This week in recycling news

Paper recycled by Des Moines residents was diverted to landfill due to lack of buyers

For four months this summer, the paper that central Iowa residents dutifully placed in their curbside recycling bins ended up at the landfill where it was buried with the rest of the metro’s garbage. It wasn’t a mistake. Mid America Recycling, the company that processes the metro’s recyclables, says it couldn’t find anyone willing to take the paper.


How To Be A Better Recycler

Radio interview with Beth Porter, a recycling and sustainability consultant and author of Reduce, Reuse, Reimagine: Sorting Out the Recycling System.



Restaurant Food Waste By the Numbers (Infographic)

Approximately 25,00075,000 pounds of food waste per year can be produced by a single restaurant. Food costs can represent 28-35% of sales in restaurants, so capturing pre-consumer food loss can offer a critical boost to profitability.


The Coca-Cola Foundation Awards $500,000 to SERDC to Build Recycling Infrastructure in the Southeast

On November 12, at the SERDC Summit in Charleston, South Carolina, the Coca-Cola Foundation announced an award of $500,000 to the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC) to expand recycling in the Southeast through the launch of a Recycling Infrastructure Grant Program. Investment in physical infrastructure, such as recycling carts, material recovery facility (MRF) upgrades, recycling trucks or transfer stations to support investments in curbside recycling infrastructure, are key to dramatically increasing material recovery – connecting material generation with hungry end markets in the southeast and helping to close the loop for packaging. “With the Coca-Cola Foundation’s generous support, this grant will support efforts to expand comprehensive curbside recycling in the Southeastern United States,” said Will Sagar, Executive Director at SERDC. The grant program, implemented over the next two years, will make measurable improvements and catalyze investments in recycling infrastructure. Southeastern communities (defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia) can apply for the grant funding. Recycling carts, material recovery facility (MRF) upgrades, recycling trucks, or transfer station construction will be included as eligible under the RFP if it leads to unlocking investments in curbside recycling infrastructure overall. This program will include collaboration with The Recycling Partnership, state recycling officials, local government partners, and other organizations as appropriate. The grant targets investment in infrastructure that unlocks new material supply that is currently being landfilled. Awarded grants will include a mix of infrastructure deployment alongside technical assistance and educational materials. Organizations are invited to read more and download the application criteria for the grant at The grants will be awarded on a rolling basis. The grant’s objectives include fostering communication among these groups, promoting sustainable recycling programs, and coordinating educational and public awareness activities related to recycling. By doing so, this would further SERDC’s primary purpose of increasing the collection and recovery of materials and in turn fostering economic development.


UK incentivizes businesses to turn food waste into plastics

by Norbert Sparrow 

The government has pledged up to £60 million ($74 million) in new funding to encourage industry to develop sustainable packaging, including through the use of food scraps. “Household food scraps could be transformed into environmentally friendly plastic bags and cups,” writes the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the website. The new funding is part of an overarching goal to maintain the UK’s self-professed global leadership role in the development of sustainable packaging and is part of the country’s modern Industrial Strategy, a blueprint for the UK’s post-Brexit economy.



Washed Ashore: 4 Innovative Products From Upcycled Marine Plastic

Sarah Lozanova

There are currently 110 Adidas products that contain Parley Ocean Plastic yarns, including UltraBOOST Uncaged running shoes, swimwear, tank tops, and jerseys. 4Ocean says it has removed 1 million pounds of plastics from the oceans since 2017. Method Dish + Hand Soap. Praised for creating the world’s first ocean-plastic bottle, Method produces a biodegradable dish and hand soap in reclaimed plastic bottles. The bottles were developed through a partnership with Envision Plastics and are made from a combination of recovered ocean plastic and post-consumer recycled plastic, which results in a uniquely gray resin. The Daypack by Solgaard. Made from upcycled beach plastic from the Maldives and the Philippines, the Daypack is a very handy product for under $100. Each bag is responsible for removing 5 pounds of ocean waste and comes with a free stainless steel straw.



Humans Are Pooping Plastic, And No One’s Certain How Bad That Is

When Philipp Schwabl asked eight healthy people on four continents to take part in an experiment to see if plastic was present in their bodies, he had little idea what to expect. The Medical University of Vienna researcher, who specializes in stomach disorders, asked them to keep a food diary for a week and record whether they had drunk water from plastic bottles, what brands of toothpaste and cosmetics they had used, and whether they had chewed gum. None were vegetarian, all had consumed plasticwrapped food and most had consumed fish. They were then asked to send a piece of their stool to an Austrian government laboratory where it was tested to identify barely visible microplastic particles, which are smaller than 5 millimeters long. The study, published in August, confirmed for the first time that microplastics are deep inside humans. All eight volunteers were found to have particles of most of the nine most common classes of plastics, including polypropylene and PET. On average, Schwabl found 20 particles per 10 grams of stool.



Kansas State’s recycling growth sets bar for other Big 12 schools

by William Ridge 

Five years after moving to single stream recycling the K-State Recycling Center increased recycling from 17% to nearly 33%. The growth of the Recycling Center in the last several years has garnered national recognition for K-State. In the Recyclemania competition, a voluntary competition between colleges that takes place between February and March, K-State placed 35th in the nation in total recycling and has been the highest ranked university out of all Big 12 universities four out of the last five years.


Students at Syracuse University (SU) should consider their food waste impact

For SU dining halls, food tossed into the trash bins is sent to compost facilities. And even though the compost method is preferable to landfills, it still takes a toll on the environment. Emissions are released through the transportation to landfills and within the facilities themselves. Thankfully, the Food Recovery Network is helping to resolve this issue. By taking leftover food and further distributing it, the Food Recovery Network is avoiding unnecessary pollution. Its main initiative is its daily recoveries. Students drive to local restaurants and rescue food and deliver it to shelters. This food would otherwise end up wasted in landfills. These recoveries help Syracuse’s growing poverty epidemic, provide an opportunity for students to engage with the city’s community members and they also aid environmentalist efforts.



Combat Litter in Athens-Clarke County

by Jenna Shields 

Litter is a serious issue in the United States with over 51 billion pieces appearing on roadways each year. Litter clean up costs the country over$11.5 billion annually with only 79.5 percent of that effort covered by businesses, leaving the remainder to be covered by local and state government, educational institutions and different organizations. Specifically, educational institutions spend approximately $241 million dollars annually for litter clean up. Litter can decrease property value by nearly nine percent with home values decreasing from 10 percent to 24 percent. To empower the community to prevent litter, the Athens-Clarke County government established a Litter Hotline allowing citizens to anonymous report litter incidents via phone, email or online report.