As we head into 2019, M-PASS is keeping an eye on important issues for the recycling industry – including important topics from 2018 which will continue to be in the news and new trends and ideas the industry will be looking at this year.
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH …
Glass recycling continues to be a difficult issue, though work to improve efforts to recycle. Glass also continues.
Some key findings from the Glass Recycling Coalition’s 2018 Glass Recycling Survey:
- Expectations of consumers and residents to be able to recycle glass decreased slightly (3%).
- Concern about glass recycling decreased by 14 percent among public-sector respondents, while concern increased among glass industry respondents by 14 percent. Both sectors identified cost-effectiveness as a top concern.
- Respondents care what happens to recycled glass.
During 2018 China continued increasing its ban and restrictions on recyclables.
Waste Dive reports that China has announced plans to restrict imports of eight different scrap categories – including aluminum, steel and copper – starting July 1. According to the Bureau of International Recycling, these materials previously were on the “unrestricted” materials list, but will be subject to restrictions and government approval under the new regulations. These actions move China closer to its goal to eliminate solid waste imports by 2020, according to Recycling International.
Organic recycling is expected to increase in 2019, driven by legislation and consumers’ demands for increased sustainability. On December 20th, the President signed the Agriculture Improvement of Act of 2018. The Farm Bill includes eight new provisions and programs to reduce food waste, including pilot funding to support state and local composting and food waste reduction plans in 10 states, creation of a Food Loss and Waste Liaison position within the USDA, and clarification and expansion of liability protections for food donations. These provisions reflect longstanding recommendations of Farm Bill Law Enterprise (FBLE) member, Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic
And sustainability is listed as one of Food Dive’s “6 Trends to Impact the Food Industry in 2019,
No Surprise: Already a climate change leader, California takes on food waste
Entering 2019, industry experts predict that the use of smart technology will continue to grow, as the industry works to clean up recycling streams, improve safety, strengthen operations and create new job opportunities.
Industry Experts Provide 2018 Highlights, 2019 Predictions
The scrap marketplace has become increasingly global in recent decades and the United States is the largest exporter of recycled commodities in the world – exports of all scrap commodities from the United States increased to nearly 38 million tons last year.
2018 Recycling Industry Scrapbook The industry anticipates continued growth in 2019, providing jobs and increased economic activity.
Political and Legislative
In addition to national legislation like the 2018 Farm Bill, states and cities are also taking action.
Starting January 1, 2019, New York City stores and foodservice businesses can no longer offer, sell or possess single-use foam food containers, such as foam takeout clamshells, cups, plates, bowls and trays. And manufacturers and stores may no longer sell or offer for sale packing peanuts or other loose-fill packaging in the city.
DSNY: Foam Ban for Businesses Begins
Hennepin County, Minnesota (Minneapolis) enacted revisions to its recycling ordinance in 2018. The biggest change requires companies generating large quantities of food waste —restaurants, grocery stores and hotels — to implement organics recycling by January 1, 2020.
Plastic items continue to disappear as Boston enacts a plastic-bag ban, California became the first state to ban plastic straws (unless requested at dine-in restaurants) and Los Angeles goes a step further with an effort to completely ban plastic straws in local restaurants by 2021.
For the first time since late 2015, Montgomery (AL) is getting ready to open its recycling facility. Through a partnership with Repower South, the city will ramp up machinery to fine tune the addition of more than $10 million in equipment to the existing $37 million facility before running all of the city’s trash through the building sometime in January.
In December BioHiTech Global, Inc., a technology and services company that provides cost-effective and sustainable waste management solutions, announced it had completed the acquisition of an additional 26.8% ownership stake in the nation’s first HEBioT™ renewable resource recovery facility located in Martinsburg, West Virginia, making it the largest owner of the facility. This facility is expected to generate $7 million of annual high margin revenue beginning in 2019, utilizing a patented high efficiency mechanical and biological treatment process for the disposal and recycling of mixed municipal solid waste into an EPA approved solid recovered fuel. The HEBioT Process is expected to divert from landfills as much as 80% of the waste that enters the facility.
In November, the Northeast Recycling Council released a list of 17 North American paper mills that have announced an increase in their capacity to process recycled paper. The list includes 15 in the U.S. and two in Mexico, and includes new mills as well as mills adding recycled fiber capacity or converting what they process.
The Circular Economy
Introduced by researchers in 1976 the term “circular economy” is increasingly heard in the recycling industry, as business and organizations are working to develop and implement solutions to landfill diversion and focus on sustainable package design, waste reduction, and the concept of reuse and upcycle.
Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce promotes change in their Sustainability and Circular Program. This program states that the linear economy approach of extracting natural resources from the ground , made into products, used, and thrown away has proved to be highly successful in delivering economic development in past years. It acknowledges, however, that global trends indicate that the ability of this traditional model to produce economic growth is being increasingly challenged, requiring search for alternative approaches that can work in the long term. As a result of our throwaway society, natural resources are being depleted at an accelerating rate, and the ecosystems upon which business and society depend on are being degraded or destroyed.”
CLOSER TO HOME
According to Gloria Hardegree, the Georgia Recycling Coalition is “…taking a What’s your Focus for 2019 approach based on some of the main topics that came out of the Resource Recycling conference last fall.”
Here are some ideas
- Zeroing in on a clean stream and how to lessen contamination;
- Glass recycling: fact vs. fiction.
- Broken glass is accepted for recycling;
- Glass has not been hit by China’s policies
- There are strong end markets for glass
- Labels and organics present no problem for recycling glass
- Demand for glass is about 11 million tons per year in the U.S.
- By the numbers: Metrics and data have been growing topics of focus in the industry; Stay Tuned: GRC is working with the state to adopt the Municipal Measurement Program launching in early 2019—a collaboration of Re-TRAC and the Recycling Partnership. It will be free for local governments and replace our Measure GA program.
- More organics/composting growth/infrastructure: with the national wasted food reduction goals, efforts are ramping up at the Community Based Compost level as well as small scale site opening and large scale manufacturing sites in the works. This area is starting to gain traction in Georgia.
Source: Georgia Recycles newsletter, Fall 2018
A bit of irony illustrates that we can’t stop working …
No More Plastic was written Martin Dorey and released in 2018. The English author is an environmental advocate who says he worked with the printer “to make it one of the most environmentally friendly books of the year.” So you can imagine how he felt when the book’s distributor shrink-wrapped the book. Dorey told the BBC: We’re sleep-walking into oblivion with plastic and we need to change everything from the bottom up.
Remember that wherever 2019 takes you and your business, M-PASS is here, adapting to anticipated changes in our industry.
ADD TO YOUR CALENDAR
Global Recycling Day, March 18th
Earth Day, April 22nd
America Recycles Day, November 15th
February 24 – 25, 2019. Southeast Recycling Conference & Trade Show, Orlando FL. For more information, visit http://www.southeastrecycling.com.
May 6 – 9, 2019. Waste Expo, Las Vegas NV. For information, visit http://www.wasteexpo.com/we17/Public/Enter.aspx.
11th World Congress and Expo on Recycling
June 13-14, 2019 Edinburgh, Scotland
Theme: Recycling: Creating a Sustainable World
2nd Global Summit on Recycling and Waste Management
THEME: RECYCLE MORE, WASTE LESS: A PLEDGE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Date: July 22-23, 2019
Location: Tokyo, Japan