Trash Talk: Reading between the lines – ‘One Bag Does Not Fit All’

We recyclers need to read between the lines when we hear people waxing on the wonders of Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF’s) and the fact that these systems are a viable alternative to good old, tried and true source separation.

Proponents of MRF’s suggest that with these systems, residents will be able to throw all their waste – recyclables, composting and garbage – into one big bag. Once at the MRF these bags will be opened and all the valuable recyclables retrieved for diversion.

What supporters of these systems sometimes fail to mention, is that once the recyclables have been mixed in with everything else, especially wet waste and compost, very little of it is good enough or clean enough to be shipped to recycling markets.

Recycling paper mills do not want the paper, as it is of very low quality once contaminated with shards of glass or food, and few compost facilities want the wet material, as it is not of a standard to re-enter the agricultural cycle.

Keeping the streams separate and clean (as they are when we buy them in product lines on the shelf at the store!) is the best way to ensure these materials will go to recycling markets. This is called source separation and it is they key to maintaining high recovery and robust recycling markets.

When reading articles such as this, on the merits of throwing recycling, composting and garbage into the same bag – we need to ask 2 questions:

  1. What % of materials going through a MRF go to recycling markets and what % goes to landfill?
  2. What is the quality of the recycling markets – are these materials turned into more product with high recovery value or considerably downgraded?

And let’s keep in mind – we already have the ‘one bag solution’ – it’s called garbage collection and it’s exactly what the region is trying to move away from in our efforts to get to 70% diversion and Zero Waste.

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/environment/big-companies-and-big-money-squaring-over-480m-incineration-plan?page=0,0

Trash Talk: Is there an alternative to the Burnaby incinerator?

As a company focused on recycling and waste diversion, we at Recycling Alternative are very encouraged to see municipal mayors standing up for source separation of recycling to ensure best practices highest recovery of these materials.

As Mayor Brodie points out, residents already understand separating and rightfully sorting recycling for their weekly collection: ‘homeowners take out the cardboard, newspaper, plastics, and we have had that program in place in Metro Vancouver for at least 20 years, and a reason for that, we believe that if you have source separation for your recycling and your organics, then the quality is the best if it’s separated at the source as opposed to being separated later.”

What many residents may not know, is that once materials are mixed together their value for recycling markets is considerably decreased and downgraded –in such cases, these fine recyclables end up in the landfill, as they are too contaminated for the recycling markets.

As Mayor Brodie rightly suggests, any collection system with a goal to true diversion and recovery, must have ‘separation at the source’.

Burnaby Now – January 24, 2014
Is there an alternative to the Burnaby incinerator?
Stefania Seccia

http://www.burnabynow.com/news/is-there-an-alternative-to-the-burnaby-incinerator-1.801287

 

Scrapping Food at the PNE!

Another roller coaster riding, mini donut filled fortnight of fun has drawn to a close at PNE 2013.

In addition to the usual suspects – rides –animals -prize homes –great music acts and the ever entertaining slice’em dice’em market place vendors, food always plays a major roll at the PNE, from candied apples and cotton candy to corn on the cob.

This year though, there was a big difference on the food front ….in terms of waste that is!

Recycling Alternative was thrilled to be included in Vancity’s ECO ALLEY  to demo our state of the art on-site composting machines.

Green Good Composters provide one of the best on-site solutions for food waste. The technology works on microbiology and heat. The microbes are similar to the ones found in deep sea vents and love to feast on food waste in a hot environment. The result is significant reduction in volume of food waste as well as the nasty smells and sloppy mess that can accompany food waste.

The machines have proven a popular and successful option for a number of local restaurants, hotels and supermarkets.

Green Good Composters come in a number of sizes designed to match the various volumes a home or business might generate.

Apartment residents love the GG02, which processes up to 2 kg’s per day, the average amount of food waste a Canadian family generates daily.

Larger generators of food waste such as restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, supermarkets and food courts can choose from a suite of the GG machine models (GG10, GG30, GG50, GG100, GG500) to best suit their needs and food waste volumes:

Site staff at the PNE used the GG100 over the 2 week fair and were so proud of the results, that they are now considering ways to introduce the machines across their year round operation to tackle and their food waste.

PNE 2013 3

Don’t Throw It All Away

BC Homes – Don’t Throw It All Away:
THREE STEPS TO RESPONSIBLE RECYCLING IN YOUR MULTI-FAMILY COMPLEX

Catherine Owen | May 14th, 2013

Source: http://www.bchomesmag.com/dont-throw-it-all-away/

Awareness of the importance of recycling has been growing steadily in the Lower Mainland. Access to recycling facilities has risen since the 1990s, but condo and apartment owners are still at a disadvantage. Some buildings don’t offer recycling facilities. Others have limited options. While single-family homes achieved a 55 per cent diversion from the landfill in 2011, condominiums only saw a 16 per cent decrease in waste. The lack of recycling services means many residents will throw their garbage in the trash can instead, remarks Louise Schwarz of Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Challenge. But condo and apartment owners can make a difference. Continue reading…

Festivals and Events – best practices to reduce and recycle

As we hit the mid-point of the summer season, (weather notwithstanding this year!), and the zenith of festival-mania in Vancouver, it’s a good time to re-visit some of the tried and true benchmarks for guaranteeing your community event comes up clean and green in terms of its waste reduction and diversion efforts!

Over the last 20 years Recycling Alternative has gained a reputation for working closely with countless community events and festival organizers to collaborate, guide, educate and help implement robust recycling at various public events Vancouverites have come to associate with summer in our city.

Here are our TOP TRASHBUSTING TIPS for ensuring your event walks the talk by setting a high waste diversion standard that organizers and participants alike can be proud of when measuring the environmental impact of your celebration. Continue reading…

Trash Talk #7 – The Cul de Sac’s and On Ramps of Social Change

Last week’s SCORAI conference (Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative) brought together over 100 academics and practitioners from many parts of the USA and Canada, to discuss the challenges of sustainable consumption, dematerialization, and what we need to do in practical terms to get there.

Among those gathered was Annie Leonard (Story of Stuff) who talked about ‘cul de sacs’ and ‘on ramps’ as telling metaphors on the trajectory of individual behaviour modification and the pressing need for broader, collective social change.

Continue reading…

Trash Talk #2 – The Challenges of Apartment Recycling

Last week Metro held a series of its Dialogues for the Region focusing on ‘Accelerating Multi-Family Waste Diversion’ (i.e. apartments and condo’s).

A tall order indeed. Compared to the 55% diversion achieved from single family homes in the region, only 16% of waste from apartments and condominiums is getting recycled. Doing the math and looking at it from the other end of the tail pipe,  the fact that 84% of waste from apartments and condo’s is going to landfill despite over 25 years of public education means we need to change our strategy dramatically in order to achieve Metro ‘s, 70% waste reduction targets by 2015. Continue reading…