Beverage Container Deposit Laws Need to be Nationwide

Day 277 – It’s not a difficult concept to understand.

  1. When a retailer buys beverages from a distributor, a deposit is paid to the distributor for each container purchased.
  2. The consumer pays the deposit to the retailer when buying the beverage.
  3. The consumer receives a refund when the empty container is returned to a supermarket or other redemption center. 
  4. The distributor then reimburses the retailer or redemption center the deposit amount for each container, plus an additional handling fee in most states.
  5. Unredeemed deposits are either returned to the state, retained by distributors, or used for program administration.

The Can Manufacturers InstituteGlass Packaging Institute and National Association for PET Container Resources have come together to push the idea of a deposit program. The associations say deposit systems lead to higher recycling rates, as well as to better quality material.

“The organizations also say the increase in deposits can decrease litter, provide more pure material beneficial to each of the industries they represent and produce a resilient supply of material needed to make new beverage containers.” – Recycling Today

Ten states plus Guam participate in a deposit program and these programs are making a difference.

According to the Container Recycling Institute, in 2018, in the 10 states with deposit systems, recycling rates for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, glass bottles and aluminum beverage cans were 62 percent, 64 percent and 77 percent, respectively. That’s compared with countrywide recovery rates of 28 percent, 40 percent and 46 percent, respectively.” – Recycling Today

The can, glass and plastic companies want their containers back. The only way we can move from a single-use society to a circular economy is to get these highly recyclable materials back to those that can use them again. Otherwise, they will continue ending up in the landfill or incinerator.

Does your state have a deposit law?

Tomorrow, when sustainability and art collide.

Recycling Facts

Day 232 – There are currently over 2,000 landfills in the United States. The reason we have so many landfills is due to the fact that we, Americans, throw a lot of stuff away. We are constantly tossing things in the trash without giving a second thought as to where it goes. If we just took a moment to ask, “Where is away?”, maybe we could start making changes in our behavior to minimize the amount of waste we produce.

Rubicon is the leading provider of cloud-based waste and recycling solutions for businesses, governments, and organizations worldwide. With more than 4.9 million service locations, Rubicon focuses on developing software solutions that bring new transparency to the waste and recycling industry—encouraging customers to make data-driven decisions that lead to more efficient and effective operations as well as more sustainable outcomes.

Rubicon put together a list of 50 Recycling and Landfill Facts That Will Make You Think Twice About Your Trash. I thought I would just share 20 of them in hopes it will get you thinking about trash and ways to start reducing your amount.

  1. Nine-tenths of all solid waste in the United States does not get recycled.
  2. Landfills are among the biggest contributors to soil pollution – roughly 80% of the items buried in landfills could be recycled.
  3. The U.S. recycling rate is around 34.5%. If we’re able to get the rate to 75%, the effect will be like removing 50 million passenger cars from U.S. roads.
  4.  9 out of 10 people said they would recycle if it were “easier”.
  5. The United States throws away $11.4 billion worth of recyclable containers and packaging every year.
  6. In the United States, we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour – about 42,000 per minute, or about 695 per second.
  7. The amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
  8. According to a study done by the University of Georgia, 18 billion pounds of plastic trash winds up in our oceans each year. To put that in perspective, it’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic…compounding every year.
  9. Over 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic entanglement and ingestion.
  10. Glass, like aluminum, is infinitely recyclable – without any loss in purity or quality.
  11. Glass container manufacturers hope to achieve 50 percent recycled content in the manufacture of new glass bottles. This achievement would save enough energy to power 21,978 homes for one year and while removing over 181 tons of waste from landfills monthly.
  12. In only three months, enough aluminum cans are thrown out in the United States to rebuild all of our commercial air fleets.
  13. You can make 20 new cans from recycled material using the same amount of energy that it takes to make 1 brand new can.
  14. While the United States celebrates the holidays, Americans produce an additional 5 million tons of waste (four million of the 5 million tons consisting of wrapping paper and shopping bags).
  15. The majority of the 4 million tons of junk mail that Americans receive annually ends up in landfills.
  16. On average, Americans use 650 pounds of paper a year. Each.
  17. Americans make nearly 400 billion photocopies a year, which comes out to 750,000 copies every minute.
  18. The average office worker in the United States goes through roughly 500 disposable cups annually.
  19.  2,000 pounds (or 1 ton) of recycled paper helps to save over 350 gallons of oil, 17 trees, and a large portion of landfill space
  20. Of the 62 million newspapers printed daily in the United States, 44 million will be thrown away (roughly 500,000 trees).

