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WASTE WATCHERS BLOG

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

How Businesses Can Help The Plastic Problem in the World's Oceans

Our oceans are cluttered with plastic pollution. Not only is it unsightly, but this impacts the health of our ocean, contributes to rising temperatures, and even affects the quality of our diet. In this post, we explore how we got here, and what businesses can do to help reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean.

  The sun beats down as you gaze out over the cobalt blue ocean. The thunderous waves continue their relentless pounding as you curl your toes into the hot sand. Breathing in the warm salty air tickles your nose while you lean back in your beach chair. Here and there along the shore, you come across a half-buried plastic bag, an empty soda bottle coughed onto the sand, and an old fishing net lazily bobbing in the surf.    For many of us, this is the extent of our experience with ocean garbage. On vacation at our favorite beach spots, we might come across some evidence of trash once in a while. But that’s barely scratching the surface of the problem. Like particle physics, it’s hard for us to wrap our heads around the amount of trash floating around our blue planet without interacting with it or seeing it. 

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Do Plastic Bag Bans Work? The Green Reasons for More Education

The movement to ban single-use plastic bags across the globe is growing as more cities, states, and countries see them as an environmental mess instead of a handy way to carry things. Despite this idea gaining traction, there are some fringe consequences. We’ll take a look at the good, the bad, and the better ways to go with these bags to have the greatest impact on saving the environment.

  The movement to ban single-use plastic bags across the globe is growing as more cities, states, and countries see them as an environmental mess instead of a handy way to carry things. Despite this idea gaining traction, there are some fringe consequences.  We’ll take a look at the good, the bad, and the better ways to go with these bags to have the greatest impact on saving the environment.

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Celebrate Spring Holidays with Eco-Friendly Ideas

From egg hunts, to the massive amounts of candy, to Peter Cottontail hopping around; there’s a lot for many of us to celebrate in the spring season. If we want this yearly celebration of rebirth to continue, then we need to take a hard look at how we’re marking the day, and how we’re cleaning up afterward.

  From egg hunts, to the massive amounts of candy, to Peter Cottontail hopping around; there’s a lot for many of us to celebrate in the spring season. The sunny, warm days are here, and things are greening up everywhere you look. If we want this yearly celebration of rebirth to continue, then we need to take a hard look at how we’re marking the days, and how we’re cleaning up afterward.   First, we need to talk about a major part of any spring celebration: the plastic eggs. Newsflash, there’s an extremely high chance that they can’t be tossed into your local recycling bins. Plastics 1 and 2 are widely accepted in most recycling programs. Items marked 3-7 are not, especially after markets dried up and many foreign countries stopped accepting shipments of the material from the U.S. That’s where the plastic eggs fall, in the plastics 3-7 range. If you’re lucky enough to have a place nearby to take them, that’s great. In many cases, the eggs and their packaging don’t have any markings at all to indicate what type of plastic was used. Sadly, the best advice is to reuse them or toss them in the garbage.    MORE INFO: How to read plastic recycling symbols

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Plastic Packaging; Why It's A Problem & Tips To Use Less

Plastic waste has become a huge problem across the globe. Looking for ways to reduce your plastic usage? Check out our tips to learn how to cut down on plastic packaging.

  The amount of plastic waste generated yearly is an astonishing 300 million metric tons. For comparison, that is roughly the weight of the entire human population. What’s worse, only a mere 10% of this plastic is recycled or reused according to Earth Day Network.  Our planet is choking on plastic - we see it on the side of the road, piling up in landfills, and cluttering the oceans. Not only is it unsightly, but the CO2 emissions are adding to the growing problem of climate change and harming the natural environment. What’s the good news? Well, consumers are becoming more aware of this problem and companies are searching for more eco-friendly solutions to reduce their plastic waste. Continue reading to learn more about plastic packaging and tips for reducing your plastic waste.

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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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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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What Are Eco-Friendly Plastics and How Are They Recycled?

Recognizing the environmental detriment of petroleum-based plastics, companies are switching over to "eco-friendly" plastics. But with new materials come new rules for recycling—and your business will need to learn them fast.

  Our society’s relationship with plastic is complicated. Over 100 years, the man-made, petroleum-based polymer has gone from miracle material to environmental villain. The status quo for decades, a recent shifting in consumer preference, advancement in materials sciences, and legislation protecting the Earth have given rise to a world of “eco-friendly” plastics. From packaging to the products themselves, bio-based, biodegradable, and recycled materials are finding purchase. While considered an exciting and positive development by most, the recycling process for these products isn’t as simple as “green means go.” With new, sustainable materials come new rules for recycling—and you’ll need to learn them fast. 

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5 Steps Businesses Can Take to Fight Climate Change

After a revelatory IPCC report, climate change is once again in the public spotlight. We examine how its potential impacts affect both the planet and business world, providing tips for taking action.

This post was originally published by Shelby Bell in June 2020 and has been updated. With each new sunrise, the prospect of work brings another day, another dollar. And for many, the honest work we do day in and day out may be rooted in tradition—operating with practices as old as the organization itself. But everything that works for us, be it ho-hum or windfall, has come into question now that the Earth has stopped acting like it’s business as usual. Debated for its existence, severity, and real impacts, climate change has been thrust into the spotlight once again with a new message for businesses: innovate... or else. As the thermostat rises, clock ticks, and whatever other metaphors are used in sensational headlines about a societal SOS, many business owners are lining up to ask “what can I do about climate change?”  The answer is not as easy as flicking a switch. In fact, it might be like rewiring the entire breaker box. But, as you’ll see, the decisions we must make are no longer a line in the sand. In today’s heated world, the most sustainable choices will become the most profitable. Note: if you already know about climate change, you can jump right to our 5 sustainable steps to fight it!

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Why is Recycling “Styrofoam” an Environmental Problem?

Whether you know it as "Styrofoam" or polystyrene, we know it as an incredibly challenging recycling problem. We explore the what the plastic material is used for, how it affects the environment, and what your business can do to reduce and recycle it.

This post was originally published in April 2020 by Shelby Bell and has been updated. “Styrofoam.” “Polystyrene.” “EPS.” No matter what you call it, it’s likely we’re all talking about the same plastic material. It forms the cups we keep next to the office coffee pot, braces our new printers in the box, and arrives in clamshell form whenever we order takeout or when our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.  Among its virtues, it’s lightweight, durable, and inexpensive. For years, “Styrofoam” has melted into whatever form we desired and has been perpetuated by countless use cases throughout the consumer economy. But its single-use nature presents a dark side: It will crumble and scatter in the wind; it will take up an inordinate amount of space in landfill; and it will still be there long after your great-grandchildren have great-great-grandchildren. That’s because there are very few recyclers that can process it, and the majority of haulers will instruct you to trash it. While reduction efforts and state mandates promote changes, if you realize how far polystyrene has expanded into our society, then you’ll understand it’s no easy problem to shrink.

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