Managing and Transforming Waste Streams — A Tool for Communities

Managing and Transforming Waste Streams – A Tool for Communities, recently launched by U.S. EPA, features a sortable, filterable table of 100 policies and programs that local governments can implement to shift their community’s waste stream away from disposal and towards waste reduction and increased materials reuse, recycling, and composting.

This tool is ideal for cities and counties that are updating their solid waste management plans and wish to consider additional measures, as well as those adopting a zero waste plan or working on sustainability or climate action plans.  By using the sorting and filtering features, planners can generate a list of measures for consideration tailored to their communities’ priorities.  The website also features over 240 examples of policies and programs implemented in communities across the country, along with relevant online resources.

Thinking in circles, cycles and loops

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its annual municipal waste Facts and Figures report last month with a new tag line of “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management.” The new name comes at an interesting time in the world of municipal solid waste management in the U.S.

In short, if America wants to recycle, people will have to pay more. So far, there really has been no discussion about the underlying reality that current practices yield a lot of contamination (aka waste).

I recently spoke at a fundraising event in Barre, Vermont for the Toxics Action Center (TAC). As part of its mission to prevent landfill expansions and associated environmental impacts, TAC advocates for “zero waste” programs. I was asked to address zero waste initiatives, especially in light of Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, which forbids disposal of recycled materials and organics by 2020.

While thinking about how to frame my remarks, it hit me that “zero waste” is equivalent to “100 percent resources.” In other words, every material manufactured or grown can be used or consumed, and then, because what’s left are resources, can be repurposed or reused as is, recycled, digested or composted.

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.

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.

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.

It’s About Time New York Solved Its Trash Problem

Read the full story in CityLab.

On Wednesday, which was also Earth Day, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasioannounced a vision to overhaul the city’s garbage disposal and recycling program as a part of his 10-year “OneNYC” plan. He has two big goals: to reduce commercial waste disposal 90 percent by 2030, and to minimize the waste generated and sent out to far-away landfills. Given the city’s visible garbage problem, this plan is long overdue.

This Year’s Super Bowl Filled 70,000 Plates on the Path to Zero Waste

Via EPA Connect.

This post is a follow-up to my “AZ I See It” column in the Arizona Republic on January 26, 2015.

This year during the Super Bowl, the first “Kick the Waste” campaign took place at Super Bowl Central—the 12-block area in the heart of downtown Phoenix where thousands enjoyed parties and live music in the week leading up to the championship game. The city was host to quite a party on Superbowl Sunday. Fans gathered for good football and good food, whether they joined in the downtown celebrations, tailgated outside the stadium, or ordered from vendors in the stands.

All too often, what’s not consumed goes to waste. Every year Americans throw away more food than any other type of waste — almost 35 million tons — and much of it is still edible. The “Kick the Waste” campaign — a collaboration between the city of Phoenix, nonprofit food rescue organization Waste Not, the National Football League, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, vendors and fans — worked to make sure that any leftover food was shared with those who needed a good meal, and any waste was disposed of in the most beneficial way for the environment.

The results are in from this tremendous effort, and they definitely scored a touchdown:

  • The total amount of edible food donated from the Super Bowl-related events was 69,260 pounds—enough to feed 70,000 people.
  • 73 percent of unused food was diverted through donation, recycling and composting at the Super Bowl festivities.
  • More than 120,000 aluminum beverage containers were recycled from Super Bowl Central. They weighed 3,750 pounds.

The impact doesn’t stop there. This campaign was used to test out ways for Phoenix to collect and process food waste from its residents. The city is learning from it to design a state-of-the-art composting facility at its transfer station for yard waste and food scraps.

San Francisco is already gearing up to host Super Bowl 50 festivities, and it’s got Zero Waste Event requirements already in place. The new Levi’s Stadium is packed with green features – including a green roof, water reclamation and farm-to-table dining. Outside of the Super Bowl, sports teams across the nation are collaborating with us to green the game, and almost 800 sports teams, stadiums, universities, grocery stores and a range of companies and organizations join our Food Recovery Challenge to prevent and reduce wasted food.

Congratulations to this year’s winners, the New England Patriots, and also to Phoenix and all those Super Bowl fans who kicked food waste out of the landfill and into the compost and recycling bins!

Jared Blumenfeld is the U.S. EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest