Posts with term zero waste box X

Best anti-snoring solutions that actually work

If you’ve ever shared a bed with someone who snores, you’ll have experienced a certain kind of hell. Safeguard your precious sleep with EarHub's silicone ear plugs which can cut 33 decibels of background noise to nothing. As they're made from plastic, they can be cleaned and reused. Once you're done with them, they can be recycled through a TerraCycle® Zero Waste Box.



Among brands embracing the micro-event trend of 2022 is Subaru, which has reimagined its WinterFest platform as a music and mountain lifestyle adventure tour featuring small, curated and high-touch experiences under the umbrella of its large presence at eight resorts across the country. The platform, which launched in 2014, is returning to the slopes after a two-year hiatus to meet the pent-up consumer demand for outdoor recreation, to maximize the winter experience for brand devotees, and to evoke an “emotional connection” with 25-34-year-old outdoor adventure seekers. At the heart of the tour is a showcase of the Subaru Wilderness Family of vehicles and, in addition to music, the experience includes food and beverages alongside giveaways, gear demos and even special appearances by avalanche rescue dogs. WinterFest kicked off in Killington, VT, at the Killington Mountain Resort, Feb. 11-13, and will wrap in Bend, OR, at Mt. Bachelor, April 14-16.

“WinterFest has always been a way for Subaru to connect to its owners, potential owners and mountain resort visitors. Our goal has always been to make someone’s day at the resort better and to provide a free, memorable experience for whoever wants to come,” says Matt Barber, brand partnerships and experiential marketing manager at Subaru of America. “Before COVID, we started to refine that experience and make it more about a full-scale lifestyle festival that is unique to the resort visitor.”
Subaru WinterFest_2022

Live music was one of the main attractions at Subaru’s WinterFest event in Killington, VT.

Festival attendees can relax in a Subaru WinterFest village offering s’mores and other treats from partnering brands including Alpine Start, Kate’s Real Food and Alpine Start Coffee (served in Klean Kanteen mugs). Tiny houses have long been popular at WinterFest, says Barber, and this year presents a newly-designed rollout featuring two different activation outposts. One is a Subaru WinterFest station where fans can win giveaways and demo winter sport equipment. Subaru owners can visit the area to drop off their skis for a quick, complimentary custom “Wax and Relax” service (using nano technology) by Dynamic Wax. The other outpost offers a Subaru brand experience featuring vehicle audio demos and a timeline of more than 50 years of adventure vehicles culminating with the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness edition. All festival attendees can explore gear demos from Mammut, Nordica, Thule and Arbor Collective while Subaru owners can opt in for the VIP treatment (think: free VIP parking, special gifts and perks including free lift tickets). There is also live music hosted by Subaru audio partner Harman Kardon on the main stage at each resort. Music performances will spotlight national touring bluegrass, indie and Americana bands including Dawes, Twiddle, Trampled by Turtles and The Ghost of Paul Revere. In addition, all Subaru fans can attend satellite shows taking place outdoors on an all-new, fully custom pop-up stage built from a 1999 Subaru Sambar at each of the eight resorts. This year Subaru also rolled out a new COVID-friendly touchless QR code system and sweepstakes platform with brand ambassadors on-site to help attendees navigate the technology. Focused on environmentally friendly habits, Subaru designed WinterFest to be an almost entirely waste-free event with Klean Kanteen, TerraCycle and Leave No Trace offering giveaways that help consumers integrate green practices into their lives. WinterFest’s charitable effort will bring dog-friendly experiences to select WinterFest events. Through a partnership with the National Ski Patrol (NSP), Subaru created a scholarship fund that sends patrols and their avalanche rescue dogs to the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue International Dog School. For every person at the festival who opts-in to a daily drawing this year, $1 will be donated to NSP to train avalanche rescue dogs. “If you build spaces for people to feel comfortable hanging out and spending time in together, the results will speak for themselves,” says Barber. “Your opt-ins, engagement and attendance numbers go up. We started focusing on creating space for people to hang out, be it fire pits with s’mores, or rooftop hangouts on top of our trailers, and then hosting a free concert from a national performing artist along with it. Event marketers can get caught up in the giveaways and swag, and that branding is important, but providing space and an experience to make someone’s day or weekend better, is huge.” Agency: Powdr. Photo credit: Ethan Johnson


