USDA reconfirms Existing Ban on Importing Plastic Scrap Harvested from Mexican Landfills

Unless the existing regulations are strictly adhered to, this scrap will all go to other countries now, due to their less stringent entry requirements. All plastic scrap mined from foreign landfills are considered garbage. As such, for importation to the US, the materials are required to be sterilized at 140 degrees F for 10-15 minutes to get rid of any potential organic contaminants and to prevent spreading of disease.

This regulation adds significant cost to the processing by Mexican suppliers and will result in their sending it to other countries instead. This regulation has been in place for several years, but now is being strictly enforced. It is estimated to be a 200M pounds reduction in supply to the US from this ban, having a serious impact on available plastic scrap for US plastics reprocessors (see our previous blog post https://envisionplastics.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/how-is-a-usda-ban-on-imported-landfill-mined-recycling-costing-american-jobs/).

In the spirit of full disclosure, Envision Plastics does not use landfill mined plastic scrap from Mexico. Our imported plastic scrap supply comes from approved recyclers who have adhered to all associated USDA regulations.

We welcome any other topics you wish to see or your comments on our posts.

Need more information? Envision Plastics Vice President, Tamsin Ettefagh will be happy to discuss your comments or concerns in greater depth. Contact her at 336/342-4749 Ext 225.

Move Over Virgin Plastic Resin, Ecoprime™ FDA Grade Recycled Resin Now Available

REIDSVILLE, NC, January 19, 2011 – Envision Plastics announced today that it has fully ramped up production of its EcoPrime™ food grade recycled resin at its Reidsville, North Carolina plant.  EcoPrime™ is the only recycled HDPE plastic resin available in the U.S. to be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in packaging foods and beverages.

 

“We have had the technology to produce EcoPrime™ for some years now” said Envision’s Vice President of Sales, Tamsin Ettefagh.  “But it has only been recently that demand from consumer products companies has really started to increase.  The growing emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility has motivated many companies to look at using recycled resins in applications where they would not have before, like food and beverage packaging.  With a 67% reduction in CO2 / Greenhouse Gas emissions over prime resin1, EcoPrime™ enables our customers to reduce their carbon footprint.”

 

EcoPrime™ is produced from curbside collected HDPE (#2) bottles.  The bottles are subjected to Envision’s proprietary and patented cleaning process that not only cleans the plastic but removes anything that could have been absorbed by the plastic as well, making EcoPrime™ the cleanest and purest recycled HDPE resin available.

 

“We will produce up to 18 million pounds of EcoPrime™ this year at our Reidsville, North Carolina plant, now that full production scale has been achieved” said Scott Booth, Envision’s Chief Operating Officer.  EcoPrime™ is now being used in packaging for nutritional supplements, beverages, food storage containers and some personal care products.  We expect to see even more products using EcoPrime™ in the near future as many companies are currently testing EcoPrime™ for use in their packaging.”

 

Since acceptance of EcoPrime™ for food and beverage packaging is growing, Envision is already planning a capacity expansion for an additional 18 million pounds at its Chino, California plant in late 2011 to keep up with overwhelming demand.  “We are excited to be able to help our customers with new and innovative products” said Booth.  EcoPrime™ will make food and beverage packaging more environmentally friendly while helping us keep bottles out of landfills.”

About Envision Plastics

Envision Plastics is a leading recycler of curbside collected plastic bottles.  Through the use of its proprietary and patented technologies, Envision produces a wide range of recycled resins, including EcoPrime, the only FDA approved HDPE recycled resin available in North America and PRISMA custom, color sorted recycled resins.  These recycled resins are used by some of the largest converters and consumer products companies in the country allowing them to reduce the carbon footprint of their products and helping them achieve their sustainability goals.  Envision is the only plastic recycler with national reach with plants in Chino, California and Reidsville, North Carolina.  Learn more at http://www.envisionplastics.com.

Media contact:

Scott G. Booth

Chief Operating Officer

606-B Walters Street                     

Reidsville, NC  37320

Tel.:  (336) 342-4749  ext.231

scott@envisionplastics.com

 

 

1  According to the Franklin Associates’ Life Cycle Inventory of 100% Postconsumer HDPE and PET Recycled Resin from Postconsumer Containers and Packaging, dated 4/7/2010

How Do We Get People to Recycle Their Packaging Materials More in the US?

Simple question, but very complex answer. What’s your least favorite thing to do? If we made it easier for you to do it and even made it so you liked doing it, wouldn’t you do it?

