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WASTE WATCHERS BLOG

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

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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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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Everything You Need to Know About Zero Waste to Landfill

By comprehending the concept of zero waste to landfill (ZWTL) and how to transform your business’s operations to meet the often-targeted sustainability goal, you’ll be able to divert from our nation’s economic and environmental collision course with a mountain of waste.

  Sustainability is the mission. Positive cost-benefit is a requirement. Brand perception is a byproduct. But, at the heart of every “zero waste to landfill” commitment is one fundamental fact: sending waste to the landfill is something to be avoided. As the largest legacy brands in the United States and around the world line up to announce responsible waste diversion and recycling goals, it’s important as a business to understand the undertaking. By comprehending the concept of zero waste to landfill (ZWTL) and how to transform your business’s operations to meet the often-targeted sustainability goal, you’ll be able to divert from our nation’s economic and environmental collision course with a mountain of waste.

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In the Know: Our 5 Most Popular Recycling Guides

Confronted with unique problems and emerging innovation to fix them, the talk of the waste world might seem foreign to the average business owner. From environmentalism to sustainability to the inside track on cutting operational costs, our top posts will catch you up to speed.

  Like the news cycle itself, the waste and recycling management industry never sleeps. Confronted with unique problems and emerging innovation to fix them, the talk of the waste world might seem foreign to the average business owner. Luckily, with a decade in the space, talking trash has become RoadRunner’s forte. We believe waste management should be easy and accessible—so we distill the complex into simple, easy-to-understand articles and guides. From environmentalism to sustainability to the inside track on cutting operational costs, RoadRunner has a broad library of resources for improving your knowledge base, as well as perspective-based thought leadership channeled from our organization’s top minds. These are our top five most-read topics...

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What is Extended Producer Responsibility?

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is finding acceptance. Read why some companies are embracing this principle, why others aren't, and how your company might apply this concept to its business practices to garner results.

This post was originally published by Shelby Bell in 2020 and has been updated. America has a bit of a problem. In 2020, the EPA set its first-ever National Recycling Goal, aiming to achieve a 50% overall (all-material) recycling rate by 2030. The issue, however, is that since 2005, our progress in that arena has been stagnant. The U.S. has never topped a 35% national recycling rate, and rampant “wishcycling”—the process of adding an item to your recycling bin without knowing if it’s actually recyclable—has led to overall contamination rates soaring over 25%. It’s a problem as complex as, say, your standard juice box. Juice boxes are constructed with three to six layers of paper, plastic, and aluminum, plus a plastic straw wrapped in plastic film affixed to the side with a glob of glue. They are very hard to recycle. As is the nature of big problems in the United States, there has been more than one opinion on how best to tackle tricky recycling challenges (like juice boxes) within the country’s inefficient recycling system. And one of the most hotly debated topics revolves around determining who’s really responsible for making it work. In 2021, with sustainability and environmentalism at the forefront of both consumer and business conversations, there’s a growing movement that believes businesses should be held accountable for their products through product stewardship, a concept known as extended producer responsibility (commonly shortened to “EPR”). Through corporate governance, regulation, and the influence of the consumer, EPR may have a major impact on how both businesses and the waste industry operate for decades to come. But it’s no magic pill, and knowing the concept’s pros and cons is essential for sustainable decisions to come.

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10 Environmental & Sustainability Initiatives to Know This Year

In this post, we’re covering some of the year's most impactful environmental, recycling, and sustainability initiatives in the business world.

  Sustainability is an undeniable cause, a ubiquitous movement, and now, an expected undertaking for businesses. If your company doesn’t practice it, it risks losing both perception and profits. The broad, admirable movements of environmentalism and sustainability, however, are veering dangerously toward becoming buzzwords in the business world. And that’s because of greenwashing: the act of convincing the public (sometimes deceptively) that one’s products and policies are environmentally friendly… when, technically, they’re not. As a waste and recycling management operator at the intersection of environmentalism and sustainability, RoadRunner’s position and experience allow us some perspective. While corporate sustainability announcements occur every day, this year, there have been some major developments in legislation, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and in society as a whole that we think are legitimate and meaningful—and may even inspire your business to create a sustainability story of its own. These are the 10 stories you need to follow this year.

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The Growing Waste & Recycling Problems from PPE, Masks, and COVID-19

In this blog post, we dive more into the increased plastic pollution problem as a result of the pandemic, additional areas of impact, and how humanity can recognize and take necessary steps to alleviate the PPE problem before it’s too late.

**This article was originally published October 2020 and has been updated. More than 12 months after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, we’re still dependent on those disposable blue “paper” masks. The world uses 129 billion per month, 3 million a minute, or 50,000 every second depending on how you frame it. But what most of the world hasn’t pictured is the convergence of pandemics—because the masks we’ve relied on to dampen transmission aren’t just paper. They’re polypropylene too, the same plastic used for drinking straws and ketchup bottles. As the world grapples with a glut of plastics in its soil, drinking water, and even the tip of Mt. Everest, we’re faced with a new mountain of a problem: trillions of discarded masks with virtually no solution to recycle them. While no one could have predicted a pandemic or its many byproducts, without collective action and innovative thinking, we’ll be fighting personal protective equipment (PPE) long after the novel coronavirus is gone.

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Landfills: We're Running Out of Space

All over the country, subterranean garbage heaps called landfills are rising, fueled by the 292.4 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) the US produces each year. For many Americans, “out of sight, out of mind” is good enough. But inevitably, major problems will surface. From hazardous waste to running out of space, we may be overwhelmed by the rising cost of landfills this century.

This post was originally posted March 2018 and has updated with recent data and analysis March 2021. What if we told you the biggest cover-up operation in America had to do with where we send trash? All over the country, subterranean garbage heaps called landfills are rising, fueled by the 292.4 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) the US produces each year.  According to the EPA, in 2018, almost half of that trash (49.997%) went to landfills around the country. Worse, yearly MSW production has been steadily climbing, year over year since recording first began in the 1960s—and the US has never had a national recycling rate (recovered material + composting) higher than 35%. For many Americans, “out of sight, out of mind” is good enough. But inevitably, major problems will surface. From hazardous waste to running out of space, we may be overwhelmed by the rising cost of landfills this century.

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