Kickstart: Improving recycling at the curbside level
Improving recycling at the curbside level
As environmental groups, governments and the plastics industry work to ramp up more consumer recycling, they face a common problem: People tossing items in curbside recycling bins that simply can’t be easily recycled.
Dirty containers still filled with food, plastic bags and soiled pizza boxes can contaminate an entire load of otherwise recyclable items. While local groups and recyclers send out reminders and tips of the recycling rules, someone still will “wishcycle” their bags or flashlight or toaster or some other item. I frequently remove plastic bags from our community recycling bin that show up again and again. (That photo up at the top? Took that yesterday afternoon after fishing bags out of the curbside bin.)
That’s why I was intrigued to hear from a friend that her small village does spot checks of residential recycling bins. If they open it and see something like bags or greasy food containers, they mark it with a frowning emoji sticker and the recycling truck passes it by.
It’s an instant reminder, she said, of what can and cannot be recycled and residents quickly learn the rules.
She happens to live in a very small town, where it’s easier to wrap your proverbial arms around the problems of wishcycling. With rising demand for recycled plastics in packaging, however, getting a clean recycling stream into materials recovery facilities is going to be increasingly important.
The American Chemistry Council is embracing the need for higher recycled content, issuing a statement July 13 that backs the idea of a mandated 30 percent recycled content in packaging. Since less than 10 percent of plastics currently is recycled, improving recycled content at the local level is only going to get more important. Expect to more about solutions to improving the recycling stream going forward.
Dow Inc. knows a little about the supply chain and recycling, of course, and put its knowledge to work to turn yards and yards of plastic mesh fencing from the 2019 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational women’s golf tournament into 20,000 golf tees for the 2021 tournament.
The mesh-to-tees project involved a collaboration among the Dow GLBI, Schupan Recycling, plastics recycler KW Plastics, tee maker Evolve Golf and Bull Engineered Products Inc., Dow said in a news release.
KW Plastics recycled the mesh and turned it into plastic pellets. Evolve Golf provided the molding machine needed to produce the tees, then Bull made the tees at its facilities.
“Turning plastic mesh into recycled plastic pellets that become a new, useful product — golf tees — demonstrates how collaborating across the value chain can help keep waste out of the environment and extend the useful life of plastics,” Dow Senior Customer Manager Toby Smith said.
The tournament runs through July 17 at Dow’s headquarters home of Midland, Mich.
The circular cycle of ring carriers
And in another celebration of recycling, Itasca, Ill.-based ring carrier maker Hi-Cone has released a short video featuring how one Indiana couple uses the company’s mail-in recycling program.
The company worked with BBC StoryWorks’ Better Lives Through Better Business, a video series presented by The Consumer Goods Forum (CFG) on the project about how the carriers are collected and recycled.
The Ring Recycle Me program provides pre-paid shipping labels so consumers can simply drop carriers into an envelope to send back to the company. Individuals can also drop off the carriers at participating retailers.
The video follows David and Jan Isaacs as they collect and mail off rings for recycling.