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI) Chair at this year's Annual Convention, held in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in June. Zubick has been in the scrap business his entire working life and is currently manager at London, Ontario-based John Zubick Scrap Metals Ltd., started by his grandfather after he served in the Canadian Navy during the Second World War. 

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Wood Recycling

Vermeer Damage Defense System creates a more efficient and profitable operation for WasteAway Recycling & Environmental

Mike Forsyth from WasteAway Recycling & Environmental, and Russ Cogar from Vermeer Canada, on site in Ontario with WasteAway’s HG6000 HOG with Damage Defense system.

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Solid Waste

Waste Connections completes previously announced acquisition of American Disposal Services

Waste Connections completes previously announced acquisition of American Disposal Services

Toronto-based Waste Connections, Inc. has acquired American Disposal Services, Inc. and certain affiliates, one of the largest privately-owned solid waste collection and recycling businesses in the Mid-Atlantic states.  American has total annualized revenues of approximately $175 million and serves approximately 400,000 customers in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and Colorado.

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B.C.'s Coast Waste Management Association to hire new Executive Director

B.C.'s Coast Waste Management Association to hire new Executive Director

The Coast Waste Management Association (CWMA) is seeking an energetic and engaged Executive Director to lead the organization. Based on  Vancouver Island, the CWMA fosters environmental leadership and best practices by providing a forum for discussion, education and networking. With more than 160 members, CWMA is dedicated to improving waste and environmental management in coastal communities and across BC.

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Plastics Recycling

Famed Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution stems tide of glove waste

The RightCycle Program is the first large-scale recycling initiative for hard-to-recycle and commonly used items including non-hazardous laboratory gloves.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is the world's leading independent non-profit organization dedicated to ocean research, exploration, and education. Its researchers teamed up with French scientists in 1985 to discover the Titanic, and the organization remains at the forefront of providing essential knowledge about our oceans and atmosphere that helps guide global environmental stewardship.

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