In the Daily Digest, the Waste Dive team rounds up insights and moments you may have missed.
AMAZON STEPS UP
The e-commerce giant has announced it will invest $10 million in the Closed Loop Fund to boost recycling infrastructure throughout the U.S. According to the company's press release, this is expected to help expand curbside recycling access to 3 million homes, divert an estimated 1 million tons of material from disposal and cut the equivalent of two million metric tons of CO2 by 2028.
In a story by Bloomberg Environment, leaders from both entities talked up the need for more collaboration throughout the supply chain, and said this could help boost recycled feedstock usage in Amazon's boxes going forward. Amazon also joined The Recycling Partnership earlier this year for an undisclosed contribution.
This marks the latest in a series of high-profile corporate commitments to the recycling world in recent months, including $10 million from PepsiCo to The Recycling Partnership. As with that contribution, this new Amazon announcement can be expected to spark conversations about the appropriate role of responsibility from such large corporations and whether they're still kicking in enough to help handle all the material they're generating.
Amazon has long been a popular talking point in the recycling world for this very reason. As recently as this summer at WASTECON, the company came up in a panel as one example of how big brands can do more to get engaged. Despite having good value if recovered properly, the company's endless stream of shipping boxes have gained a reputation for filling up carts too quickly and altering the recycling stream in ways that cities are still adapting to. Questions have also been raised about whether the company's e-commerce convenience contributes to excessive consumption.
Amazon's public stance on food waste action is also still evolving, as evidenced by successful efforts to block a shareholder proposal that would have required more accounting and transparency earlier this year.
IN OTHER NEWS
San Diego City Council moves forward on EPS ban, straw request ordinance — Waste Dive
New FlexPack Recovery Challenge launched to find recycling solutions — Press Release
Closed Loop Partners and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition have teamed up to find ideas for managing flexible packaging. This new initiative will be facilitated by CLP's Center for the Circular Economy, which recently launched a similar cup challenge, and involve customized mentorship from both organizations. The challenge is looking for technologies that can separate packaging into its constituent materials, turn it into viable material feedstocks for new manufacturing processes, or other non-recovery concepts to "create chemical intermediaries or other industrial inputs from multi-material flexible packaging that support existing or new end markets." The deadline for submissions is Dec. 15.
While flexible packaging may have environmental benefits in terms of material usage and transportation, the multi-layer construction currently makes it unsuitable for standard mechanical recycling systems. A plastics industry-backed pilot is underway to see if it can be recovered through a Pennsylvania MRF next year, but key questions still remain about end markets. As highlighted at a recent Sustainable Packaging Coalition panel, alternative chemical recycling processes are currently seen as one of the more viable options for this type of material in the future.
Nine Dragons investing $300M in two new U.S. mills and buying yet another — Press Release
ND Paper, the U.S. subsidiary of Chinese company Nine Dragons Paper, recently announced plans to invest $300 million in the two Maine and Wisconsin paper mills it bought in June 2018. Among multiple projects, both sites will see the installation of new greenfield recycled pulp facilities. Shortly after that news, ND Paper announced it would be purchasing another mill in Old Town, Maine. This follows the announcement of a deal in West Virginia in August. This is the latest in a series of signs that paper mill production, some of which will use recycled feedstock, may be shifting back to the U.S. following China's scrap import restrictions.
New PAYT program proposed in PA, another moving ahead in MD - WYOU & Carroll County Times
Pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) concepts are growing in prominence but still remain somewhat controversial when it comes time to secure local approval. Scranton, Pennsylvania may be one of the next cities to take up that discussion, following the release of a new report by SCS Engineers. All residents currently pay a flat fee of $300 per year for collection services, which some local officials say is an unfair burden on smaller households or seniors with fixed incomes. The study outlines a variety of ways that a new system could be structured and projects Scranton could save as much as $200,000 per year in disposal costs. Any further action is expected to be months away.
Meanwhile, New Windsor, Maryland is set to start its own pilot next month. Going by the name Fair Trash Reduction (FuTuRe), the pilot is being led by consultant Waste Zero. Every household will receive a $35 gift card to purchase their initial bags and help them get acquainted with the program.
Ocean Cleanup's Wilson reaches final destination — CNN Business
After setting sail from San Francisco Bay to great fanfare last month, the nonprofit Ocean Cleanup's 2,000-foot-long floating boom will arrive at the world's most notorious plastic gyre in the Pacific Ocean. Soon after, it's expected to begin collecting plastic marine debris with an underwater net system that will be emptied periodically by boats every couple of months. The group hopes to collect 50 tons of material by April 2019 and expand its reach with additional units in the years ahead.
SEEN & HEARD
I'd like to give a big congratulations to our #Phoenix North Hauling team, which hit a huge milestone with more than 100,000 driver hours between accidents. Stressing #safety is so important and it pays off! pic.twitter.com/SCiHjmLJCP— Jim Fish (@jimfishwm) October 15, 2018
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