The same kind of problem exists with recycling packaging materials of any product we buy. Let’s face it, once we open the box for our new digital TV or finish the cereals, a lot of Americans toss it in the trash. And how about the water bottle when we’re finished? If there isn’t a recycle bin nearby, especially if we are out and about, it goes in the nearest trash can or rolls around on our car floor.

Let’s break the problem down first. There is no one critical area that will increase recycling rates in and of itself:

  1. Recycling is based on volunteers
  2. Volume of some recyclable materials aren’t cost effective for the recycler to collect or sort
  3. Government isn’t consistent at a federal level

Recycling Based on Volunteers

In this country, recycling is based on volunteers in one form or another to separate recyclables from the solid waste stream. The volunteers come in the persona of you as individuals or corporations/industries making the effort to put it into the right bin and government mandates. There is no penalty in most cases for putting recycling into a waste receptacle on either the thrower or the collector.

At home or in the office, a lot of us do recycle, if given the opportunity. The bigger problem is when you are in public areas (parks, stadiums, theaters, beaches, shopping centers, gas stations, etc.). Some places provide the opportunity, but even there, you often see people who would readily recycle at home, throw out recyclables in less familiar places. The recycling and waste hauling industries need to find ways to resolve this problem.

Volume of Some Recyclable Materials Aren’t Cost Effective for the Recycler to Collect or Sort

All plastics (or for that matter, paper, metal or glass) are not the same. Different grades, even within the same material categories may not provide enough volume to be economically recycled. The grades are important to efficiently bring them back into the production stream at the best level of quality and to isolate contamination, e.g., bio plastics.

Despite more recycling taking place voluntarily, the choices of how to separate has grown too. There have been many successes over the past 20 years, but there have been many forgotten materials, as well. There will probably be some consolidation of grades within families of materials, out of necessity. This runs counter to our past problem solving techniques in package development … of inventing new things or new materials to solve packaging problems.

Government Isn’t Consistent At a Federal Level

The third issue is governmental involvement. Governmental initiatives can provide a “shot in the arm” to get recycling programs running through new legislation, but individual state requirements can cause confusion and conflicting requirements, if industry doesn’t actively involve itself in legislative monitoring.

So, What Do We Do About It?

A few recommendations we’d like to see:

  • Find new solutions that make recycling easy, wherever you are, not just at home.
  • Institute “pay as you throw” programs that charge for solid waste that will be landfilled and charge nothing for recyclables (or compostables should the infrastructure exist).
  • Expand incentives programs, such as Recycle Bank, that reward recycling with points that can be redeemed to buy products.
  • Consolidate some grades of materials (not families of materials – we are not advocates of material switching to meet recycling requirements) so that recycled materials can meet more demanding applications like packaging and reduce “downcycling”.

With these types of practices or programs in place, maybe our grandchildren will wonder why anybody would not do it, just like we put our seatbelts on every time in the car, as second nature.

We welcome any other topics you wish to see or your comments on our posts.

Need more information? Envision Plastics Vice President, Tamsin Ettefagh will be happy to discuss your comments or concerns in greater depth. Contact her at 336/342-4749 Ext 225.

How Well Did Your Region Of The US Recycle In 2008?

As part of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) analysis conducted by the EPA, they had to develop a methodology to correlate the data. This report can be found at http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/06numbers.pdf. To summarize the report, the hierarchy for tailoring the methodology to the community focused on:

  • Source reduction (or waste prevention), including reuse of products and on-site (or backyard) composting of yard trimmings.
  • Recycling, including off-site (or community) composting.
  • Combustion with energy recovery.
  • Disposal through landfilling or combustion without energy recovery.

 

From this methodology, the analysis reports the following regional differences had to be factored in to determine the specific community methodology: 

  • Variations in climate and local waste management practices, which greatly influence generation of yard trimmings. For instance, yard trimmings exhibit strong seasonal variations in most regions of the country. Also, the level of backyard composting in a region will affect generation of yard trimmings.
  • Differences in the scope of waste streams. That is, a local landfill may be receiving construction and demolition wastes in addition to MSW, but these data tables address MSW only.
  • Variance in the per capita generation of some products, such as newspapers and telephone directories, depending upon the average size of the publications. Typically, rural areas will generate less of these products on a per person basis than urban areas.
  • Level of commercial activity in a community. This will influence the generation rate of some products, such as office paper, corrugated boxes, wood pallets, and food scraps from restaurants.
  • Variations in economic activity, which affect waste generation in both the residential and the commercial sectors.
  • Local and state regulations and practices. Deposit laws, bans on landfilling of specific products, and variable rate pricing for waste collection are examples of practices that can influence a local waste stream.

