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

 

Source Separation helps municipality increase Diversion rates

Great to see increasing diversion success in Guelph – adding organics to their current source separation program added a 19%+ diversion to their current rates, jumping them up to almost 70%.

Aiming to hit targets of 70% by 2015 –Metro municipalities can look to success stories like Guelph and others, where source separation ensures clean recycling streams and highest possible recovery.

As the Metro Vancouver region is currently engaged in discussion around best practices and optimal models for recycling, it is encouraging to see that many other municipalities focused on diversion are sticking to source separation.

See Nicole’s comments in her blog post, another local recycling company supporting best practices for diversion and recovery.

Nicole Stefenelli @ Urban Impact: Guelph achieves 67% waste diversion

Solid Waste Magazine: Guelph tops waste diversion ranking: WDO

 

 

Zero Waste Conference

Last Wednesday, Metro Van held its annual Zero Waste conference yesterday with the theme of ‘re-thinking our waste’.

The conference focused on 2 areas:

  1. Cradle to Cradle design and innovation for a circular, closed loop economy
  2. The problem of food waste, both ‘pre-consumer’ (i.e. food that expires or we throw out before it gets to our plates) and ‘post-consumer’ ( i.e. prep remnants, plate scraping and leftovers) for Metro’s 2015 food scrap bans in the landfill

Keynote speakers included Dame Ellen MacArthur Continue reading…

Trash Talk #11 – Dr Braungart

BoC Dr Braungart 2Last night, on the eve of Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Conference (www.metrovancouver.org/zwc) , the Board of Change (www.boardofchange.com ) hosted a Round Table conversation with the German chemist turned ‘Cradle to Cradle’ prophet, co-founder of EPEA (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (www.epea-hamburg.org), co-author of Re-making The Way We Make Things, and keynote speaker at Metro’s 2013 Zero Waste conference, Dr. Michael Braungart.

It was a close up conversation, with room for only 40 Board of Change members to attend. Continue reading…

Ask the experts: How do I establish a successful food scraps and recycling program at the office?

Business In Vancouver – Ask the experts: How do I establish a successful food scraps and recycling program at the office?

Tue Oct 1, 2013 12:01am PST

Source: http://www.biv.com/article/20131001/BIV0115/310019952/0/SEARCH/Ask-the-experts:-How-do-I-establish-a-successful-food-scraps-and-recycling-program-at-the-office?

Ask the experts: How do I establish a successful food scraps and recycling program at the office?

Engagement and reward are keys to successful workplace recycling and composting programs Continue reading…

Trash Talk #12 – Ditching Dumpsters for Livable Laneways

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is what the dumpsters that regularly occupy the lanes immediately west of Main St between 7th and Broadway, look like when you bring them all together for a big community party!  We were on-site at the Autumn Shift Festival this weekend to provide recycling for a great community event, but instead found ourselves surrounded by dumpsters.

Autumn Shift 9

If you care to count, there are 14 of them occupying 2 short lanes servicing just a handful of businesses. In the daily lives of BIA business members and the public living and shopping in the area, they present an uninviting
landscape in what could otherwise be a beautiful Livable Laneway!

These trashy eyesores are common fare in our city lanes (and in some cases, on our side walks).

Beyond being an undesirable blemish on public spaces that groups like Liveable Laneways would like to banish, in their efforts to transform, animate and re-claim these lanes for public use and interaction, these ‘one size fits all’ dumpsters can be a detriment to recycling, and undermine Continue reading…

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

Folk Festival 2013 – the results are in!

IMG_2418Another successful Folkfest has wrapped for the year and the numbers are in!

As many of our clients and TrashTalk readers know, Recycling Alternative and Folkfest have been partnering for over 15 years together to do some serious trashbusting and ensure the FolkFest’s trashprint is light on the planet and makes both organizers and festival goers alike feel great about being part of the solution!

Every year the Recycling Alternative and FolkFest Environment team meet in the weeks leading up  to prepare the waste reduction plan for the site.  Together our aim is to: Continue reading…