CONTENT: COHEN, GAILLARD, 'ZERO WASTE FACE' PHIL LIPOF (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) Yeah, there you go. all right, doctor thanks. Turning now to a growing concern these days. Plastic waste. In many parts of our lives we've made choices to reduce it, using refillable water bottles, switching to paper straws. But, there are still some items that don't, you don't always think about, products flying under, we'll call it, the recycling radar. ABC News Chief Meteorologist, Ginger Zee, joins us now with more on all of that. Ginger, how are you? GRAPHICS: SINCE 1960 THE WASTE IN PLASTIC HAS RAPIDLY INCREASED, THE US IS NUMBER 1 IN PLASTIC WASTE GRAPHICS: MORE THAN 92 BILLION LB. THROWN OUT IN 2016, 2 TIMES CHINA'S NUMBERS, UP TO 80% OF IT WAS SINGLE USE GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) I'm well, thank you. And you know me. My laundry detergent is plastic free. I haven't used a plastic bag or even a paper one at the grocery store in a decade. But, you go in my bathroom or my makeup bag, a lot of it is plastic. Turns out though, it is not as difficult as we think to get closer to what I call a "Zero waste face." Our world is inundated with plastic. Especially in the bathroom. Plastic. Plastic. Plastic. Plastic. Plastic. Since 1960, the use and most importantly the waste in plastic has rapidly increased and well, yeah, it's a global problem, the United States is number one in plastic waste. We threw out more than 92 billion pounds of plastic in 2016 alone, that's almost two-times China's number and up to 80% of it was single use. JULIA COHEN (CO-FOUNDER PLASTIC POLLUTION COALITION) Ninety-nine percent of plastic comes from fossil fuels and I don't think when most people when they're buying a beauty product even think about the packaging. But, a majority of personal care products come in plastic going into the oceans, going into our environment. It's a crisis. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) And anything smaller than a credit card really has a tough time being recycled. All of the caps, the pumps, the tubes, they clog up recycle machines, or a lot of it just isn't recycled in the first place. JULIA COHEN (CO-FOUNDER PLASTIC POLLUTION COALITION) Putting things in the bin makes us feel better, but less than 9 percent of plastic is recycled. we're not going to recycle our way out of this problem. GRAPHICS: 600 TONS SINCE 2001 GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Voiceover) And sure, there are options for plastic that doesn't recycle easily like the company TerraCycle. They've process more than 600 tons of beauty produce waste alone since they started in 2001. But companies like TerraCycle are not as accessible as curbside recycling and it doesn't eliminate the demand for new packaging. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) So, it really is about reducing the amount of plastic we think we need. So, I'm taking my makeup case right here to The Detox Market so that they can help me out and reduce my waste. ROMAIN GAILLARD (FOUNDER THE DETOX MARKET) We started The Detox Market like ten years ago and the idea was that beauty needed to be cleaner and more sustainable. Ten years later, we have a lot of choices. What I have seen changing is first multiplication of the number of companies that also use focus from consumers. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Voiceover) Time for a challenge. The expert of The Detox Market finding ways to slash waste from my makeup routine. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) Traci, please, tell me you have swaps. TRACI BAKER (GENERAL MANAGER THE DETOX MARKET) I definitely have swaps for you. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) Moisturizer. TRACI BAKER (GENERAL MANAGER THE DETOX MARKET) Glass and refillable. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) Okay, eye shadow. TRACI BAKER (GENERAL MANAGER THE DETOX MARKET) This is 100 percent recyclable. This is made out of paper and you just pop the pan out and recycle it when you are done. