Recycling Updates from Around the Country

Date: 4 Jan 2019 | posted in: Waste to Wealth | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail
Long Island Towns Turn to Dual Stream

Three Long Island, NY towns with a total population of 625,000 will revert to dual stream residential recycling at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 for a trial period of several months. The towns, Brookhaven, Smithtown, and Southold, have each “agreed in principle that each would switch to dual-stream recycling programs, requiring residents to sort paper, plastics, aluminum and other metals separately.” Southold board members have not yet finished reviewing the proposal but will vote on it soon, according to Newsday. Brookhaven is by far the largest of the towns, with nearly 500,000 residents.

Dual-stream systems typically ask residents to place recovered fiber into one portion or a separate container, while metal cans and plastic bottles are placed into the other portion or bin. The new system has become necessary after Green Stream Recycling bowed out early from a 25-year contract to process commingled recyclables. Green Stream said trade restrictions imposed suddenly by China had rendered the contract untenable.


Massachusetts Makes Progress

Thanks to aggressive policies by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), more than 50,000 mattresses and box springs have been recycled by three in-state companies contracted with the state. Under the Mattress Recycling Incentive (MRI) program, funds are provided to aid the collection and processing of these bulky items, thus saving money and helping cities meet diversion goals.

To date, 43 municipalities have implemented mattress and box spring recycling programs through this grant, which pays for up to two years of transportation and recycling costs through one of the three state-contracted mattress recycling vendors: Raw Material Recovery Corp. in Gardner; United Teen Equality Center in Lowell; and Ace Mattress Enterprises in West Warwick, R.I. Additionally, the grant covers the cost of a collection container that grantees will use to sustain the recycling program after the term of the grant.

Approximately 85 percent of each mattress and box spring can be diverted from disposal. Recycling the wood, metal, foam, and fabric components from mattresses allows for the materials to be made into a number of new products, such as carpet padding, particle board, and industrial filters. In addition to the environmental and financial benefits of the program, the MRI contributes to the development of a regional recycling economy.

The mattress incentive program supports MassDEP’s long-term goal of making mattress-recycling services more widely available and cost-effective. The participating recycling vendors have been able to expand their operations, increasing volumes and purchasing new equipment.

“We have been able to expand our recycling operation, make infrastructure investments, and hire new employees as a result of the volume of material provided by these municipalities,” said Raw Material Recovery Corp. CEO Dick Peloquin.

In the town of Sherborn, the city’s Recycling Committee reports that, “The MRI program allowed us to accept mattresses for free and it’s developed into a wonderful program and relationship with our recycler. There’s no way we would discontinue this program when the grant ends; we’ll definitely keep recycling mattresses.”

This is an important development in mattress and box spring recycling as Massachusetts’s approach differs from programs in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and California, which have established Extended Producer Responsibility programs ‑ statewide stewardship bureaucracies, controlled by the major mattress manufacturers. These programs require advanced disposal fees. The stewardship programs favor companies that shred mattresses and box springs and send the materials for incineration, not recycling or reuse.

The MassDEP has also awarded more than $2.1 million in Sustainable Materials Recovery Program (SMRP) grants to 42 communities and regional groups to help increase the diversion, reuse, composting and recycling of materials in the solid waste stream. The SMRP grant program was created under the Green Communities Act.

Governor Charlie Baker said, “The funds awarded under the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program will aid cities and towns across the state in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resources, save money, and support jobs.”

During the second round of 2018 SMRP funding, 42 communities and groups will receive grants ranging from $5,500 to $197,000 for a total of $2,128,969 statewide. Funds have been awarded in several categories, including start-up incentives for Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) programs, wheeled-carts for curbside collection of recyclables and kitchen food waste for composting, large containers for collection of target materials at municipal transfer stations, school recycling assistance programs, and innovative waste reduction projects.

The state has a goal of reducing the waste stream by 50% by 2020 in hopes of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating renewable energy, and stimulating the economy.

Waste prevention and recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions by capturing the embodied energy in everyday product and packaging waste, and converting these sources into new products with a smaller carbon footprint.

“For decades, recycling has been a priority in the fight against climate change, and Massachusetts has set ambitious goals to improve waste management,” said State Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow). “This innovative Pay-As-You-Throw program will help Longmeadow residents make a greater impact with more streamlined recycling and composting. Not only does recycling make a difference for our environment and community health, but it also supports a growing industry in reclaiming old products that can continue to be reused.”


Right to Repair Movement Moves Forward

The Right to Repair Movement continues apace in the United States and the United Kingdom, and heads into 2019 with confidence in its practical and legal aspects.


Minnesota Incinerator Closing

The garbage incinerator in Elk River, Minn. will now join three other incinerators  — in CaliforniaNew Jersey, and Florida — that have announced closure plans in 2018. Less available waste — and therefore declining energy revenues — proved too much of a financial challenge for the 1,000 ton per day Refuse Derived Fuel plant.


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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Waste to Wealth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.