It’s important to be informed about the world around us, but sometimes life gets in the way and a good story slips by. That’s why we’re bringing you a collection of top stories from the waste and recycling industry you might have missed this month.
Top Stories from our Communities
Thanks to a Bellevue, WA company, ecoATMs help consumers dispose of electronic waste. Recycling old electronics is finally as easy as hitting a few buttons. This month, the company Outerwall hit the threshold of 4 million devices for their ecoATMs. These machines can take just about any small electronics: old cell phones, MP3 players, tablet devices, and more. There are locations in 42 states and currently 1,890 ecoATM kiosks across the country. With 1,000 new machines added in the last year, they are expected to continue to grow the business.
There are more things that can be “recycled” than you might think! Recently, the Tucson Medical Center offered recycling of child car seats, but not in the traditional sense. Car seats could be donated so that other families who are low-income or in need could put them to use again. The car seats first needed to be inspected by professionals to make sure they were in good working condition and had not passed their expiration date. Those that did not make the cut would be broken down and donated to companies so their parts could be reused.
If old, unwanted tires can’t be thrown in a landfill, where are they supposed to go? A waste-to-energy company based near Houston, TX explains the challenges of turning waste tires into energy. But the future is bright for used tires and it is an exciting time for the waste-to-energy industry. Global Clean Energy Inc. launched a project called Reforming Environmental Salvage into Clean Usable Energy (RESCUE) and it recycles tires and other debris into energy using new technologies. The process is becoming a more popular idea and there are many similar projects going live in the near future.
A town outside of Nashville will soon be receiving its own waste-to-energy plant. The plant will bring a new gas fuel to Lebanon, Tennessee. The fuel is converted from blended wood, tires, and sewer sludge. The result is a synthetic gas that has the ability to generate up to 300 Kw of electricity per day. That energy will be used to power the facility and the wastewater treatment plant next to it. This plant is planned to be one of the largest in the world of its kind and it is expected to divert more than 8,000 tons of debris from the landfill.
Top National Stories
A report, called “Improving Livability in Los Angeles,” was headed by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana. The 47 page report suggests that authorities in LA need to make major changes in the way the city handles issues that deal with illegal dumping. It also outlines suggestions for a rating index system that could be implemented to gauge waste levels in the city. The current system relies on residents of the city to alert officials of illegal dumping sites. Sometimes large sites of dumped trash and bulky items, like furniture, can sit around for months before a report is filed.
Keurig has been in the headlines for both good and bad reasons. These machines now hold about 1/3 of the coffee market, but they also are a threat to the environment. Last year alone, enough K-cups were sold that if they were lined up end-to-end, they would easily circle the earth 10 times. With the controversy and environmental concerns, Co-founder of the single serve cups, John Sylvan, admitted to sometimes having regret from inventing the Keurig, and doesn’t even own one himself. The Keurig doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, especially with the potential to also use them for hot foods and cold beverages.
Apple’s iPhone reuse and recycling program began in 2011, and reports say the program is expected to expand within the next few weeks. The expanded program is planned to accept a variety of phones for trade-in other than exclusively iPhones, such as Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phones. With the current program, customers can bring in an old iPhone and trade it in for a gift card that can be used to purchase a new phone. The card values are up to $175 for an iPhone 5s in good condition. Similar deals will now be offered for competing handsets, with an unknown start date.
A new single-stream recycling system in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has helped drive up recycling rates. Businesses helped increase the rate by supporting and implementing new programs into their routine. Debris that is created from construction projects by the city is recycled and repurposed when possible instead of being hauled away to a landfill. In addition to awareness efforts throughout the general public, requirements will be enforced with waste companies. Haulers that do not meet the recycling goal will be fined.
New Jersey’s e-waste law is in the works to be updated, and city officials are looking to the practices of Connecticut as a loose model. Currently, the Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for dictating a target number of pounds the manufacturers are responsible for recycling. The problem is that when manufacturers hit that quota, recycling efforts stop and there is no way to check those numbers. With law updates, the government would be more involved in the program like that of Connecticut’s and to ensure all collected material is properly processed.
A pilot program in Manhattan Beach, California has been providing 700+ residents and 25 businesses with access to food waste recycling since its launch in 2012. It has currently kept 37 tons per month out of the landfill and has gotten much positive feedback from those who participated. The program could be expanded to all residents and businesses as soon as July. The program would make Manhattan Beach one of the first cities to offer a permanent organics recycling solution. It would also help prepare for a law that was passed that requires all cities in California to offer food waste recycling to businesses.