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) Lip balms. TRACI BAKER (GENERAL MANAGER THE DETOX MARKET) So, I have this super chic refillable case that you can put your lip balm in. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) You do that for lipstick? TRACI BAKER (GENERAL MANAGER THE DETOX MARKET) Yeah, even better, you just take the lipstick and pop it in here. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) There are swaps for hair too, shampoo and conditioner come in bars. And there are some brands that sell refills. And I know what you're thinking when you see all of this cha-ching. TRACI BAKER (GENERAL MANAGER THE DETOX MARKET) The initially cost is going to be a little more, because you are purchasing the cases, but after that it's going to be a lot less money. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Voiceover) Going completely zero waste seems intimidating, I'm sure, but think of it as progress not perfection. ROMAIN GAILLARD (FOUNDER THE DETOX MARKET) It's not about being 100 percent perfect, no one is perfect. I'm not perfect. The Detox Market is not perfect. But, you can slowly make those changes and when you run out of a product, say, "Okay, maybe there's a sustainable version of this," and there is. PHIL LIPOF (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) Yeah, and you shoot for the prefect, I think that's the deal. But, Ginger, it's pretty clear by that our recycling system is flawed. So, please boil it down for us. What's the big takeaway? What can we do to avoid throwing products that ultimately can be recycled? GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) So, "What You Need to Know" is that we vote with our dollar. When you buy something wrapped in plastic, you are supporting fossil fuels and I think that gets missed in a lot of it. So, the plastic waste is horrible. But, remember what you are supporting and then, there's some really easy swaps. And they don't really mean you have to suffer convenience and sometimes they're even cheaper. GRAPHICS: SIMPLE SUSTAINABLE SWAPS GRAPHICS: SWITCH FROM LIQUID TO BAR SOAP GRAPHICS: SEEK OUT RECYCLABLE OR REFILLABLE PACKAGING GRAPHICS: SKIP THE MAKEUP WIPES GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) So, here are a couple of ideas for you. You can switch from liquid soap and shampoo even and conditioner to bars and they work, like the formulas work really well. That almost has no packaging. Secondly, look for recyclable, refillable packaging and then if it has to be a package, Doctor Jen you were asking this, glass is better? Absolutely, glass recycles so easy. Aluminum recycles, so think about that and paper of course. And then finally, my favorite, skip the wipes. Why do we use these plastic wipes. It's like getting rid of cigarettes, like you buy a pack a month $5 to $10. That money goes back in your pocket. PHIL LIPOF (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) Yeah. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) You use the reusable round rounds or a washcloth. DOCTOR JENNIFER ASHTON (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) What? GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) I know. But, but, these are the things we have gotten into the habit of doing. DOCTOR JENNIFER ASHTON (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) Yeah. PHIL LIPOF (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) Yeah. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) And it's just a little reset of the brain, you know, we're not going back to Laura Ingalls Wilder, necessarily. But, some of that stuff worked for a reason DOCTOR JENNIFER ASHTON (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) This is amazing. Bar soap for me. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) You got it. Bar shampoo. Let's go. PHIL LIPOF (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) And, and really start, start in one place and then venture out. GINGER ZEE (ABC NEWS) (Off-camera) Yeah. It's fun and, and wait until you see what you can make as an impact just in your life. Think of how many mascara tubes you have used, I mean, that of that alone.

