An Educational Study by
THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF UTAH
Photo courtesy of Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
The goal of this study is to educate members of the League of Women Voters of Utah as well as the general public, and to discover recycling issues. We use the experience of a small city, Layton, in Davis County as well as several recycling companies. Recycling companies and a non-profit organization studied include Waste Management, Wasatch Front Waste & Recycling, Recycle Utah, Utah Recycling Alliance.org, plus Salt Lake County and Davis County recycle and landfill.
The League of Women Voters of Utah is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) non-profit political organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government. It works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
Study Team Members
Nicola Nelson, Chair
Heather Stewart Dorrell
In the past, we have recycled much of our used paper, plastics and other scrap materials; secured it into bales; and shipped the bales to China for processing. But as part of a broad antipollution campaign, China announced last summer that it no longer will import “foreign garbage.” Since Jan. 1, 2018, it has banned imports of various types of plastic and paper, as well as tightened standards for the materials it does accept.
While some waste managers already send their recyclable materials to be processed domestically or are shipping more to other countries such as India and Tibet, others have been unable to find a substitute for the Chinese market. “All of a sudden, material being collected on the street doesn’t have a place to go,” said Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, one of the largest waste managers in the country.
Utah recyclers are facing issues of finding new markets. Waste managers and recyclers have to deal with mixing of recyclables (called contamination) with materials that cannot be recycled. Contaminated recyclables are given to the local landfill, because labor costs to separate non-recyclables (such as when a non-recyclable plastic bag is used to hold aluminum cans) are high. Often the home recycler does not know which articles belong in the recycle bin and thus “wish-cycles,” placing anything they think “might” be acceptable in the recycle bin. Further complicating things, different waste management recyclers accept different items to be recycled.
This study attempted to make sense of the different methods of waste management with a focus upon recycling along the Wasatch Front. Rather than a comprehensive report of each recycling company, we visited two cities and an Air Force Base as well as several recycling companies, with a view toward understanding the broad aspects of recycling in the current international and local situation from several perspectives. We also found information online. This is an educational study for the Utah League of Women Voters and for interested members of the public as well as the Utah Legislature. The study did not address hazardous materials.
The study report itself is short, discussing why we should recycle, what we’ve learned, what an individual can do, what our state government can do, and what the League of Women Voters of Utah can Do.
Our meeting and tour reports, written by one or more study team members, are provided in appendices. We chose this structure because, although we found some consistent messaging among the people we met with, we also found confusing information that varied among the sites visited and how the waste disposal situation was changing. While we have tried to convey what we learned at each meeting, we realize that recycling information is evolving and that we may not have fully captured the information we received. Our meetings and tours were conducted between May and August 2018.
Many readers of this study would answer, “because it is the right thing to do.” But if we want to encourage recycling in our communities, we must have a better answer.
In many countries, such as some in Europe, economics provides the answer. If landfills are expensive, recyclable materials become more valuable. If fossil fuels are expensive, recycling plastics makes sense. If compost can be sold at a profit, waste haulers will collect green waste. Almost always, producing something from recyclable materials uses less energy than producing from raw materials; this is especially true for aluminum and paper. Unfortunately, along the Wasatch Front, it is difficult to make an economic case for recycling. Utah has a lot of inexpensive land available for landfills. Even with projected population growth, this will be true for decades, although the cost of transporting waste may increase. Similarly, low fossil fuel prices make it cheaper to manufacture new plastics rather than recycle.
Recycling industries answer the question of why we should recycle this way: recycling creates local jobs, curbs waste disposal costs, saves energy, reduces CO2 emissions and conserves raw materials. All of these are true, within constraints.
Some readers may recycle for religious reasons. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) teaches that “…we should care for the earth, be wise stewards over it, and preserve it for future generations” and “all humankind should … use what God has given, avoid wasting life and resources …” Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, relates the throwaway culture’s ecological damage to consequent harm to people. Jews quote several examples of the Old Testament relating to bal tashhit, the prohibition of wanton destruction of things. The Quran describes how people should not waste anything and how they should conserve resources, even those used for rituals.
The website of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines recycling as, “Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community and the environment.” It defines the benefits of recycling as:
Reduces the amount of waste to landfills and incinerators;
Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals;
Increases economic security by tapping a domestic source of materials;
Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials;
Supports American manufacturing and conserves valuable resources;
Helps create jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States.
The League of Women Voters supports recycling at the national level (See Appendix A). No matter the reason, most people along the Wasatch Front want to recycle. We pay our cities and towns for a recycling bin, do our best to sort our waste, and feel good when we see our bins emptied into the truck. Our study found ways in which we can increase recycling in our communities.
The recycling industry is undergoing major changes due to China’s new policy of not taking any recyclables with greater than 0.5 percent contamination (contamination is any item that cannot be sorted or recycled). The current contamination rate in bales of recyclables in the United States is greater than 20%. The only profitable recyclable materials are metals, cardboard, aluminum cans, and #1 and #2 plastics. (See Appendix D for plastic numbering system.) Note that these materials are profitable because there are markets for the material. Metals are recycled into metal objects and cardboard into more cardboard. Plastic bottles can be recycled into items ranging from more bottles to clothing.
Recycled glass has the potential to be profitable if the volume is high enough, but it is very heavy to transport. Note that glass, if not recycled, can be easily broken up and is inert, so it doesn’t cause a great deal of damage to the environment. Green waste can be turned into compost or mulch, which can be sold, but not necessarily at a profit. Food waste can be turned into fuel. (See Appendix K).
Although clean, white, un-shredded paper can be sold at a profit, generally that is not true for mixed paper. Because it is organic, if not processed into something else, paper should deteriorate naturally, but there have been cases where paper has lasted for many years, especially in a hot, dry climate.
Food waste, a new step in recycling in North Salt Lake, creates fertilizer and biogas that will be used to generate energy.
The most difficult and most widespread single material in the recycling stream seems to be “hard” plastics (everything from vinyl mats to squeeze bottles, from food trays to sunglasses). It is not a material found in nature and the fact that it is used to protect things from the elements shows that plastic preserves its capacity to seal out moisture and many natural bacteria that break down materials. If plastics are not reprocessed they maintain their chemical structure (they’re still plastic) although they may break into smaller and smaller pieces. In Utah we don’t have to worry about contributing plastic items to the pollution in the ocean. But if we bury plastic in a landfill it will still be there in several hundred years. If plastics are recycled the new product is still plastic.
A recurring message from our studies is that plastic bags are “bad.” They are not profitable to recycle. It takes 9000 bags to make one bale and that bale is worth almost nothing. With oil prices low, it is much cheaper to make new ones. They create litter in our environment and especially at recycling facilities because they blow out of the truck, and companies must pay someone to gather them up. They jam the recycling equipment. If recyclables are put in a plastic bag the entire bag goes to the landfill—it is too expensive to pay someone to empty the bag.
Every city, town and/or waste disposal company along the Wasatch Front has different rules for what can be recycled and what is considered contamination. Efforts to educate the public are somewhat haphazard, and often require the individual to search for how to recycle in their community.
Waste disposal companies are raising rates to cover their recycling costs. These costs will be passed on to residents by Wasatch Front cities and counties. Because Utah landfill costs are relatively inexpensive compared to the East Coast or to Europe, for example, it is difficult to make an economic case for recycling. However, it is possible for entities such as restaurants, retail stores or factories, to reduce their waste disposal costs by providing recyclables to the disposal company.
More attention is being paid to “pre-cycling.” This is preventing waste, especially plastic, from being generated in the first place. On the web, you can find egregious examples of waste plastic, such as individually packaged hot dogs or potatoes. The European Union has begun an initiative to require that all packaging be reusable or recyclable.
There are minimal efforts in Utah to find or create markets for other recyclables such as #3-#7 plastic. Note that in June 2018 the city of Phoenix issued a request for proposals to process #3-#7 plastics currently going to landfill, repurposing them into new products or fuel. Incineration and combustion technologies were not an option. Three companies responded.
First, educate yourself about what is recyclable in your community; then educate your friends, neighbors, and organizations you belong to. Salt Lake City has imposed recycling requirements for organizations requiring higher frequencies of waste pickups. Ask your city or county to be proactive in educating residents about how to recycle in their community and to provide adequate opportunities and incentives to recycle.
Probably the easiest, most immediately helpful action is to use reusable bags instead of plastic bags whenever possible. Don’t put plastic bags in your recycling bin; take them to a store that collects and recycles them. Often, a bag is not needed; bags are not provided at Costco and we carry out our purchases in recyclable cardboard.
And speak up when you see lost opportunities for recycling. The recent campaign against plastic straws is an example of where public concern can be effective, but straws are a very small percentage of the tons of plastic waste we generate. Ask organizations that hold large events to provide recycling containers, especially for aluminum cans and plastic drink bottles, and organize help to sort through trash after the event to find recyclables. If you attend an event where non-recyclable Styrofoam or single-use plastic utensils in a non-recyclable plastic package are used, speak to the manager of the event about alternatives.
Volunteer to teach a class about recycling. Our team saw an effective little presentation at the Salt Lake County landfill that involved pulling items out of a recycling bin and voting on whether they were recyclable. Perhaps a representative from your waste management company will join you.
In general, recycling in Utah occurs at the local level, counties, cities and towns. However, in most of our meetings, we asked the question “what legislation would be helpful with regard to recycling?” Our study team members also came up with suggestions for our state legislators.
For example, since recycling economics often improve with increased quantity of recyclable material, perhaps the state should require cities and towns above a certain size (or with a significant amount of waste) to collect and recycle profitable materials.
Also, we found that relying on local efforts to explain and encourage recycling were not always effective. Charging a state agency (probably the Department of Environmental Quality) with responsibility to provide basic, consistent educational material to support recycling efforts would ease this burden on smaller communities. In particular, educating residents about the issues with single-use plastic bags to improve recyclable collecting and reduce litter would be a cost-effective and supportive state effort.
