August 12th, 2009
Blue jeans are classic, and a staple in almost every American’s wardrobe. They’re comfortable, versatile, durable and they look great too. There are jeans for every shape and size and if you ever find a pair of jeans that fit you perfectly - buy them. That is, as long as they’re organic cotton or vintage. And when you’ve worn out the knees or moved on to a better fit, make use of your old jeans by recycling them. Why this emphasis on eco jeans?
Popularity: 8% [?]
July 7th, 2009
Shipping containers are at the forefront of a new era of usefulness. Traditionally used to carry goods via cargo ship, train or truck, these steel boxes are capable of withstanding huge amounts of pressure and weight. This makes them structurally stable, fireproof, mold-proof and weather-proof. Unfortunately each has a lifespan of only 20 years for its original purpose. That means when their work is done hauling stuff, they get retired and sent to junk yards or landfills even though they are still structurally solid. Now architects and designers recognize their usefulness as building blocks for homes, offices, apartments, schools and more. This home in Quebec was built by a couple intent on reducing the amount of wood that goes into building homes and also saving money. (more…)
Popularity: 100% [?]
June 26th, 2009
Written by Trey Granger, courtesy of Earth911.com
Before you deposit the next beer or wine bottle into your blue bin, here are a few things to know about recycling your favorite sand-based product:
- It has the quickest turnaround of any curbside product, back on store shelves in as little as 30 days
- There’s a strong market for recycled glass, and the demand is not currently met
- A good portion of glass that you place in your recycling bin is not actually recycled.
What is Downcycling?
According to O-I Global, the leading glass manufacturer in North America, about 1.6 million tons of glass are downcycled, translating to almost 40 percent of the 4.2 million tons collected annually for recycling. Furthermore, this 4.2 million tons represents only 25 percent of total glass manufactured, as shown in the chart below.
Let’s start by explaining what happens to all this glass that isn’t reprocessed into new containers. To do this, we need to understand the concept of downcycling.
Downcycling is the process by which materials are recycled into a product of lesser-quality. An example for glass containers would be fiberglass or using it as an additive in concrete or ceramic tiles. The decision to downcycle glass is usually based on the quality of material, but who makes that call?
“This is most often the decision of the Material Recovery Facility (MRF),” says Paul Smith, O-I’s Global Sourcing Manager of Cullet. “Aggregate use of glass is important but limited in application. The recycling rate through MRFs could improve.”
One of the issues is the popularity of single-stream recycling, where all materials are collected in one bin. The materials are then separated at the MRF using a system of magnets, eddy currents and other machines, with glass being separated based on its weight.
During this process, glass tends to be crushed, which lowers the quality and increases the chances it will be downcycled. Smith says crushing can be a negative because large sizes are preferred when it comes to reprocessing glass into new containers.
Popularity: 7% [?]
May 12th, 2009
Written by Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco, courtesy of CleanTechnica.com
San Francisco is a city that knows how to recycle. We work hard to give new life to our paper, bottles, cans and other waste.
New statistics released today show we are keeping 72 percent of all discards from going to the landfill – up from 70 percent the year before.
That’s a big leap for one year. The most significant gains came from the recycling of material from building sites – due in large part to our 2006 mandatory Construction and Demolition Debris Recovery Ordinance.
By requiring builders to recycle debris from construction projects, we were able to divert tens of thousands of new tons of material away from the landfill. This ordinance is unique in that it doesn’t require deposits or bonds, making it small business-friendly and limiting the amount of bureaucracy needed to implement the program.
When it comes to our recycling programs, we’re always in the development phase. In order to meet our ambitious goal of 75 percent recycling by 2010 and zero waste by 2020, we are constantly looking for additional materials to recycle, and for emerging markets to make use of our recyclables.
A few years back we developed—along with the company Recology, our partner in recycling — an innovative program to collect food scraps and turn them into organic soil. Local farms and vineyards now use this soil to grow crops, which are then sold back to consumers in San Francisco. We close the loop locally.
We’ve also recently started recycling almost all types of plastic. We take everything except plastic bags and Styrofoam. Most of it gets made into plastic molding and bender board.
A seventy-two percent diversion rate from the landfill is something to be proud of, and I congratulate every San Francisco resident, business, and visitor who helped us along the way. But we can’t rest on our laurels, not when there are so many valuable resources still going to the dump.
We recently conducted a waste stream analysis and discovered that about two thirds of the stuff people throw away—half a million tons each year—could have been recycled or turned to compost. If were able to capture everything, we would have a recycling rate of 90 percent.
That’s why I’ve introduced an ordinance that will make it mandatory for everyone —homeowners, businesses, or renters — to use our recycling and composting programs. If we can get food scrap collection service into large apartment buildings that currently don’t have it, we’re going to see another great year for recycling.
On a final note, the flip side to how much you recycle is how little you send to the landfill. Our disposal tonnage is the lowest it’s been in over 30 years. Our recycling programs can and have been implemented in cities around the world. For more info on our recycling programs please visit - http://www.sfenvironment.org/.
Popularity: 5% [?]
April 28th, 2009
Shelf stable milk and juice is a genius idea — buy in bulk to always have at the ready, less food waste, and it is fresher than canned goods. But with all the benefits of shelf stable packaging like Tetra Pak, they’re difficult to recycle due to their multi-layer construction. Curbside pickup often won’t take them and even some of the best recycling centers, like mine in Park City, can’t take them. In April though, the Carton Council and the 4 leading carton manufacturers banded together to improve the carton recycling infrastructure in the US. Europe has been recycling Tetra Pak for years, so it’s high time that we got on the bandwagon as well. (more…)
Popularity: 10% [?]