The Status of COVID-19 and Plastic Waste in Los Angeles and What is Needed to Move Towards a Circular Plastic Economy

July 1, 2021
Though single-use plastics have been arguably necessary to combat the pandemic, it is important that hard-won progress toward a circular plastics economy is not reversed. By Carli Schoenleber and Farah Lavassani Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly shifted plastic consumption and waste management practices (see Figure 1). Despite political and cultural movement away from single-use plastics in the past decade, products needed to fight COVID-19 (e.g., masks, gloves, gowns, testing kits) and adapt to life at home (e.g., takeout containers, delivery packaging) likely resulted in a higher proportion of single-use plastics in the waste stream. Consequently, many are concerned the pandemic accelerated negative environmental impacts from plastic waste.1 It is currently unclear to what extent COVID-19 impacted plastic waste generation in the U.S. Several sources suggest the pandemic increased plastic demand, particularly for single-use plastics.10, 11, 12
It has been estimated that the U.S. created an entire year’s worth of medical waste in just two months of the pandemic,13 primarily due to greater use of disposable plastic gloves, masks, and gowns.12 Moreover, many believe single-use plastic consumption has been elevated due to heightened hygiene concerns and increased demand for household products, online orders and takeout dining.11, 14 Because of mandated stay at home orders and work from home policies, there is at least evidence that residential solid waste increased in many areas throughout the U.S., though it is still unclear how much waste has been comprised of plastic. SWANA observed a 20 percent increase in residential waste at the start of the pandemic15 and a 5 to 10 percent increase by December, 2020.16 Likewise, residential solid waste in Los Angeles (LA) increased by 15 to 20 percent.17 However, because COVID-19 shut down many commercial sectors and caused widespread unemployment, it is unclear how overall waste generation, and by extension plastic consumption, was impacted in the U.S.18 In LA, the Los Angeles Times reported commercial waste had decreased by 15 percent.17 Nonetheless, a change in the amount and type of plastic pollution was observed, suggesting an increase in single-use plastic use.
Some of these changes can likely be attributed to the suspension of laws aimed at plastic waste reduction, namely single-use plastic bag bans (see Figure 2). Given evidence that reusable bags are rarely washed and COVID-19 can survive on surfaces,21 elected officials were initially urged to suspend or delay the implementation of plastic bag ban policies to reduce transmission risk to retail and grocery workers. The Plastics Industry Association capitalized on this moment in a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reinstating arguments that reusable bags present a high risk of disease spread and framing single-use plastics as the safest choice.22 Throughout states and municipalities, approximately 46 plastic bag bans were delayed or temporarily suspended and 15 policies banning reusable bags were implemented (see Figure 3); as of February, 2021, about half of these plastic bag bans were still delayed or suspended and all 15 reusable bag bans had been lifted.23 California was among the many states that temporarily suspended its single-use plastic bag ban in April 2020, though the policy was reinstated by June 2020.24 Californians Against Waste reported that during this suspension, an estimated 1 billion single-use plastic bags were distributed throughout the state in May and April alone.25 image.png
Plastic Waste Management Nearly 150 recycling programs in the U.S. were temporarily suspended and many were cut altogether due to COVID-19.26, 27 In California, operations at several Waste Management-run Material Recovery Facilities (MRF), including the Claremont MRF in LA County, were temporarily suspended following the California stay at home order.28 Alex Helou, the City of LA Sanitation Assistant Director, reported to the Los Angeles Times in December 2020 that only five of 17 LA recyclable collection facilities had been fully operating throughout the pandemic, challenging the sorting capacity for the recycling centers that remained open.17 Consequently, thousands of tons of recycled materials were directly sent to landfills, particularly at the onset of the pandemic; in May 2020, Helou reported to KCRW that 50 to 70 percent of trucks carrying recycled materials were going directly to the landfill.29 Along with concerns of virus transmission among recycling center workers, reduced plastic recycling rates can largely be attributed to the drop in oil prices triggered by the pandemic, resulting in the lowest virgin plastic (i.e., produced from raw fossil fuels) prices seen in decades. As production costs dropped for virgin plastic, producing recycled plastic became even more expensive, with recycled plastic bottles costing 83 to 93 percent more to produce than virgin plastic bottles.4 In the same KCRW article cited previously, Alex Helou noted that the price of processing recycled materials in LA had roughly doubled from $70/ton to $150/ton.29 With greater economic incentive to use virgin plastic, demand for recycled plastic plummeted worldwide, even for the most recycled categories of reclaimed plastic (i.e., PET(#1) and HDPE(#2)).15 For example, several recycled plastic film manufacturers reported a significant decrease in demand following California’s temporary suspension of its single-use plastic bag ban, which also suspended requirements for plastic bag manufacturers to use 40 percent recycled plastic film.30 Yet, recycling companies in the U.S. and California had already been struggling since 2018 when China and other Asian countries widely stopped buying U.S. plastic waste. Between 2017 and 2019, U.S. plastic exports decreased by about half, from 750,000 tons to 375,000 tons.31 A 2019 report from Consumer Watchdog found 40 percent of California’s recycling centers had permanently closed since 2013.34 For years before the pandemic, it was simply cheaper to dump most plastic waste in a landfill instead of recycling it. Mitigating Plastic Waste During and After COVID-19 Replacing Single-Use Plastics with Reusables With fewer people occupying offices, restaurants and other commercial establishments due to COVID-19, an opportunity is presented to business owners and sustainability managers to implement simple but effective plastic waste reduction practices (see Figure 4). Though recycling has historically been the primary approach to sustainably manage plastics, businesses actually have the most to gain financially and environmentally by preventing plastic waste from being used in the first place (see Figure 4).38