Utah provides many tax and other incentives for businesses. The state could provide incentives for companies that manufacture recyclables into usable products. Along this line, the state could support research on markets for recycling products, especially #2-#7 plastics. Significant tax dollars are being spent on finding new uses for coal, which is expensive and polluting to extract. Hard plastics are a “free” source of raw material and making them reusable would save money and landfill space.
We hope that this study will provide a basis for which local Leagues can educate their members and allow them to decide if they wish to pursue further actions. Recycling in Utah is local; the city one block away from yours probably has different recycling requirements and costs. Local Leagues can be very effective in asking their city councils or county commissioners to address costs and environmental impacts.
The League of Women Voters of Utah can, at a state level, lobby the governor and the legislature to address Utah recycling issues. Our team believes that a resolution recognizing increasing waste disposal costs, decreasing landfill areas, and confusing local recycling regulations might be a place to start. While outside the study scope, interested League members might wish to pursue this further.
The study process was a series of personal interviews and tours with stakeholders, bolstered with information available on the internet. We discovered prolific internet articles and included portions of articles to broaden our understanding of recycling issues. We learned recycling concerns are prominent throughout the world. The issues we studied resonate from India and Thailand to China and Taiwan, from Australia to Europe and the United States.
We learned many ways to recycle and how few of us know which items can go in the sidewalk recycling bin. This is a result of the free enterprise system; each company chooses which items they will recycle. The downside of such a system is that we who fill recycle bins are not certain what items we may recycle with our local company. Thus we put some items into the recycling bin in hopes that we guessed right. All too often our guess is wrong. The recycler views such items as contaminants, and they are sent to the landfill with other trash. Each company can select which items to recycle in hopes that they will be able to sell these items and make a profit.
Thin plastic bags, such as grocery bags, are universally a problem in current recycle systems. The move to reusable bags is change we must expect, and hopefully society will end the use of single-use plastic bags. Plastic bags “gum up” the works of their recycling machines. In one landfill area these plastic bags must be hand collected, so the landfill hires three full time employees to gather them or their fence will fall down from the blowing plastic bags. Many grocery stores have a collection box for these used grocery bags.
Because each recycling company selects items they wish to receive, it would make sense to have the recycler identify those items they want and inform their users. So far that doesn’t seem to be happening with most companies along the Wasatch Front. Questions about a milk jug are an example. Should we remove the plastic lid to the milk jug and place it in the trash? Should we rinse out the milk jug before recycling? It was interesting to find that we got different answers to this question depending on which organization we asked. Non-profits can be of great benefit by learning which items are acceptable for each recycler and disseminating this information to the public.
Public awareness of waste disposal issues is growing significantly, with new information appearing on TV, in newspapers and magazines, and on social media daily. The potential for reducing waste by recycling is significant. Certainly, we as individuals and as League members can make a positive contribution to addressing this concern.
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS POSITION ON WASTE
The League of Women Voters supports:
Policies to reduce the generation and promote the reuse and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes.
Policies to ensure safe treatment, transportation, storage and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes in order to protect public health and air, water and land resources.
Planning and decision making processes that recognize suitable solid and hazardous wastes as potential resources.
Vicki Wetzel, Treasurer for the Layton City Finance Department, explained the relationship between Layton and Waste Management. Layton allows residents to opt into recycling for $5.50 per month. Residents pay this fee for each can picked up by Waste Management. Wetzel estimates about 10% of residents choose to recycle. The program has been in effect for about three years. Layton City does not report the status of recycling and does nothing to encourage recycling. The city does not have any recycling drop-off sites. Some large entities (such as Smith’s Warehouse) may contract directly with providers of waste products and recycling. Wetzel provided a contact name and number for Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District.
We met with Mary Closser, Recycle Utah’s Education and Outreach Director. Mary gave us a tour, explained how Recycle Utah Is structured, and answered numerous questions. Their goal is to “enable people to be able to live sustainable lives.”
Recycle Utah accepts glass, paper, mixed metals, cardboard, pallets, all types of plastic, Styrofoam, and numerous “odd” items such as batteries, electronics (including cords), CDs, light bulbs, oral products, cell phones, and grease. Electronics are used by MeTech, which profits from the platinum and gold. Mixed metals must be 70% metal. Mary mentioned recycled lawnmowers (drained of fluids) and washing machines. They have found markets for all, or nearly all, of these recycled items.
Residents and businesses bring their recyclables to Recycle Utah and do their own sorting by means of clearly marked receptacles, which provides for bales with few contaminants. “The key to recycling is sorting,” said Mary. We witnessed individuals in vehicle after vehicle bringing large and small amounts of boxes, bottles, mixed paper, Styrofoam, etc. Their average traffic is 400 vehicles per day. One does not have to be a Park City or Summit County resident to drop off recyclables. We also saw several volunteers assisting unloading, sorting small items, and managing the warehouse where items are sold. They were preparing for the One Hundred Mile Meal fundraiser, where all food comes from no further than 100 miles. They expect 150 people at $200 per plate.
Recycle Utah’s recycled glass goes to Momentum Glass. They also sell recycled items, including boxes and bubble wrap, and cooperate with ReStore (Habitat for Humanity) and the Christian Center Thrift Shop to recycle as many items as possible.
Mary showed us the $40,000 Styrofoam densifier machine, which caused community consternation when it was down for repair. The machine takes Styrofoam packing pieces only, not Styrofoam peanuts. Recycle Utah does not take Styrofoam food containers. Mary suggested telling restaurants that these are not recyclable or biodegradable and contain unsafe chemicals. Instead, leftover food can be wrapped in foil, which can be recycled in mixed metals if cleaned slightly and folded flat. They also have a cardboard baler. Cardboard is sent to Interwest Paper.
Recycle Utah has two paper bins, one for white, clean paper and one for all other mixed paper. The plastic recycling tent has multiple receptacles requiring individuals to sort according to number and type. “Soft” plastic (bags, etc.) is incinerated in Morgan, Utah. This causes some air quality issues.
Recycle Utah is supported by grants from Park City, Summit County, and other
organizations, by individual donations, fundraising events, and by sales of their recyclables, along with some money from the city and the county. Profitable materials are cardboard, mixed metals, aluminum, and #1 and #2 plastics. Lumber is their “bread and butter.” They also rent large bins for community events.
The first Summit County landfill became full, and a second one was opened. It now is expected to last only 35 years. The new landfill cost $1M. There is also a construction and demolition landfill in Henefer, Utah that accepts green waste, which Recycle Utah does not accept. The county is motivated to recycle and may soon mandate that facilities of a certain size recycle cardboard.
Mary stated that 80% of what is in our landfills should not be there, and 1/3 of it is compostable. She educates summer camps, schools, and organizations like the League of Women Voters. Hers is a paid position.
When asked what legislation would help with recycling, Mary mentioned a plastic bag ban. Fresh Market, The Market, and Rite Aid do not use plastic bags. She also suggested a bottle deposit law. About ten states require this fee. A third suggestion is a requirement that manufacturers of or stores selling electronics must take them as returns. Mary said one of the most valuable places to start changing attitudes is with one’s city council and progressive, informed citizens.
Committee members contacted Nelson Bowen at Hill Air Force Base (HAFB) to obtain information about how recycling is conducted on the base. Nelson agreed to take interested League members onto the base and tell us about the program while we saw the facilities.
Contact information for Nelson Bowen is email@example.com. Nelson is an employee of Selective Engineering Services, a company that contracts with HAFB to manage waste disposal and recycling.
On our way to the recycling yard, Nelson took us past some of the dumpsters with recyclables and trash that are picked up outside of many buildings on the base.
The recycling yard is a place where base workers and residents can bring recyclables that aren't picked up at other locations. He answered our many questions about the history and the present program for recycling at HAFB.
The burn plant that previously burned waste to supply energy to HAFB was closed about a year ago because it needed extensive repairs. The energy generated by the plant was used by HAFB but was very expensive. The plant was operated by Integrated Waste Management which does waste management in Davis County.
Nelson explained that different dumpsters are placed by many buildings for trash and for recyclables. Dumpsters are picked up by Robinson Waste, a private company with a contract for these services. Robinson Waste transports trash and recyclables to Rocky Mountain Recycling. In the past quarter, 60% of the base waste was diverted from landfills, higher than standards set by the state.
Selective Engineering Services is presently conducting a study of material that is not recycled to see how recycling rates can be improved. So far, the study has shown very little material in the trash that could be recycled. The amount of paper used to print material from the internet has decreased as people have become more comfortable reading and storing material in digital form.
Nelson thinks that burning is not a good waste disposal method for Utah because of amount of energy that is used to burn and impacts of burning on air quality. Landfills may be a good solution in Utah with its extensive amount of empty land if they are properly maintained and sealed with a cap when full, said Nelson.
Sale of scrap metal finances the cost of trash and recycling pickup, personnel salaries, and management of the program. Scrap metal is sold to scrap yards. Most ferrous material is sold to Nucor. Corrugated cardboard has a value that helps defray the cost of recycling other materials. Any funds above the cost of the program are donated to conservation programs on the base or to services for military personnel.
The base maintains a small landfill for concrete and asphalt from construction projects. Some of this material has been used as road base. Methane gas is generated from a base landfill.
More than a dozen League members met with Senator Jani Iwamoto in the Senate Minority Caucus room to hear about her involvement with recycling. She emphasized her pathway from starting to create her bill (2018 SB 192) to the present. The bill is about charging 10 cents for paper and plastic bags as a way to educate the Utah public to bring their own reusable bags. She has been working on similar bills for several years.
