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WASTE WATCHERS BLOG

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

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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How to Recycle in America

  In the United States, we believe in a magic bin that graciously accepts our best guesses on numbered plastics, grease-soaked cardboard, and Styrofoam tailgate coolers.  Once per week, or sometimes more, that recycling bin on your curb or dumpster in your company’s alleyway is emptied and whisked away, readied for you to fill it with more. However, there’s a common misconception that we as Americans share about recycling: No one said you’re doing it incorrectly, so you must be doing it right. The sad truth is... you’re probably not.

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Why Smarter Recycling is Like a Rewards Program

  What to do when the price of recycling beer bottles rises? For many towns around the country—like Deer Lodge, Montana—the answer isn’t an elegant one: make trash cans larger. For cities like Hollywood, Florida, the response was more carrot than stick. Here, a full recycling bin counts toward your next full beer, and it’s an incentive concept worth examining for businesses interested in curbing costs.

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5 Sustainability Headlines You May Have Missed

In the midst of a variety of news stories, it’s easy to have missed some of the smaller, more positive stories in the sustainability sector. Thankfully, this is where RoadRunner has you covered! In our latest blog post, we’re rounding up some of the latest sustainability news you should know and highlighting helpful takeaways from each article in hopes of inspiring your business to get involved as well!

 

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4 Takeaways from Google’s Approach to a Carbon-Free Future

As a business owner or manager, you likely understand that acting on climate change is critical, but you may also not know where to start or worry that you do not have the time, resources, or influence to take action. To explain how, in this post we summarize Google’s initiative, how the company plans to act on climate change, and key takeaways businesses can use to better integrate climate-oriented action into their everyday practices. Continue reading for more information.

 

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Extended Producer Responsibility and How It Benefits Business

Read our latest blog post to learn more about extended producer responsibility, why it’s good for business, which companies are embracing this principle, and how your company can begin applying this concept to its business practices to garner results.

  Did you know that humans produce a whopping 2.01 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) worldwide, annually? If this sounds like an incomprehensible amount of waste, that’s because it is! But, it doesn’t have to be this way—Thankfully, in recent years, we’ve witnessed many more effective and sustainable methods of disposal come to fruition. Take for example, recycling: If you recycle just one ton of plastic, it saves 5,774 kWh of energy, 16.3 barrels of oil, 98 million BTUs of energy, and 30 cubic yards of landfill space.

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The Plastic Bag Conundrum: A Brief History and Where We Are Now

Dive into the post below to learn more about the history of the plastic bag, measures that are being taken to help eliminate this type of waste, how COVID-19 has impacted plastic bag usage, and tips for saving plastic bags.

 

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How COVID-19 Has Revealed Unsustainable Business Practices

As the world starts to reopen, many companies have been reflecting on the past few months and preparing their plan for what business will look like on the other side of COVID-19. In this blog post, we discuss how COVID-19 has shed light on wasteful business practices, and how companies can use this time to reveal opportunities for adjustment and innovation to create a better, new normal as they return to business!

  As the world starts to reopen, many companies have been reflecting on the past few months and preparing their plan for what business will look like on the other side of COVID-19. No company could have predicted the challenges presented by the virus, but one silver lining to come from this crisis is the ability for organizations to slow down and recognize opportunities to evolve traditional business activities and drive lasting change. For many businesses, the pandemic has brought along its own unforeseen challenges, but has also highlighted areas for adaptation and growth—especially in areas that impact sustainability. In this blog post, we discuss how COVID-19 has shed light on wasteful business practices, and how companies can use this time to reveal opportunities for adjustment and innovation to create a better, new normal as they return to business! Continue reading to learn more.

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