 

How well did your region do? For the different regions in the US, the following summary data was available on the EPA site at http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/msw2008data.pdf in tables 25-28:

Table 25: NUMBER AND POPULATION SERVED BY CURBSIDE RECYCLABLES COLLECTION PROGRAMS, 2008

The Midwest had the largest number of programs with 3,749, but the Northeast served the largest percentage of population at 84%. The southeast was lowest in both of these categories at 797 programs and 30% respectively.

Table 26: MATERIALS RECOVERY FACILITIES, 2008

The Southeast had the greatest number of facilities at 152, but the Northeast had the greatest estimated throughput at 23,238 tons/day.

Table 27: MUNICIPAL WASTE-TO-ENERGY PROJECTS, 2008

The Northeast won both categories of the number of operational projects at 40 and largest design capacity at 46,537 tons/day.

Table 28: LANDFILL FACILITIES, 2008

The Southeast had the largest number of facilities at 726.

With these differences understood, local planning can use the data to customize the strategy to reduce or manage the waste.

We welcome any other topics you wish to see or your comments on our posts.

Need more information? Envision Plastics Vice President, Tamsin Ettefagh will be happy to discuss your comments or concerns in greater depth. Contact her at 336/342-4749 Ext 225.

Recycling Rates – Progress, Yet Opportunities For Improvement

In 1960, the US generated 88.1 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). In 2008 (latest figures available from the EPA), the US generated 250 million tons of MSW. The full EPA report is available at http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/msw2008rpt.pdf. Now, that sounds bad, but the good news is that in 1960, we recycled less than 10% of that 88.1 million tons. In 2008, we recycled over 33% of the 250 million tons. The amount we sent to the landfill in 1960 was over 90% of the MSW. In 2008, only 54% of the MSW went to the landfill, with recycling accounting for 35% of the 250 million tons generated. The remaining 19% not sent to the landfill was either combusted for fuel or was composted.

How much did HDPE Plastics contribute towards recycling efforts in 2008?

For HDPE plastics in particular, we don’t have the data separated out since 1960, but for 2008, we do have the following figures from the EPA’s data provided at http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/msw2008data.pdf. In this data in Table 7, we see that HDPE plastic resins accounted for 5,350 thousand tons of the MSW generated in the US for 2008, of which 570 thousand tons of that was recovered to avoid the landfill, a 10.7% capture rate. In 1960, there was no measurable amount of HDPE recovered, but it does show that HDPE recovery programs need to be strengthened considerably, considering how other materials have a much higher recovery rate.

To break this data down further:

  • 780 thousand tons of HDPE plastics was generated as durable good with no recovery
  • 680 thousand tons were generated as trash bags with no recovery
  • 750 thousand tons were generated as natural bottles with 220 thousand tons recovered
  • 1,310 thousand tons were generated a other types of HDPE containers, with 260 thousand tons recovered
  • 550 thousand tons generated as bags, sacks & wraps with 60 thousand tons recovered
  • 1,280 thousand tons generated as other plastics packaging with 30 thousand tons recovered

By recycling more we help with:

  • Reducing methane emissions from landfills.
  • Reducing emissions from incinerators.
  • Reducing emissions from energy consumption.
  • Increasing storage of carbon in trees.

There is definitely lots of opportunity for avoiding the landfill, if programs were better publicized and more recovery was mandated/managed in an effective manner.

We welcome any other topics you wish to see or your comments on our posts. Need more information? Envision Plastics Vice President, Tamsin Ettefagh will be happy to discuss your comments or concerns in greater depth. Contact her at 336/342-4749 Ext 225.

Envision’s “Save the Plastics” Blog Read Over 1,300 Times in 4 Months

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2010. That’s about 3 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 16 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 19 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 450kb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was September 14th with 133 views. The most popular post that day was About.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were linkedin.com, envisionplastics.com, facebook.com, plasticsnews.com, and organizedwisdom.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for save the plastics, tamsin ettefagh, envision plastics blog, envision plastics, and problems associated plastics.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

About September 2010

2

3 Reasons Why NC’s 2009 Ban on Plastic Bottles to the Landfill is Crucial for Business Success September 2010
3 comments

3

If We Recycle Plastic Bottle Caps, Will They Be Used? September 2010
2 comments

4

7 Environmental Problems Associated With Waste Gasification October 2010

5

Recycling – A Job Creator, Even in This Economy October 2010
1 comment