The ﬁrst municipal bill the senator was acquainted with was in San Francisco. Then she worked on her ﬁrst attempt with Randy Horiuchi on the Salt Lake County Council. She had Senator Lyle Hillyard’s support in the Utah Legislature, but he felt it would never be passed if it was just connected to the environmental impacts or was only a Democratic bill. It must be presented in an economic way to pass. Representative Lee Perry, a Republican, was her co-sponsor. The 2018 bill passed the Economic Development Committee, but then died in Rules. Senator Todd Weiler, a Republican, initially supported her bill but told her he will not support it again due to negative publicity. The League of Cities and Towns was neutral on her bill.
Senator Buxton ran a bill that would prevent any municipality from banning plastic bags. It derived from the ALEC organization sponsored by the Koch family. It did not pass the House. Senator Buxton could not be reached for comment.
Senator Iwamoto said she worked with retailers including food retailers, counties, cities and landﬁlls to come up with the bill. She feels both plastic and paper bags are equally bad for the environment. A 5 cent charge per bag does not change a person’s behavior, and 15 cents is excessive. She determined 10 cents is ideal. Paper bags take hundreds of years to disintegrate and make methane gas when such bags are produced. They utilize a lot of water to make and require a lot of trucking. Plastic bags are light and take ﬂight all over; as they disintegrate, they form tiny plastic pellets that get into water sources and aﬀect wildlife.
Another thing to consider is the distribution of the 10 cents: who should receive some of it? Possibilities include retailers, recycling companies, or cities and counties. Senator Iwamoto talked about Germany’s recycling program and process. Senator Bramble is interested in the German program. He chairs the Business and Labor Committee and took Senator Thatcher to Germany to look at a specific single stream recycling plant, and he thinks their system works better. It is something to explore.
Senator Iwamoto spoke about conferences such as the National Conference of State Legislators, the Council of State Governments, and the American Legislative Exchange Council. She showed posters with workers having to manually pluck out items, especially plastic bags, as the recycled matter passed the workers. She also visited the Trans Jordan land ﬁll.
Rwanda was one of the dirtiest places in the world; then they got rid of plastic bags, and now it is one of the cleanest, stated Senator Iwamoto.
Discussion followed the presentation. One person mentioned the huge Recycling Program the LDS Church has. This is an election year and the senator spoke about the German program presented by Curtis Bramble. Senator Iwamoto wondered if this year perhaps a Resolution would be the wiser choice instead of a bill. The Senator asked the League of Women Voters to help by suggesting wording. The main goal is to educate the public and get them engaged in using reusable items instead of throwing away bags and all kinds of other things.
WIWMD operates at the Davis County Landfill. Their program is specifically designed for green waste that creates mulch. Paper, plastic, and glass are not accepted for recycling. The landfill charges $5.00 per load.
Wasatch Integrated Household Hazardous Waste Facility, also located at the Davis Landfill, accepts e-waste, paint, varnish, pesticides, lawn care products, aerosols, paint thinner, antifreeze, motor oil, diesel, gasoline, cleaning items, automotive products, rechargeable and lead acid batteries and similar items in household quantities.
Items that can be used by others are available free of charge. Televisions, computers, monitors and other electronics are boxed and then picked up for disposal and/or recycling. Items that may be useful are given to the Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation Center (PARC) thrift store. PARC operates the thrift store co-located with the Davis Landfill Recycling Center. PARC is a community rehabilitation program providing opportunities for people with disabilities who cannot obtain training and employment on their own. The partnership between PARC and WIWMD benefits the community by providing jobs and increasing recycling through the reuse of items which might otherwise be landfilled.
As a member of WIWMD, North Salt Lake is said to be one of the most progressive cities in Utah when it comes to environmentally responsible management of solid waste. The District operated a modern waste-to-energy facility which used waste to supply heat to Hill Air Force Base, offsetting the combustion of natural gas. This facility is no longer in operation. Other programs and projects operated by the district include a landfill gas-to-energy project, green waste recycling, household hazardous waste recycling and disposal, steel recycling, and availability of recycling bins for residential use. This system currently keeps about 50% of the waste generated in the District from ending up in the landfill. The average recycling rate in Utah is about 5%.
Beth Holbrook of Wasatch Integrated Waste Management spoke about successful recycling programs with greater or less desirable aspects. She stated that #1 and #2 plastic, if cleaned, is the best plastic for recycling. Plastic grades #3 through #7 is less desirable. However, the most desirable recycling products are corrugated cardboard boxes without dyes or additional coatings. Cereal boxes are not accepted for recycling. Paper labels should be removed from products such as bottles, as should the bottle cap.
Beth presented a brief that was provided to Sandy City, Utah. She is Vice President of the League of Cities and Towns and a member of the Bountiful City Council.
Waste Management contracts with many Utah cities and large institutions for waste and recycling services. Many companies haul waste or recycled items only, and bring their materials to Waste Management sites.
Contamination is the biggest problem. Many people are “wish-cyclers” who put items in the bin that cannot be recycled and must be hand-picked out of the material stream.
Plastics bags cause many problems. They jam the machinery; they litter, and they cannot be recycled by Waste Management’s equipment. Never put recycle items in a plastic bag. Individual stores may collect plastic bags; if you don’t see a container of such bags, ask at the service counter to find out if the store provides that service.
Once China imported 70% of the world’s waste. The U.S.’s new tariffs increased economic costs, and China closed all ports on May 3, so single-stream recycling materials are sitting at ports in San Diego and Long Beach. China also stopped permitting paper mills in China due to air pollution. As their economy grows, they create a lot of plastic waste in their own country. They now require a Chinese inspector for every container. If they find more than 0.5% contamination in any bale, they will not accept the container. Now, the pricing model is upended.
Materials with the best value for recycling are metal including aluminum, cardboard, and #1 and #2 plastics. Plastics grade #3-#7 go into the landfill. According to Ms. Holbrook, Senator Iwamoto’s bill to charge 10 cents for a plastic bag is a regressive fee that affects poor people.
Public education efforts are detailed on the WIWMD website and public education meetings. More public education talks, to lessen contamination, are planned.
Utah has no landfill problem, but there is value in a commodity if energy has been used to make it. Landfills can capture methane gas which can be used to generate heat.
If Beth could have any legislation she chose, she would ban the production of plastic bags. They cost 2 cents each to produce. Some landfills spend thousands of dollars cleaning up plastic bags. The German plant Herhof makes pellets that are burned in addition to coal.
Pam Roberts, Executive Director of Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling District, and Lance Allen, Program Director of Waste and Recycling Division of SLC Corp. visited with the League of Women Voters.
WFWRD services 83,000 homes in 13 municipalities. Their entire fleet runs on natural gas. The first recycle can, bin, or cart is part of the garbage collection fee. So, there is no reason not to get the recycling bin or service. They send their collections to both Waste Management and Rocky Mountain Recycling. They pick up 90-100 tons per day.
In the past, there was such sound revenue that plastic was not such a big complaint, since it was purchased with the contamination, and China accepted it. Now, the economics have changed, but plastic bags have always been a problem. Right now it costs more to recycle than to put it in the landfill, but in the future, estimated a year from now, this will change. Of course we all benefit by not creating more landfills.
Pam Roberts estimated she has 80% participation in their program. When asked why there are problems with education and contamination, she mentioned that education is most helpful for the “low hanging fruit” as in those more reachable, interested in learning and changing their practices. It takes time. They use social media, their web site, and newsletters to educate their customers. Informational pages are distributed in English and Spanish. Boy Scouts participate in a merit badge pertaining to recycling, and Girl Scouts may also be learning about recycling. Many teachers request presentations. Hopefully in about a year it will be part of school curriculum.
Inspectors check for appropriate recycling and notices are left, with contamination either taken out of the bin or the whole bin removed from the curb. These checks are random, and they can’t check on everyone. A three-strikes rule governs the homeowner, and they lose the recycle bin if they continue to contaminate. ABC did a story about recycling costs and contamination at 10:00 PM on June 27, 2017. A one-page example of a flyer was also shared with the recycling committee.
Recycle symbols at the bottom of each product may help Utahns decipher between what is recyclable and what is not. The products are marked with a number which ranks the value of the container. The numbers represent the following products:
The “‘chasing arrows” symbol has always been associated with recycling, but that really is not used, and the number in the center or resin indicator code (RIC) is used to identify the type of resin in the product. Over time the resins have been blended and engineered to the point that there are literally thousands of plastics that can only be placed into broad categories such as #1- #7. Therefore, the recycle industry has moved towards identifying plastics acceptable for recycling by pictures as well as the RIC symbol. The symbol will be phased out since it is confusing for consumers and is not very representative of the resin contained in the plastic.
As for what is actually recyclable, basically two things need to exist: a market or buyer for the material to recycle the product/material into a new product/material, and a processor to sort the material out of the recycle stream. Since recyclables are commodities, items that are recycled today may not be recyclable tomorrow.
It was mentioned that Waste Management was correct in saying only #1 and #2 were recyclable, because if the #3 to #7 plastics are contaminated, the lower grade plastics won’t get recycled. Nothing obligates a waste management company to accept certain material except an agreement with a customer; however, if there are no buyers for the material, the material will not get recycled. Instead the material will be put into a landfill. The chasing arrows reflect that recycling is a loop; a process with many parts from the consumer who recycles the item to the waste collector, to the processor through a buyer, to the mill where the final product is made to sell to the consumer who recycles it. If any step in the process gets missed, the material does not get recycled.
Lance stated there is about 90% participation in Salt Lake City, whereas the national average is in the high 60s. The contamination rate is about 21%, with 50 tons a day collected. That means contamination is a big problem. Right now they receive $45 a ton. They have six inspectors checking cans. There is no enforcement or penalty, just education.
