Ending landfill from factories kickstarts wave of partnerships for Unilever

Read the full story in The Guardian.

When a business like Unilever stops sending waste to landfill from its global factory network, how does it deal with all the stuff that used to be thrown away?

It is a question that faces every large business that is serious about reducing its environmental impact and, while Unilever doesn’t claim to have all the answers, it has made this very clear: you can’t do it alone.

By the end of 2014, Unilever sent no non-hazardous waste to landfill from any of its network of 242 factories and manufacturing sites across 67 countries. This zero waste initiative helped achieve €220m (£159m) of cost savings, and created more than 1,000 jobs. It also opened up opportunities for partnerships, as Unilever looked for new ways to reuse, recycle or recover the materials that were still left over from manufacturing even after substantial efforts to reduce waste at source.

A new interactive Global Collaboration Map, created in a partnership between Unilever and 2degrees, shows Unilever’s global network of factories – all now sending zero waste to landfill.

Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures 2013

The Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures 2013 Report was previously named Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures. The report’s new name emphasizes the importance of sustainable materials management (SMM). SMM refers to the use and reuse of materials in the most productive and sustainable way across their entire life cycle. SMM conserves resources, reduces waste, slows climate change and minimizes the environmental impacts of the materials we use.

New this year is additional information on source reduction (waste prevention) of municipal solid waste (MSW); information on historical tipping fees for MSW; and information on the Construction and Demolition Debris generation, which is outside of the scope of MSW.

The full report, which is released every two years, contains data on:

  1. MSW generation, recovery, and disposal from 1960 to 2013;
  2. Per capita generation and discard rates;
  3. Source reduction (waste prevention);
  4. Materials and products that are in the waste stream;
  5. Aggregate data on the infrastructure for MSW management, including estimates of the number of curbside recycling programs, composting programs, and landfills in the US; and
  6. Trends in MSW management from 1960 to 2013, including source reduction, recycling and composting, and disposal via combustion and landfilling.
  7. Construction and demolition debris generation (starting with Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures 2013)

Reports from previous years are also available.

Phoenix’s Quest to Turn Trash Into Cash

Read the full story in Governing.

As City Manager Ed Zuercher tells it, trash “is in Phoenix’s DNA.” From two guys throwing cans of garbage into the back of a truck to automated side-loading trucks to single-stream recycling, Phoenix, says Zuercher, has always been innovative in solid waste. Now the desert city has plans to take its long-running relationship with waste innovation a step further: It wants to turn trash into a resource.

EPA Announces Hiring of Pollution Prevention Expert Dr. Anahita Williamson will Lead EPA Region 2 Science Division

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 announced that it has selected Rochester Institute of Technology engineer Dr. Anahita Williamson to be the Director of EPA Region 2’s Division of Environmental Science and Assessment in Edison, NJ. Dr. Williamson is currently director of the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In her six years as Director, Dr. Williamson has worked with states and universities to help more than 200 companies reduce waste and make work environments cleaner and safer, at the same time reducing manufacturing costs.

Dr. Williamson will direct EPA Region 2’s 65 employee Division of Environmental Science and Assessment in Edison, NJ as they oversee the collection, analysis and evaluation of environmental data in support of EPA monitoring programs. The Division is home to an EPA Laboratory which provides chemical, biological, microbiological and other laboratory support to regional activities for the analysis of soil, sediment, tissue, wipe, drinking and ambient water, and hazardous waste samples.

The Division of Environmental Science and Assessment also conducts field sampling investigations, analyses and surveys to acquire the necessary environmental data to support EPA’s work. The Division also includes the Region’s Quality Assurance Program, which ensures that data meets stringent quality requirements. In addition, the EPA Regional Citizen Science Program to empower communities to collect quality environmental data is also located in the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment.

“Dr. Williamson is a highly respected engineer who has a strong environmental track record on pollution prevention and other science issues. She has helped scores of businesses reduce the use of toxic chemicals, energy and water,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA is thrilled that she will be joining the EPA staff in a leadership position.”

Dr. Williamson has a strong background and extensive experience in the field of environmental engineering, including manufacturing process modification for improved material recovery and reuse, design for the environment and life-cycle assessment. Prior to joining NYSP2I, she served as a senior engineer at Xerox Corporation where she assisted in implementing companywide sustainability and pollution prevention processes. Williamson led numerous teams at Xerox Corporation in defining environmental opportunities within processes/products by optimizing complex systems.

In 2012, Dr. Williamson was recognized with the EPA’s Environmental Quality Award and in 2013 she won RIT’s Principal Investigator Millionaire Award.

Dr. Williamson also has multiple peer-reviewed publications and has presented at numerous international and national conferences on topics including cleaner production, green engineering, the acceleration of green technologies and sustainable supply chain. Dr. Williamson holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental engineering, all from Clarkson University.

Developing Your Own Waste Reduction Plan

Read the full post from the Iowa Waste Reduction Center.

We often share stories about businesses that are able to become landfill-free, reduce their environmental footprint or improve waste reduction. These efforts have made significant economic and environmental advancements for businesses, large and small but we have never really outlined the steps it takes to get there.

With the difficulties and rising costs of managing waste, businesses are recognizing that reducing waste ends up reducing the need for raw materials, office supplies and even equipment. Another huge benefit is the cost savings from reducing disposal costs. Businesses can achieve greater overall efficiency, a positive public image and save money.

If your business is serious about wanting to reduce its waste, the first step would be to develop a waste reduction plan. Plans can range from simple one-step recycling plans to complex strategies focusing on all aspects of operation. Whether you want to develop a simple or complex plan, here are the basic steps to get started.

The Dark Side of Recycling Lighter Electronics

Read the full post at Waste360.

It seems that every year electronic devices are getting smaller and thinner, yet they pack in more functions and versatility. While this is great for consumers wanting the latest products, it has different consequences for those of us concerned about recycling electronics at their end of life.

New campus recycling bins aim to bring waste awareness

Read the full story in the Daily Illini.

In an effort to make campus more eco-friendly and closer to a zero-waste initiative, 20 new recycling bins with standardized signage were installed on the Quad this month, making 30 total recycling/landfill stations.

The project was completed by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). According to the project’s leader Bart Bartels, technical assistance engineer at ISTC, the center makes recommendations and completes projects aiming to reduce waste emissions on campus.

This zero-waste initiative is part of the goal of the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), the University’s mission to make campus carbon neutral by 2050.