Until we begin to realize that even though our trash may leave our house, it is not leaving our town or city. It is just being transported to another location, where the pile will continue to grow and grow. When will we begin to realize that a change needs to happen? Maybe when that pile becomes so large that the trash finds its way back to your home.

Tomorrow, a use for mango skins you most likely had no idea was possible.

4Ocean: On a Mission to End the Ocean Plastic Crisis

Day 202 – It all started in Bali, Indonesia in 2015. Friends, Alex Schulze and Andrew Cooper saw first hand how the plastic pollution problem was negatively impacting the marine life and those that lived along the coast.

After speaking with local fishermen whose livelihoods were negatively impacted by plastic pollution, Alex and Andrew decided to build a company that would hire boat captains and fishermen in communities heavily impacted by plastic pollution as full-time, professional cleanup crew members to recover plastic and other harmful debris from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines seven days a week.” – 4Ocean

4Ocean uses some of the plastic pulled from the ocean to create products (shoes, jewelry, phones cases). They also offer items that can swap out your single-use plastics (water bottles, bamboo utensils, reusable straw). They pull one pound of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines for every product purchased. 4ocean has cleanup divisions in Florida, Bali, Haiti, and Guatemala, and recovers millions of pounds of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines every year.

4Ocean is a certified B-Corporation and a 1% for the Planet member. Their captains and crews have recovered 16,035,392 pounds of plastic, and counting, since 2017.

4Ocean hopes that their business model will have to change in the near future. They hope there won’t be any more plastic to pull from the oceans, rivers and coastline. They imagine a world with plastic free oceans.

Tomorrow, a company using plastic bags to create eco-friendly decking.

Does Infinitely Recyclable Plastic Exist?

Day 138 – Wouldn’t it be amazing if companies were responsible for the products they manufactured? We’re not just talking about in the beginning, at the moment of purchase, but at the end, as well. The consumer needs help to figure out how to responsibly dispose of their “stuff” and manufactures are nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, more times than not, the consumer is left to navigate the confusing world of recycling and for those that don’t have the time and patience, the landfill seems to be the only option.

It is cheaper for manufacturers to use virgin resin (new plastic) then it is to use recycled plastic. Add the fact that in many countries there are no rules or regulations in place to steer companies away from single use plastics. Combine that with zero infrastructure to deal with the absurd amount of plastics flooding waste management facilities and you have a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, science is coming to the rescue.

“A multidisciplinary team from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has created a plastic that can be disassembled at a molecular level using an acidic solution. Then, it can be reassembled with a new color, texture, and shape, again and again. Unlike traditional plastic, which can only be recycled two or three times at most, this material, called poly(diketoenamine), or PDK, is infinitely recyclable.” – Earth911

Even though the initial creation of PDK is expensive to manufacture, it is significantly less expensive to recycle this type of plastic compared to the very popular, PET and HDPE plastics. Recycled PDK will even be less expensive than virgin plastic, making it very appealing to manufactures.

While it’s helpful to have plastics that are infinitely recyclable, we also need to hold companies accountable for the products they produce. The responsibility can longer be placed solely on the consumer. We need to start supporting companies with take back programs and trade in options. By supporting these companies we are making it very clear that we are tired for carrying the burden and need other companies to step up and create a plan to help the planet.

Tomorrow, products on Amazon that are environmentally friendly.