The stream is changing. It is becoming more brown due to cardboard boxes, and the fact that fewer people buy newspapers so less are recycled. The processor was designed to process more fiber, and now the pattern has changed. Shredded paper could be recycled except for two things. Its small size makes it fall to the floor, and fibers are cut so small they are less useful. The processor must separate fiber; it is mixed fiber grade. Plastic water bottles are thin and get smashed. They are called light weighting and the processor treats them as fiber instead of plastic. Older, stronger water bottles didn’t smash down to a thin product.
Customers need to use a minimum amount of water to rinse out cans and bottles and drain the water. Juice cartons are recyclable, but not milk cartons. A specific enzyme in the milk breaks down the fiber in approximately 30 days, and it ends up as wax.
If the public could eliminate plastic bags (which have never been recyclable), it would reduce contamination immensely. Currently the United States’ contamination rate is 25%. China requires only 0.5% contamination to accept recycling from the U.S. Lance said the LDS church does its own recycling, which could be researched further. When asked what would help, of course both Pam and Lance would like to see legislation and education. Lance thinks elementary age children and preteens are the most useful kids to educate, as they will try to influence their families. Many high school students do not talk to their parents much. They also say, “Don’t panic, it’s not broken, stay calm. The situation will drive positive changes.”
Because of China’s ban on plastics as well as its 0.5% contamination requirement, it would behoove manufacturers of plastic to make items more recyclable. For example, they could use high grade polymers rather than lesser grades such as in film. Reducing the U.S. contamination of 25% is advisable and could most easily be attained by educating recyclers to understand which items, in which condition, are recyclable.
Some areas of the world, including Thailand and areas of India, are following China’s lead on bans, plus following India’s ban on single-use plastics such as plastic utensils or similar items in parts of the country. Impacts on world-wide companies such as Amazon include problems with bans in India and others throughout Asia. Plastic bags are also banned in areas of India. The United States may be wise to follow the Asian example and ban plastic bags.
According to their website, the Alliance empowers people, organizations and communities statewide to create a zero-waste culture by building successful models and encouraging practices that promote reuse, recycling, and resource conservation. This non-profit organization is governed by a 12-member board of directors, each of whom specializes in a particular aspect of reuse, recycling, or resource conservation.
The website contains suggestions, information, and helpful facts. It is best if recycling material can be used locally. Momentum Glass provides glass to the Owens-Corning plant in Nephi. The web site contains 24 Salt Lake locations that take glass for recycling. Recycled aluminum is used by the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Draper. Current low fuel costs may make it cheaper to manufacture from scratch. The Utah legislature does not want to charge manufacturing companies for future disposal costs.
Presenters were Mary McIntire, Director of URA, Kate Whitlock, board of URA as well as one of the owners and operators of Momentum Recycling (glass), and Pat Sheehan, board member as well as with the Department of Environmental Quality. This group was organized in 2011 as a nonprofit, but it began two years earlier in connection with Weber State.
Some of the projects or programs they participate in include Pop up CHaRM, a program that repurposes, reuses, and recycles items which are difficult to recycle; Bag the Bag Campaign, which works toward reducing the use of disposable bags; and the Fix-It Clinic, where one can work with a coach to fix items. They give out Zero Waste Awards which recognize businesses and organizations, and this year it is its eighth year: a fun night held in November.
Mary McIntire talked about the Sustainability Summit held every March, which includes people in the industry, students, and just about any interested party. Lunch and Learn is held twice per year. One can bring their own lunch and hear different types of speakers. Lastly, there is the Intermountain Sustainability Summit (ISS) which concentrates on waste and recycle, energy, and climate.
Pat Sheehan spoke about Material Recycling Facilities (MRF’s) and how they sort, bale, and truck our recyclables to the West Coast, from which they are shipped to China. Now there is what is called China’s National Sword. They still want our recyclables, just not our garbage. As we have heard before, we need to reduce our contamination to .5%. When our shipments are rejected it creates market uncertainty as well as higher costs and lower values.
Loads begin stockpiling and eventually have to go to the landfill. Solutions include cleaning up our act and reducing or eliminating single use retail bags. Kate Whitlock explained she used to get $10 per ton of glass, and now she pays $60 per ton to the sorting facility. Salt Lake County has a contract fee for sorting and a tipping fee, which takes out some uncertainty. Waste-to-Energy, a process of turning waste into energy, causes pollution and takes a lot of energy. Right now, there is a constantly fluctuating market for what is recyclable, so it is challenging to educate people.
There are TOO MANY BAGS! In the US each year; 100 billion plastic bags are used, and 1 billion bags are used in Utah alone per year. These cause litter and pollutant issues as well. They impact our landscapes and waterways; material recovery facilities (MRFs) have trouble dealing with them; they are not logistically recyclable; and, of course, there is the “garbage patch” in the Pacific Ocean.
It takes 9,000 plastic bags to make one light bale, but it is not worth much money. We have a disposable retail bag problem. The costs to landfills, just picking the bags up as they blow around is $40,000 to Transjordan, and $33,000 to Wasatch International. For material recovery facilities (MRFs), it is $257,000. Perhaps this could be our economic tie to share with legislators.
Some solutions include: A disposable bag ban, which Park City has tried to do; a change in the Utah political climate; and a preemptive bill in communities. Paper bags take more resources to make, so they are not the answer. A disposable bag fee may be reasonable plus the most common answer. It allows consumers to make a choice. The fee generates revenue that can be used toward reusable bags, education, and litter clean up. The hope is that the fee will change consumer behavior.
URA is conducting The Bag the Bag advocacy campaign and showed us their canvas bags. They suggest the following for our consideration:
Committee members met with Josh Gibson, licensed professional Engineer (PE) and Mechanical, and Certified Energy Manager (CEVN). He was hired just a few months ago after eight years managing BYU-Idaho’s sustainability program. His role is “all things utilities, gas, electrical, waste water, and waste stream.” In addition, he was hired to lower costs.
Josh oversees three facilities areas: Temple Facilities (60 worldwide and 10 to 12 in Utah alone), the Meetinghouse Department (50 buildings along the Wasatch Front totaling seven million square feet), and Church Headquarters, such as the LDS Church Office Building, and everything in the Temple square area except the Temple. It also excludes Welfare Square, the Print Division, Philanthropies, and more.
The three BYU University Campuses (Provo, Idaho, Hawaii) meet to implement their own sustainability and share policy and ideas.
The topic of discussion was waste management. This is an evolving area. Salt Lake City rolled out the latest “Business and Multi-Family Ordinance” in June. Changes by both China and President Trump have impacted recycling.
Josh was hired as a new Director of Facilities, and according to the church president, “We begin by beginning.” They use Green Planet 21 “providing cost-effective, innovative recycling solutions, which benefit both their clients and the planet.” It is a zero-landfill company.
Josh gave an example of recycling in the Print Center, which is one million square feet. They print the Book of Mormon, as well as other leaflets and magazines. Green Planet 21 said shredded paper is easiest to recycle. They also process paper that is not shredded in locked bins that can go to the hauler without affecting the security of the print matter.
They can do single stream recycling, which allows them to have clean recyclables. Josh even receives reports of what they are keeping out of the landfill, and if some contaminants are found, they can research where the policies were not followed. The LDS Church arrangement with Green Planet 21 is unique. The waste hauler tells them what their waste streams look like and provide site audits. This reporting helps the customer. They have a tremendous amount of green waste that is also single streamed and taken to the landfill, where there is a green waste section. It is called eco-waste.
The waste hauler sets up all the needed bins and signage. One of the biggest barriers to entry are janitors and staff. They cannot increase staff, and the work load cannot be increased. The Church Office Building has central elevators going to every floor. Outside each elevator are bins for shred, cans, paper, cardboard, plastic, and landfill waste. There may be about 100 cubicles per floor, and each employee is responsible to bring their waste and separate it into the bins. The janitors then only have to visit each floor and dump these separated bins into their larger one. It was an impressive system.
When discussing an optimal way to decide who would be good contributors for recycling, Josh stated, if a four-yard bin needs service less than one time per month, it isn’t useful. Paper brings the most money per ton, and when sold to China it brings a profit. Cardboard is second. They don’t recycle glass because they don’t use much glass. In the basement are impressive baling and crushing machines, as well as secure areas for recycle.
A LANDFILL PERSPECTIVE
The Salt Lake County Landfill Education Center program was introduced by Outreach Specialists David Johnson and Ashley Bailey. The Salt Lake County Landfill is estimated to run out of space by the year 2100. Every evening five or six inches of dirt cover the newly dumped trash, and water is sprayed on the dirt to prevent dust. Currently the highest point is 80 feet above street level and they can build to the 205-foot level. Part of the landfill land is leased to E. T. Technologies who work with manure and other wastes, thereby making a good, fertile product for planting.
Because the landfill is close to Great Salt Lake, one concern is leachate, which is water that has percolated through a solid and leached out some of the constituents. Three feet below the surface is a bed of clay that acts as a natural filter for water and takes out contaminants. On top of the clay they lay plastic (100 times thicker than a grocery bag). The water is pumped out and the leachate is monitored in about 15-20 places. When one area is complete, they cap that area of the landfill with 2 to 3 feet of dirt and allow it to revegetate. The leachate and methane gas must be tracked for 30 years, because it can be volatile and can lead to fires starting underground.
Landfill compost needs the temperature to be from 130 to 160 degrees to decompose and to kill seeds and pathogens. These temperatures are checked randomly and frequently. Mulch’s temperature is 130 degrees while compost is greater than 130 degrees. Operation costs of landfill are covered by gate fees, not taxes. Thirty-five employees, plus others at the transfer station, pick up curbside bins and transfer trash to larger trucks to cut down on traffic at the landfill.
