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WASTE WATCHERS BLOG

Helping businesses improve their waste diversion & recycling efforts, one post at a time!

Ryan Deer

Recent Posts

Trend to Watch: Cost Containment for Waste and Recycling Operations

With 21 months in the rearview of the pandemic, making any trend predictions with certainty has been a challenge, especially for the waste and recycling industry. One lock? Waste fees will be on the rise.

  While laying out a set of bold predictions and educated analysis are generally open to interpretation, one trend for 2022 isn’t up for debate: The cost of solid waste and recycling is rising. Numerous factors have led to year-over-year increase for the cost of doing business as it relates to managing byproducts and waste materials. And when working with traditional haulers, offloading this trash responsibly undoubtedly comes with a hefty price tag. So, as a convergence of new trends stands to disrupt solid waste management, we’re zeroing in on how much each might cost you—and providing a plan to contain them.

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What Businesses Can Learn from the Waste Industry's Rollercoaster Year

Between regular service interruptions, unanticipated natural roadblocks, and sustainability practices under the microscope, companies must grow from the hard lessons learned from waste collection in this past year.

  For many businesses, managing waste and recycling may have once been as routine as, well… taking out the trash. But, as a turbulent year like 2021 has demonstrated, responsible waste management is no longer as easy as auto-renewing an antiquated plan. Between regular service interruptions, unanticipated natural roadblocks, and sustainability practices under the microscope, companies must grow from the hard lessons learned from waste collection in this past year.

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Predicting the Next Plastic Ban

As the country as a whole seeks to become more sustainable, cutting out single-use plastic has become the rule. Yet, the move away isn’t black and white for the businesses who use them. So, we use our materials expertise to speculate on the products where you’ll soon need to make a pivot.

  For the past five years, grocery bags, plastic straws, and polystyrene takeout containers have faced a reckoning, and for good reason. Awakened to the reality of environmental distress from single-use plastics, cities and states have moved to ban hard-to-recycle products from our everyday lives. Hardly opposed, consumers have largely welcomed the changes and demanded more from the companies that use and produce them—and many have answered in turn. Undoubtedly, as sustainability promises grow, more outlawed plastic will follow. This change to everyday operations can be a shock for those businesses who missed the writing on the wall, so we’re providing a speculative analysis of the unsustainable products in our culture that may soon be banned.

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3 Ways to Reduce Waste This Thanksgiving

Between food scraps and convenience-based shortcuts, the holidays heighten waste production more than any other time of year. But, by following a few simple tips for waste reduction and recycling, you’ll have the opportunity to make sustainability a Thanksgiving tradition.

  To many, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season—a time for togetherness, cheer… and, unfortunately, 25% more U.S. waste generation than any other time in the year. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans send an additional one million pounds of trash to landfill every week. And not to be overshadowed by the December celebrations, convenience-factor flatware choices, inevitable spill cleanup, and a feast’s worth of food scraps have made Turkey Day increasingly wasteful.  But, it doesn’t have to be.  By following a few simple tips for waste reduction and recycling, you’ll have the opportunity to make sustainability a Thanksgiving tradition.

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America Recycles Day is About Responsible Waste Management

Amidst criticism of America’s broken waste and recycling system, more headlines crop up each day doubting recycling’s efficacy. So, to mark America Recycles Day this Nov. 15th, RoadRunner is reframing the issue for sustainable businesses: Conventional recycling is actually a waste issue.

  This year alone, you may have seen a handful of headlines raising serious doubts about the practice of recycling. Is Recycling Worth It Anymore?, asks NPR.  Is Recycling a Waste?, questions CNBC. Recycling is not the answer, posits British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But as America Recycles Day takes place as usual this November 15th, RoadRunner has a new message for sustainable businesses:  Conventional recycling may have its flaws, but pledging to harness its power—and learning to do it right—is a crucial component to overall responsible waste management.

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What's the Difference Between Upcycling and Downcycling?

For manufacturers and producers, time is money and haste makes waste. But what if time was invested to transform trash into treasure? While recycling is the de facto choice for circularity, many companies are turning to “upcycling” and “downcycling” to reduce burgeoning waste management fees and cut their carbon footprint.

  In American manufacturing, operations make margins by making haste. And all along the products’ life cycles—design to production to consumption—that urgency creates costly waste. It’s no secret that waste is a problem for the United States. Despite accounting for only 4% of the global population, the U.S. accounts for nearly 12% of global waste production and recycles significantly less (about 32%) than any other developed nation. Part of our shortcomings have stemmed from a myopic view of recycling. While the most common form of recycling sees products broken down and formed into the same or similar products, the practices of “upcycling” and “downcycling” have become creative and sustainable ways to employ valuable materials and preserve natural resources. From residual food and textile scraps to plastic bags and old cardboard, the second life for many materials is a fork in the road—and, up or down, both lead to an opportunity to drastically reduce waste.

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Understanding CSR and the Triple Bottom Line

With temperatures rising and brand reputations at stake, the triple bottom line is at the center of both private and public sector discussion. We explain why equally prioritizing people, planet, and profit is the future of corporate social responsibility.

  CEOs and general managers constantly keep one eye on the path forward and the other firmly on the bottom line. But with today’s climate, the top companies in the world are seeing triple, not double, when setting the year’s fiscal policy. With temperatures rising and brand reputations at stake, the triple bottom line—a framework that emphasizes social, environmental, and financial accountability—is at the center of both private and public sector discussion. With corporate social responsibility (CSR) becoming less voluntary and more essential to everyday business, the ethical and sustainable choices have often become the most profitable. Doing it correctly, however, requires expertise many companies don’t have.

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What Does the Supply Chain Crisis Mean for Recycled PET Plastic?

As the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach face the brunt of the supply chain crisis of the century, both manufacturers and consumers have felt the ripple effect. Yet, lost in the kerfuffle are recyclers, who may have the tallest order of all: scrounging up enough recycled plastic to meet U.S. manufacturer demand.

  A traffic jam of historic proportions, an estimated half-million shipping containers are floating aimlessly off the coast of California. And unlike going bumper to bumper at rush hour, the frustration is affecting more than just the drivers. As the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach face the brunt of the supply chain crisis of the century, both manufacturers and consumers have felt the ripple effect. Yet, lost in the kerfuffle are recyclers, who may have the tallest order of all. With our import/export market crippled, U.S. manufacturers’ insatiable demand for recycled PET plastic, known as rPET, will need to find an alternative route around the roadblocks.

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The Golden Rules of Recycling

Like learning how to do your taxes and understanding the housing market, the golden rules of recycling were conspicuously absent from most Americans’ formal education. However, learning some basics can improve your business's recycling rate exponentially!

  Like doing your taxes and DIY home improvement, there’s a certain amount of guesswork that goes into Americans’ recycling practices. And like the first two, it comes with consequences. The majority of Americans are ill-prepared, ill-informed, and ill-advised when it comes to recycling, lacking the guiding principles and educational building blocks that form an efficient, successful system. The considerable gap in comprehension contributes to a national recycling rate that’s never topped 35% and a quarter of every collection is lost to contamination. Yet, if every U.S. citizen had committed just a few general principles—or even some bare necessities—to memory the same way we all learned classroom respect and the order of operations (PEMDAS, remember?), America’s recycling system would shine brighter. Fresh out of school or 40 years on the job, it’s never too late to learn the golden rules of recycling.

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