The biggest problem identified with recycling is contamination of curb-side recycling bins. Following are some examples of what can and what cannot be recycled:
Inside the Recycle Bin Inside the Trash Bin
The clean cover of a pizza box The cheese & oil on the rest of the box
Plastic milk bottle, rinsed, with lid Some recyclers want the lid off
Grocery bags inside store containers Do NOT throw grocery bags into trash
Plastic is okay if it has “stretch-ability” Saran wrap, plastic wrap
Cardboard boxes, try to remove tape Paper towels, napkins in trash/compost
Clean aluminum foil, folded flat Sticky notes
Bubble wrap goes inside store containers Pet food bag (food produces oil on bag)
Envelopes with plastic windows Most receipts are thermal; trash them
Use E-mail receipts when possible Plastic straws and cutlery
Other scrap metal to metal recyclers
Mattresses if dismantled (Spring Back Utah)
CD/VHS tapes may be dropped off with some electronic waste programs, and Techno Trash may have mail-in programs.
You can drop off appliances, lawnmowers, electronics, chemicals, paint, tires, batteries, and green waste at the landfill for a fee. The physical tour of the landfill included the household hazardous waste center, the area used by subcontractors for liquid and semi-liquids, green waste, and the construction landfill. Food waste from grocery stores and restaurants accounts for 21% of waste. The landfill handles 2 million pounds per day and sells compost for $15 per cubic yard.
Over the past quarter century, China has accepted some 279 million metric tons of America’s scrap. This year, however, China stopped accepting most of the U.S.’s (and the developing world’s) scrap, which includes paper and plastic recycling. So where should it all go? Bloomberg Opinion columnists Faye Flam and Adam Minter met online recently to discuss the recycling crisis — and what, if anything, you can do about it.
That's a Lot of Scrap U.S. exported all scrap commodities to China (including Hong Kong) since 1993. (Measured in metric tons.)
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.
Is there much that any single member of the bottle-rinsing public can do to resolve this recycling crisis?
Adam: I think there are two misconceptions surrounding responsibility for the plastics and recycling crisis. The first is that it originates out of individual actions. In fact, less than 10 percent of the waste generated in the U.S., Canada, and the EU comes from households. Instead, it's further up the production chain — farms, factories, distribution points, retailers. So that means addressing the problem more systematically. The second misconception is that developed countries are the source of the problem. A 2015 study points out that the vast majority of ocean plastics actually originate in developing countries without good waste management systems. No trash pickups, informal landfills. By contrast, the U.S. contributes roughly 2 percent of the problem. That’s too much. But individual actions in the U.S. won’t change much.
Faye: Adam, I just re-read your fascinating column on straws, and was struck by how much people do want to make a difference, even if it’s tiny. I once interviewed a biologist who decided to start living plastic-free after studying birds on an island in the Pacific. She was cutting open these dead birds and finding hundreds of pieces of plastic. For some reason we seem to be very bad at disposing of our plastic trash properly. It should go in landfills if it’s not recycled but millions of tons end up in the ocean.
So people can drink from plastic soda bottles guilt-free?
Adam: Depends on the sources of your guilt!
Faye: It’s good to know that industrial plastics contribute more to the whole, but we consumers still throw away a lot of plastic and many of us would like to do it in the least harmful possible way. There’s a desire to help.
Adam: Faye makes a good point. Of the three R’s — reduce, re-use, recycle — I’d argue that the last one gets too much attention, and the first not enough. But I also think it's important to be realistic about the limits of recycling.
Can technology help solve this problem?
Adam: There’s no question that technology has always played a role in recycling. It goes back to the first time somebody held a sword over a fire and turned it into a ploughshare. But technology has never driven recycling. Instead, it’s the demand for raw materials — cheap raw materials — to make new stuff. When China started importing foreign recyclables in the mid-1980s, it wasn’t because they had any great new insight into how to process paper, metal, or plastics. Rather, they were undergoing a manufacturing boom, and they needed cheap and easy-to-access raw materials to make it go. Recyclable metal is cheaper than virgin metal, and that’s what they imported.
Then, rather than throwing new technology at the problem, they threw millions of laborers at it. As a result, recycling rates around the developed world skyrocketed as the price of recyclables rose. So the challenge now is creating new markets to replace the ones that are fading away. Technology might help that cause. But simply relocating or expanding older technologies in places where recycling is generated, like the U.S., is something that can happen now — assuming somebody sees the financial incentive to do it.
Faye: That is interesting, but as the cost of labor goes up in China, who will take up the slack and sort through our mountains of plastic trash? Are there other countries who will be able to profit from recycling it? (Chinese Imports of Plastic Waste UN Comtrade Database / Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.)
Adam: There’s no single country that can replace China’s recycling capacity. But over the last six years, we’ve seen material relocating to Southeast Asia. Manufacturers have followed. Long-term, India’s manufacturing industries will also become major importers. One additional point on this: A recent study says 111 million metric tons of plastic recyclables will be discarded over the next decade. The number could be even higher. But it’s not as if that material will be openly dumped. There’s more than adequate landfill and incinerator capacity in the U.S. to ensure it doesn’t end up in the oceans. The calculus now must be: Does it make more sense, environmentally and financially, to build up recycling capacity in the U.S.? And I think that’s where technology might provide some answers. But first, we’ll want to see the demand for those goods. Faye, I’m curious to know if you’re seeing technology develop that could create new markets.
Faye: One of the challenges the chemists tell me we face is the great variety of plastics. They can’t be recycled together, but there are chemical tricks that could make them compatible so that recyclers of the future could skip all that sorting that now requires human labor.
Adam: Do you have any sense about the quality of the plastics that would come out of those processes? Would they be as good as virgin plastics?
Faye: It would likely be about the same as recycled plastic now. It’s not good enough to make into new bottles or containers. That’s where other chemists and chemical engineers are making progress. Current recycled plastic is really “down cycled” into lawn chairs and the like, but people have invented plastics that could be made into the same bottles or containers hundreds of times.
Adam: That would be a game-changer. Do we have any sense of what kind of environmental impact those chemical processes would have? One problem regulators are facing is that some recycling is more environmentally harmful than the process of manufacturing new. I wonder if this solves that.
Faye: It depends on people’s priorities and perhaps on changes in regulation. Back in the 1980s, scientists had realized that a very important class of chemicals was destroying the ozone layer. Finding substitutes looked hard, but it happened once there was an international treaty.
Speaking of which — is there an analogy here with climate change? In that case people who cared about it pressured public officials to take action, such as joining international agreements. What is the equivalent for people who care about recycling?
Adam: Multiple studies show that improving waste collections in developing countries are the best way to reduce ocean plastics. There’s a small but growing movement, started by a group called WasteAid UK, to push international aid agencies to devote 3 percent of their budgets to waste management (currently, they devote around 0.3 percent). I think that’s worth lobbying for.
Faye: Scientists tell me they need public support to do the research necessary to improve energy efficiency, develop alternatives, capture carbon from the atmosphere, and ultimately develop plastic that can either be recycled indefinitely or will safely degrade. I was in Haiti a year or so after the earthquake, and was struck by the mountains of plastic trash. But a big portion of it consisted of water bottles, which were important for getting clean drinking water to people, and probably for saving a lot of lives. The key was finding a way to motivate people to collect the waste, so it could be profitably recycled or safely disposed of. So they started a program to pay the local residents to collect plastic for recycling.
You both seem to be giving the developed world a pass here.
Adam: Not at all! But if we’re going to focus on where the ocean plastics problem can be addressed most effectively and efficiently, it has to start in the developing world.
Faye: I think supporting research is good. Supporting better disposal infrastructure in places like Haiti also makes a difference. There are probably ways to better organize things in places where plastics are going into the oceans. And it can’t hurt for people to take the extra step of checking the Web to see what your local communities accept. As Adam mentioned, there are projections that the world will throw away as much plastic in the next 11 years as we’ve discarded since 1950. So if we think we have a problem now, it’s only going to get worse.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners. To contact the authors of this story:
Adam Minter at firstname.lastname@example.org
The only thing worse than being lied to, is not knowing you’re being lied to. It’s true that plastic pollution is a huge problem, of planetary proportions. And it’s true we could all do more to reduce our plastic footprint. The lie is that blame for the plastic problem is wasteful consumers and that changing our individual habits will fix it.
Recycling plastic is to saving the Earth what hammering a nail is to halting a falling skyscraper. You struggle to find a place to do it and feel pleased when you succeed. But your effort is wholly inadequate and distracts from the real problem of why the building is collapsing in the first place. The real problem is that single-use plastic—the very idea of producing plastic items like grocery bags, which we use for an average of 12 minutes but can persist in the environment for half a millennium—is an incredibly reckless abuse of technology. Encouraging individuals to recycle more will never solve the problem of a massive production of single-use plastic that should have been avoided in the first place.
As an ecologist and evolutionary biologist, I have had a disturbing window into the accumulating literature on the hazards of plastic pollution. Scientists have long recognized that plastics biodegrade slowly, if at all, and pose multiple threats to wildlife through entanglement and consumption. More recent reports highlight dangers posed by absorption of toxic chemicals in the water and by plastic odors that mimic some species’ natural food. Plastics also accumulate up the food chain, and studies now show that we are likely ingesting it ourselves in seafood.
The CEO of Kroger announces his plan to phase out single-use plastic bags to become a fully sustainable business with zero waste by 2025.
(Photo: Rogelio V. Solis/AP)
The plastic shopping bag’s days are numbered. Major cities around the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago to Boston, have banned their use in retail settings. Our customers have told us it makes no sense to have so much plastic only to be used once before being discarded. And they’re exactly right.
That’s why Kroger is today announcing our intention to phase out single-use plastic grocery bags from our family of stores by 2025. As America’s largest grocer, we recognize we have a responsibility to cut down on unnecessary plastic waste that contributes to litter, harms the environment and, in some cases, can endanger wildlife.
Collectively, we use100 billion plastic bags a year in the U.S. That’s a lot for something that’s almost always used once before being tossed into a landfill. You could take all those bags and fill three Houston Astrodomes from top to bottom, year after year, with nothing but plastic bags.
Replacing plastic bags with reusable bags
There are less wasteful ways to ensure shoppers can safely and conveniently transport items back to their homes, and Kroger is committed to presenting better options to our customers. We believe we can help our customers be what — at Kroger — we call “Zero Heroes.” Our ultimate goal is to shift completely over to reusable bags. But such a major change cannot happen overnight. More than nine million people walk through our doors every day, and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. That’s why we’re giving our customers plenty of time to adapt to a new way of shopping.
As always, we’re open to new ideas. We’re working with experts and partners to ease the transition, but the single most important partner we can possibly have are our customers.
During the transition, we believe firmly that "reduce, reuse and recycle" should always be our guiding principles. That’s why we plan to improve training materials for associates who are responsible for bagging to reduce the need for bags. Kroger will also continue to offer in-store recycling services for plastic bags and other plastic films. We want to be a trusted recycling partner for our customers, but we recognize merely offering such services is not enough. Kroger is committed to making a difference that can be measured.
We intend to be a zero waste business
When our company’s phase-out of single-use grocery bags is fully implemented, the waste generated by these bags at our family of stores will drop by 123 million pounds per year. To give a sense of just how big a number that is, that's equal to the weight of the entire population of Detroit.
Operating a sustainable business takes commitment. That’s why we introduced our "Zero Hunger | Zero Waste" social impact plan last year with the goal to end hunger in our communities and eliminate waste across our company. By 2025, Kroger intends to donate three billion meals and operate a fully sustainable business with zero waste.
We’d love to join other companies in the food industry — whether food retailers, restaurants or supply chain partners — for these worthy projects. They can start by joining us in taking the leap to say farewell to the plastic shopping bag.
Rodney McMullen is the chairman and CEO of Kroger.
Starbucks is the latest in a series of high-profile companies to jump on the straw bandwagon. McDonald's, SeaWorld, Hyatt and others have all done the same. The Starbucks company headquarters, the city of Seattle, also became the first major U.S. municipality to enact such a policy, and similar discussions are underway around the country.
While the little pieces of plastic have an undeniable presence as litter, some in the recycling world have questioned whether the focus on them is a distraction. Compared to fishing gear, the items comprise a minimal portion of marine debris. Yet supporters of the #StopSucking movement maintain that any piece of prevented plastic counts. They view this as a way to change cultural consumption norms in the same way that plastic bag policies have been attempted.
In the case of Starbucks, the real waste issue is plastic-lined coffee cups. Earlier this year, the company announced a multi-million-dollar research "moon shot" with Closed Loop Partners to develop new recycling options. The cup conversation has become predominant in U.K. culture over the past few years, prompting talk of a nationwide "latte levy" and a variety of moves from other large retailers. Recycling pilots are underway, both at stores and in downtown business corridors, along with various incentives for bringing reusable mugs.
If the concept of a per cup fee does catch on overseas, it will be interesting to watch whether such a concept could ever work in the U.S., where the politics around any packaging fees remain highly charged.
Disney announced plans to ban all single-use plastic straws and stirrers at all company owned and operated locations by mid-2019. In a statement, the company says that this initiative will eliminate more than 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers annually.
Over the next several years, the company also plans to transition to refillable in-room amenities within their hotels and cruise ships, which will reduce plastic in guest rooms up to 80 percent, says Disney. It will also reduce the number of plastic shopping bags on the cruise ships and will instead offer reusable bags at a "nominal" price. Disney will also eliminate polystyrene cups across its owned and operated businesses worldwide.
Aldi is one of the fastest-growing supermarket chains in the U.S., but it needs to balance that growth with sustainability initiatives that address both marketing and operations. The How2Recycle program is a highly visible education program that addresses a key shopper concern while requiring minimal lift from the retailer.
The question is, could the program's adoption precede future changes in Aldi's packaging? Ninety percent of the products sold in Aldi’s stores are private label, meaning the grocer has a large influence over how the products are packaged, sourced and delivered to its stores.
At the very least, the program should help boost customer engagement. Consumers are more eco-aware now than ever before. They're ditching plastic straws and toting reusable bags with them when they shop. Research shows they are more likely to buy from brands that take a stand on environmental issues. According to a recent study, millennials are the driving force behind corporate sustainability as the generation makes it a priority when shopping. More than nine in 10 millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause.
The How2Recycle label was created by The Sustainable Packaging Coalition for an array of reasons: to keep recycled products from ending up in landfills, to help standardize recycling labeling, and to make information easy to comprehend.
The label is currently being used by many recognizable companies including Wegman’s, Kellogg, McDonald’s, Nestle Waters’ half-liter bottles, and Proctor & Gamble’s Dawn dishwashing liquid. Wegman’s, the first retailer to adopt the How2Recycle label, includes the label on all plastic carryout bags and plastic materials throughout the stores including deli and produce bags.
Reducing waste has become a priority for retailers, with companies like Kroger and Walmart leading the charge. As consumer concerns over excess packaging and food grow, and as the business case for reducing waste becomes clearer, expect retailers to step up their involvement in the months and years to come.
It isn’t just the United States that has a problem due to China’s changes in accepting recycling products. The recycling industry has been in crisis mode in Australia since January when China, which previously bought 50% of the recycling Australia collects, implemented a ban that cut out 99% of what was sold before.
Recycling companies had relied on this export revenue stream to stay afloat – the amount of waste recycling created exceeds the demand to buy and use within Australia. Without an outlet, some companies began stockpiling recycling or sending it straight to landfill. Now the industry is in an uneasy state as it moves to fix the problem, and what happens to waste depends mostly on which bin it ends up in. Basically, it is the same situation as in the United States.
Mexico and India may be new markets. India is increasing their recycling industry. In fact, fishermen from India bring plastic waste from the ocean and recycle it into material for building roads.
'Clear and universally endorsed definitions are needed'. This new definition, which is specific to products and packaging containing plastic, seeks to eliminate confusion with a ‘consistent metric’ covering the sorting, collection, processing and destination of these products. For a product to be considered recyclable under this definition, it must meet four strict conditions:
Innovative’ materials – such as biodegradable and compostable plastics – must also be demonstrably recyclable using existing processes, or else be available in sufficient quantities to justify developing new processes to recycle them.
Tom Emans, President of Plastics Recycling Europe, said: “Recently, we have seen many announcements regarding legislative measures on plastics products and pledges of the industry actors committing to making their products recyclable.
“As recyclers, we are a fundamental part of the solution to the issue of sustainability of plastics, and we need the appropriate audiences to understand what is necessary to label a product or package ‘recyclable’. We welcome these commitments and encourage others to follow. Nevertheless, clear and universally endorsed definitions and objectives are needed.”
The definition has been supported by Petcore Europe, which represents the European PET industry: manufacturers, collectors and recyclers of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the most commonly-recycled plastic material in the EU, used to make a vast range of products including clear drinks bottles.
It remains to be seen exactly how the definition will be adopted and what sort of timescale for its adoption can be expected. The types of plastic accepted for recycling differ widely in different locations due to market variations and the availability of technology, which may make translating such a universal definition worldwide very complex. The groups have acknowledged this difficulty, saying they ‘welcome comments from the plastics recycling industry and relevant stakeholders’.
What actually happens to our used plastics when they’re hauled off to recycling centers? They might be washed and shredded, then molded into the basis for a new bottle. Or they might be melted all the way down into an oil or fuel that can be used to power cars. Scientists could also, theoretically, feed them to the much-touted plastic-eating enzyme.
But there is another way, one that could help us reuse hard-to-recycle plastics like bags. It comes courtesy of the startup BioCellection, which just partnered with San Jose to reshape the city’s recycling process.
BioCellection is the brainchild of Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao, two Chinese-Canadian entrepreneurs who started the company while they were still in college. As Wang explained to CNN, she and Yao have engineered a catalyst that breaks down plastic much like plastic-eating bacteria. But their process is supposedly cheaper and faster, taking just three hours. At the end of the cycle, the former plastic is a collection of chemicals, which can be used to make paints, nylon clothing, shoe soles, car parts, electronics, and perfumes.
Wang claims BioCellection technology has a 70 percent conversion rate, with the potential to scale up to even better numbers. San Jose is hoping to boost that rate through its newly announced pilot program with BioCellection. With the help of GreenWaste Recovery, which has provided hauling and processing services to the city since 1991, San Jose will work with BioCellection to develop and ultimately implement the process for wide-scale use. The program will last a year, focusing on plastics #2 (milk jugs, shampoo bottles, butter tubs) and #4 (grocery bags, shrink wrap.)
“We’re thrilled to be partners with GreenWaste to support BioCellection’s new technology to divert materials from the landfill to meet our zero-waste goals and protect the planet for future generations,” Kerrie Romanow, the director of San Jose Environ-mental Services, said in a press release. “At a time when recycling materials are restricted by other countries and stricter recycling mandates, we must find new, innovative ways to manage trash. This pilot is one possible solution to transform soiled plastics into usable products.”
Following is a photograph of bales of plastics and other recyclable materials which are ready to be shipped. They could be going to another country or to one of the few plants in the United States that accept such products.
Smart Demolition (a Utah business) is painstakingly taking down a house in Salt Lake City, and people will re-use the mirrors, cabinets, appliances, interior floorings, blinds, rugs, all lumber and even the tile roof, among other items. A lot goes to “Habitat for Humanity.” The brick gets recycled with the concrete. The only things they throw away are fiberglass and wallboard. It takes a lot longer and is more expensive than a typical demolition, but the owner Daniel Salmon (email@example.com) can get tax write offs for all the donations, so the cost equals out closely. They fit the goal of “re-use, re-purpose, and re-cycle.”
The Wasatch Resource Recovery (WRR) project in North Salt Lake City, Utah, has selected Trevose, Pennsylvania-based GE's Monsal* advanced anaerobic digestion technologies, to convert food waste into biogas to generate renewable energy and fertilizer. The first phase will generate up to 3,000 dekatherms a day of renewable natural gas (RNG). Once both phases are operational, WRR will supply enough RNG to meet the needs of approximately 40,000 people or 15,000 homes, GE says.
Morgan Bowerman is an interesting and avid recycler, winning a 2018 "40 under 40" award for her work in the waste and recycling industry by Waste360. She spent time in Uganda, followed by work in Colorado, and is now in Utah. She has worked at Salt Lake County Recycling specializing in education, is the current president of the Utah Recycling Alliance, and now is working towards the launching of Wasatch Resource Recovery, a food waste recycling company. Her title is Sustainability and Resource Recovery Manager. They will create renewable natural gas.
The construction of the Food Waste Anaerobic Digester is due to be completed in late November, on the back property of the current North Salt Lake Sewage Plant, coexisting with sewer. Morgan is making contracts with grocers, restaurants, caterers, and larger companies that have cafeterias for employees (like the Courts). They hope to truck in food waste beginning in February 2019, since they will need to do testing for four to six weeks. North Salt Lake will notice a bill reduction of 5x due to coexisting with sewer!
This venture has ALPro Energy and Water, owned by Alder Construction as the actual corporation in the public-private partnership, and currently Momentum Glass is the only commercial food waste hauler, taking fruit and vegetable scrap. They will start with commercial grade food waste with fruits and vegetables, then later will add meat, dairy, oil, sugary foods, and processed foods. Nestle Stouffer’s in Springville will send about 75 liquid tons per day. Nestle has a zero to landfill policy.
Tipping fees will be about $10 per ton for anaerobic food waste, as opposed to $30 per ton to the landfill. They will even have de-packaging facilities, so items will not be required to come container free. They are hoping to have an open house on October 16, 2018. Morgan is hopeful appropriate locations can have a separation of organic and non-organic items for bins, and thus have the non-organic picked up less frequently as it will not mold or smell, thus allowing businesses to pay charges for their organics bins.
Morgan also mentioned Renewology http://www.renewology.com/ which makes fuel out of recycled plastic.
Springback, (http://www.springbackutah.com), a mattress recycling company employs people who need jobs (such as persons out of prison), to take mattresses apart and recycle the different materials. Mattresses take up a great deal of landfill room as they don’t compress.
The WRR project—a joint venture between ALPro Energy and Water and the South Davis Sewer District—will become a food waste digestion facility that will divert 180,000 tons of food waste per year from area landfills, extending the life of these landfills as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 12,000 cars off the highway, according to GE.
Is this the decade when we solve ocean plastic — or repeat the mistakes of the past?
Recently, Nathaniel Rich told an incredible story about the decade when we could have stopped global warming. In the 1980s, "The world’s major powers came within several signatures of endorsing a binding, global framework to reduce carbon emissions — far closer than we’ve come since," he wrote. "During those years, the conditions for success could not have been more favorable. The obstacles we blame for our current inaction had yet to emerge. Almost nothing stood in our way — nothing except ourselves."
From environmentalists and governments to consumer brands and plastic companies, we all agree on the science and the solutions.
It’s nearly impossible to imagine this kind of consensus today — in a world that every day feels more and more divided. Yet plastic waste and ocean pollution actually could be the issues that connect us.
From environmentalists and governments to consumer brands and plastic companies, we all agree on the science and the solutions:
If we follow through, not only will we stop ocean plastic, we also, dramatically, will improve the livelihoods of the people living in these communities — and our collective future.
Circulate Capital was founded to accelerate the engagement of the financial sector to enable and deploy billions of dollars to build the systems needed. But money can’t solve anything by itself — we need all stakeholders to play roles and drive solutions.
We must expect companies and cities to act responsibly within waste and recycling systems.
Ocean plastic pollution is a systemic problem that requires a systems solution.
Take healthcare, for example. It’s as easy to suggest that consumer goods companies or cities should clean up plastic waste as it is to suggest they should provide insurance for their employees. But few expect cities to own health insurance companies or hospitals. Instead, they work with insurance and with medical providers to deliver on those expectations. Using such an analogy, we must expect companies and cities to act responsibly with waste and recycling systems.
These systems depend on:
This is the year the world decided to pay attention to ocean plastic. We can’t afford to miss the opportunity — as we did in the 1980s on climate change. It’s not a perspective issue. There must be no political divide. We need to work together to create solutions, not compete amongst ourselves. If we don’t take advantage of this opportunity to make a real impact, we only have ourselves to blame.
Waste bins in Kamikatsu, a town in Japan without garbage trucks.
Consider this — if your neighbor disposes of a product in the garbage that could instead be recycled, it is your tax dollars that pay to send it to landfill.
Americans currently recycle over 90 million tons of metal, paper, plastics, electronics, textiles and glass annually. What would happen if Americans didn’t recycle that amount? Our communities would have to pay over $3 billion annually in landfill disposal fees in order to remove all of that valuable and sellable recyclable paper, metal, plastic and glass. Additionally, our communities would forego the over $100 billion in economic activity generated by the recycling industry in the United States, including 540,000 American jobs.
For Americans, recycling is a matter of economic self-interest. Recycling our cardboard, paper, beverage bottles, rigid plastics containers, and aluminum cans has three important outcomes. First, it reduces the cost to manufacture the products we buy. Second, it reduces the amount of our taxpayer dollars used every year to pay landfills. Third, it generates revenue for our communities via the sale of recyclable commodities. The average cost to landfill a ton of material in the United States is $50 and over $100 per ton in major population centers.
Albreck-Ripka, Livia, “Your Recycling Gets Recycled, Right? Maybe, or Maybe Not,” The New York Times, May 29, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/29/climate/recycling-landfills-plastic-papers.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Flivia-albeck-ripka&action=click&contentCollection=undefined®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=6&pgtype=collection.
Ally, Imam Shabir, “Climate Change: A Call for Personal Changes,” Why Islam? Accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.whyislam.org/socia-issues/environment-and-islam/
Barron, Fr. Robert, “Laudato Si, Word on Fire, accessed November 15, 2018. https://laudatosi.com/watch/.
Boffey, Daniel, “EU Declares War on Plastic Waste,” The Guardian, January 16, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/16/eu-declares-war-on-plastic-waste-2030.
Bowen, Nelson, interview, July 19,2018.
Bowerman, Margaret, interview, September 5, 2018.
Burns, Janet, “Disney Announces Plan to Drop Plastic Straws and Stirrers by 2019,” Forbes, July 27, 1018. https://www,forbes.com/sites/janetwburns/2018/07/27/disney-announces-plan-to-drop-plastic-straws-and-stirrers-by-2019/#3c0f03e81581.
“Business and Multi-Family Ordinance,” Business Recycling, Salt Lake City, accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.slc.gov/sustainability/waste-management/business-recycling.
“Business and Multi-Family Recycling Ordinance,” SLCGreen, accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.slcdocs.com/slcgreen/Business Recycling/SLC Business Recycling Toolkit May 2017.pdf.
Closer, Mary, interview, August 9, 2018.
Davis County Landfill, interview, June 2018.
Earl, Carly and Zhou, Naaman, “Hidden in Plain Sight: What the Recycling Crisis Really Looks Like,” The Guardian, July 7, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/06/hidden-in-plain-sight-what-the-recycling-crisis-really-looks-like.
“Environmental Stewardship and Conservation,” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.lds.org/topics/environmental-stewardship-andconservation?lang=eng.
EPA, accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.epa.gov.
E. T. Technologies, Inc., accessed November 17, 2018. http://www.ettech-env.com.
Flam, Faye and Minter, Adam, “Now China Refuses to Be Dumping Ground for the World’s Waste, Where on Earth Will It Go?” Post Magazine, July 9, 2018. https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/2154105/now-china-refuses-be-dumping-ground-worlds-waste.
Garfield, Leanna, “The Simple Way This Japanese Town Has Become Nearly Zero-Waste,” Business Insider, July 10, 2017. https://www.businessinsider.com/zero-waste-town-kamikatsu-japan-2017-7.
Gibson, Josh, Interview, August 7, 2018.
“Glass Recycling is Gaining Momentum in Utah,” Momentum Recycling, accessed November 16, 2018. https://utah.momentumrecycling.com.
Green Planet 21, accessed November 17, 2018. https://greenplanet21.com.
Herhof GMBH, accessed November 16, 2018, http://www.herhof.com/en/products/waste-to-energy.html.
Holbrook, Beth, interview, June 21, 2018.
Hunt, Kristin, “San Jose Is Recycling Its Plastics with a Revolutionary New Method,” GREENMATTERS, accessed August 28, 2018. https://www.greenmatters.com/renewables/2018/08/28/1QvCD7/san-jose-biocellection-plastic-recycling.
“International Plastics Recycling Groups Announce Global Definition of ‘Plastics Recyclability,’” Plastic Recyclers Europe, July 12, 2018. https://www.plasticsrecyclers.eu/international-plastic-recycling-groups-announce-global-definition-plastics-recyclability.
Interwest Paper, Inc. accessed November 16, 2018. http://www.interwestpaper.com.
“Impact on Issues 2016 – 2018 – Online,” LWV, accessed November 16, 2018. www.lwv.org/league-management/other-issues-tools/impact-issues-2016-2018-online-edition.
Iwamoto, Jani, interview, June 19,2018.
Johnson, Davis and Bailey, Ashley, interview, July 10, 2018.
Kaplan, Rob, “This Is an Incredible Opportunity to Make an Impact on Plastic,” GreenBiz, August 27, 2018. https://www.greenbiz.com/article/now-incredible-opportunity-make-impact-plastic.
Keller, Pete, interview.
McIntire, Mary, Whitlock, Kate, and Sheehan, Pat, interview, July 16, 2018.
McMullen, Rodney, “Kroger, America’s Largest Supermarket Chain, Bids Farewell to the Plastic Shopping Bag,” USA Today, August 23, 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/08/23/kroger-plastic-bag-ban-reusable-recycle-straws-environment-column/1061723002.
Metech Recycling, accessed November 16, 2018. https://www.metechrecycling.com.
Momentum Recycling, accessed November 16, 2018. https://utah.momentumrecycling.com.
“Ocean Plastic: Plastic Pollution Is Reaching a Critical Point,” National Geographic, accessed December 8, 2018. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/ocean-plastic.
“Plastic Lasts More than a Lifetime, and That’s the Problem,” PBS News Hour, September 25, 2018. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/plastic-lasts-more-than-a-lifetime-and-thats-the-problem.
Recycle Utah, accessed November 16, 2018. www.recycleutah.org.
“Recycling Myths,” BYU Idaho, accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.byui.edu/university-operations/facilities-management/recycling-and-sustainability/recycling-myths.
“Request for Proposals (RFP): Plastics #3-#7 Diversion Program,” City of Phoenix, June 7. 2018. https://www.phoenix.gov/financesite/SolicitationAttachments/RFP%2019-SW-007%20Solicitation.pdf#search=rfp%20plastics.
Rich, Nathaniel, “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change,” The New York Times Magazine, August 17, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/01/magazine/climate-change-losin-earth.html.
Roberts, Pam and Allen, Lance, interview, June 28, 2018.
Rosenglen, Cole, “Starbucks Continues Sustainability Announcements with UK Cup Surcharge”: https://www.wastedive.com/news/starbucks-sustainability-uk-cup-surcharge/527443/.
Rosenglen, Cole, “Starbucks in Recycling Mode”, July 10, 2018. https://www.wastedive.com/news/starbucks-sustainability-uk-cup-surcharge/527433.
Schwartz, Richard, “Jewish Teachings on Ecology,” Jewcology.org, last modified October 18, 2017. http://jewcolog.org/2017/10/jewish-teachings-on-ecology/.
“Taking Bioenergy Products from Inception to Completion,” ALPro Energy and Water, accessed December 8, 2018. http://alproenergy.com.
Thakker, Krishna, “Aldi Adopts Recycling Label Across Its Store Brands,” Grocery Dive, July 12, 2018. https://www.grocerydive.com/news/grocery-aldi-adopts-recycling-label-across-its-store-brands/533865.
Utah Recycling Alliance, accessed November 16, 2018. https://www.utahrecyclingalliance.org.
“Utilities and Garbage,” City of North Salt Lake, accessed November 16, 2018. https://www.nslcity.org/107/Utilities-Garbage.
Wasatch Recovery Treatment Center, access November 15, 2018. www.wasatchrecovery.com.
Wetzel, Vickie, interview, June 13, 2018.
Wilkins, Matt, “More Recycling Won’t Solve Plastic Pollution,” Scientific American, July 6, 2018. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/more-recycling-wont-solve-plastic-pollution.
 Albreck-Ripka, Livia, “Your Recycling Gets Recycled, Right? Maybe, or Maybe Not,” The New York Times, May 29, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/29/climate/recycling-landfills-plastic-papers.html?rref=collection%2Fbyline%2Flivia-albeck-ripka&action=click&contentCollection=undefined®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=6&pgtype=collection.
 Keller, Pete, interview.
 “Recycling Myths,” BYU Idaho, accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.byui.edu/university-operations/facilities-management/recycling-and-sustainability/recycling-myths.
 “Environmental Stewardship and Conservation,” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.lds.org/topics/environmental-stewardship-andconservation?lang=eng.
 Schwartz, Richard, “Jewish Teachings on Ecology,” Jewcology.org, last modified October 18, 2017. http://jewcolog.org/2017/10/jewish-teachings-on-ecology/.
 Ally, Imam Shabir, “Climate Change: A Call for Personal Changes,” Why Islam? accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.whyislam.org/socia-issues/environment-and-islam/.
 Wasatch Recovery Treatment Center, accessed November 15, 2018. www.wasatchrecovery.com.
 Boffey, Daniel, “EU Declares War on Plastic Waste,” The Guardian, January 16, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jan/16/eu-declares-war-on-plastic-waste-2030.
 “Request for Proposals (RFP): Plastics #3-#7 Diversion Program,” City of Phoenix, June 7. 2018. https://www.phoenix.gov/financesite/SolicitationAttachments/RFP%2019-SW-007%20Solicitation.pdf#search=rfp%20plastics.
 “Business and Multi-Family Recycling Ordinance,” SLCGreen, accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.slcdocs.com/slcgreen/Business Recycling/SLC Business Recycling Toolkit May 2017.pdf.
 “Plastic Lasts More than a Lifetime, and That’s the Problem,” PBS News Hour, September 25, 2018. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/plastic-lasts-more-than-a-lifetime-and-thats-the-problem.
 “Impact on Issues 2016 – 2018 – Online,” LWV, accessed November 16, 2018. www.lwv.org/league-management/other-issues-tools/impact-issues-2016-2018-online-edition.
 Wetzel, Vickie, interview, June 13, 2018.
 Closer, Mary, interview, August 9, 2018.
 Bowen, Nelson, interview, July 19,2018.
 Iwamoto, Jani, interview, June 19,2018.
 Davis County Landfill, interview, June 2018.
 Holbrook, Beth, interview, June 21, 2018.
 Herhof GMBH, accessed November 16, 2018, http://www.herhof.com/en/products/waste-to-energy.html.
 Roberts, Pam and Allen, Lance, interview, June 28, 2018.
 McIntire, Mary, Whitlock, Kate, and Sheehan, Pat, interview, July 16, 2018.
 A gate fee (or tipping fee) is the charge levied upon a given quantity of waste received at a waste processing facility. In the case of a landfill it is generally levied to offset the cost of opening, maintaining and eventually closing the site.
 Gibson, Josh, interview, August 7, 2018.
 “Business and Multi-Family Ordinance,” Business Recycling, Salt Lake City, accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.slc.gov/sustainability/waste-management/business-recycling.
 Johnson, Davis and Bailey, Ashley, interview, July 10, 2018.
 Flam, Faye and Minter, Adam, “Now China Refuses to Be Dumping Ground for the World’s Waste, Where on Earth Will It Go?” Post Magazine, July 9, 2018. https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/2154105/now-china-refuses-be-dumping-ground-worlds-waste.
 Wilkins, Matt, “More Recycling Won’t Solve Plastic Pollution,” Scientific American, July 6, 2018. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/more-recycling-wont-solve-plastic-pollution.
 McMullen, Rodney, “Kroger, America’s Largest Supermarket Chain, Bids Farewell to the Plastic Shopping Bag,” USA Today, August 23, 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/08/23/kroger-plastic-bag-ban-reusable-recycle-straws-environment-column/1061723002.
 Rosenglen, Cole, “Starbucks in Recycling Mode”, July 10, 2018. https://www.wastedive.com/news/starbucks-sustainability-uk-cup-surcharge/527433.
 Burns, Janet, “Disney Announces Plan to Drop Plastic Straws and Stirrers by 2019,” Forbes, July 27, 1018. https://www,forbes.com/sites/janetwburns/2018/07/27/disney-announces-plan-to-drop-plastic-straws-and-stirrers-by-2019/#3c0f03e81581.
 Thakker, Krishna, “Aldi Adopts Recycling Label Across Its Store Brands,” Grocery Dive, July 12, 2018. https://www.grocerydive.com/news/grocery-aldi-adopts-recycling-label-across-its-store-brands/533865.
Earl, Carly and Zhou, Naaman, “Hidden in Plain Sight: What the Recycling Crisis Really Looks Like,” The Guardian, July 7, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/06/hidden-in-plain-sight-what-the-recycling-crisis-really-looks-like.
“International Plastics Recycling Groups Announce Global Definition of ‘Plastics Recyclability,’” Plastic Recyclers Europe, July 12, 2018. https://www.plasticsrecyclers.eu/international-plastic-recycling-groups-announce-global-definition-plastics-recyclability.
 Hunt, Kristin, “San Jose Is Recycling Its Plastics with a Revolutionary New Method,” GREENMATTERS, accessed August 28, 2018. https://www.greenmatters.com/renewables/2018/08/28/1QvCD7/san-jose-biocellection-plastic-recycling.
Personal Interviews, August 2018.
 Bowerman, Margaret, personal interview, September 5, 2018.
 Kaplan, Rob, “This Is an Incredible Opportunity to Make an Impact on Plastic,” GreenBiz, August 27, 2018. https://www.greenbiz.com/article/now-incredible-opportunity-make-impact-plastic.
 Rich, Nathaniel, “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change,” The New York Times Magazine, August 17, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/01/magazine/climate-change-losin-earth.html.
 Garfield, Leanna, “The Simple Way This Japanese Town Has Become Nearly Zero-Waste,” Business Insider, July 10, 2017. https://www.businessinsider.com/zero-waste-town-kamikatsu-japan-2017-7.
 “Ocean Plastic: Plastic Pollution Is Reaching a Critical Point,” National Geographic, accessed December 8, 2018. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/ocean-plastic.
 Rosenglen, Cole, “Starbucks Continues Sustainability Announcements with UK Cup Surcharge”: https://www.wastedive.com/news/starbucks-sustainability-uk-cup-surcharge/527443/.