With this in mind, it is unsurprising that UCLA’s 2020 “Plastic Waste in LA County” report found that replacing single-use plastic food items with reusable items had “the greatest potential to reduce the negative impacts associated with plastic waste in LA County.” Furthermore, compared to bioplastic/compostable alternatives or by-request single-use disposables, reusable alternatives to food-related single-use plastics offered the greatest opportunity for operational cost savings. By investing in reusable items (e.g., dishes, utensils, coffee cups) and the infrastructure to clean them (e.g., dishwasher), available evidence suggests that businesses will break even in the first year and subsequently save thousands of dollars per year via reduced waste processing, litter clean-up and disposable item costs. As dishwashers become more energy and water efficient and the energy grid is decarbonized, the lifetime impacts of reusables will be continually reduced over time compared to single-use disposables.33 TRUE Zero Waste Certification To reduce plastic waste unrelated to food, business owners and facility managers would also benefit from the structure and guidance offered through the TRUE program for zero waste certification. Similar to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification, TRUE offers a blueprint to increase circularity in facilities, with the ultimate goal of diverting at least 90 percent of solid waste from landfills, incineration and the environment. The program provides expert guidance to divert waste via four main avenues: reduction, reuse, composting and recycling. When systematically implemented throughout upstream supply chains and downstream waste management practices, the TRUE system reduces negative environmental impacts of waste while cutting operational costs and supporting new zero-waste markets. In addition to reusable food serviceware infrastructure, TRUE offers several strategies to reduce plastic waste generation. For example, facilities can achieve several credits within the TRUE zero waste rating system by working with vendors to reduce upstream waste. Some strategies include reducing unnecessary single- use packaging, increasing the recyclability of packaging, sending unused packaging back to vendors for reuse, and selecting vendors that embrace zero-waste or low-plastic principles.39 Education and Awareness With evidence showing public education campaigns can reduce plastic pollution40 and increase recycling rates,41 similar campaigns should be used to dispel myths around COVID-19 and single-use plastics. Based on our review of how COVID-19 shifted plastic consumption and management above, we recommend campaigns focus on two false beliefs: 1) single-use plastics are safer than reusable alternatives and 2) all plastics accepted in our recycling bins actually get recycled. Are Single-Use Plastics Safer than Reusables? Because many single-use plastic bag laws were suspended or delayed for COVID-19 related safety reasons, it is important to provide awareness on the safety of reusable items. In the case of suspending single-use plastic bag bans, health experts were quick to point out there was no evidence that single-use plastic bags were less likely to spread COVID-19 than reusable alternatives.21 In fact, a 2020 study concluded reusable grocery bags presented a very small risk of COVID-19 transmission compared to human-to-human contact via respiratory droplets.42 Moreover, more than 125 health experts around the world signed a statement in June 2020 that reusable items can be similarly hygienic if they are washed and/or disinfected before use.43 Neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have indicated reusable items present any public health risks when it comes to mitigating COVID-19.44 Furthermore, some experts have questioned the underlying assumption that single-use plastic bags are reliably sanitary. Dr. Kate O’Neil at the University of California Berkeley maintained that in comparison to sterile gloves and masks used in a doctor’s office, single-use plastic bags are not held to the same hygienic standards and thus cannot be assumed to be sterile.45 Before the pandemic, California was headed in the right direction by enacting AB 619 in 2019, a law that now requires restaurants to allow customer use of clean reusable cups and containers.46
Do All Recyclable Plastics Get Recycled? Another belief that should be targeted is the false perception that plastic placed in a blue bin will actually get recycled. In reality, the amount of plastic recycled is not just dependent on what can technically be recycled but rather on demand for recycled plastic materials and local availability of recycling technology. Despite the fact that most plastics are recyclable, many MRFs will not recover and recycle single-use plastic products due to difficulty in sorting and the high likelihood of food residue contamination.33 As noted previously, only 8 percent of plastics in the U.S. get recycled. Likewise, in LA County, only PET(#1) and HDPE(#2) plastics are commonly recycled (e.g., milk jugs, detergent bottles and drink bottles) and plastic resin types 3, 4, 6, and 7 (e.g., medicine bottles, yogurt cups, plastic bags), along with all single-use plastic foodware, are likely to head straight for a landfill.33 Part of the publics’ confusion around plastic recycling has been attributed to plastic resin codes (e.g., #1=PET) stamped on most plastic items, which also includes the three arrow recycling symbol. According to 2020 reporting from National Public Radio, the plastic industry began lobbying to put this misleading symbol on plastic items in 1989, allegedly to subdue public concern around the environmental impacts of plastic. Unsurprisingly, once this symbol became standard, consumers began throwing plastic items in their blue bins that local recyclers could not actually sell or reclaim.47 To combat this misconception, recyclers and municipalities should work together to educate consumers on what resin codes actually translate to recyclability in their local area. In theory, if the public is aware plastic recyclability does not necessarily translate to plastic recycling, people may be more apt to reduce consumption of single-use plastics and adopt reuse practices (see Figure 5). image.png
Reducing and Recycling Disposable PPE It will also be important in the short term to minimize the negative impact of disposable PPE (e.g., masks, gloves) as these materials are difficult to recycle and negatively impact the environment.48,49 In addition to harming marine ecosystems when littered, a study from the University College London estimated disposable masks have 10 times the climate change impact than reusable cloth masks.50 Given multi-layered cloth masks have been recommended by the CDC to prevent community spread of COVID-19,51 encouraging the public to replace disposable masks with reusable cloth masks is a sound option to both mitigate plastic waste and slow the spread of COVID-19.
For disposable, PPE that is unavoidable and not used in a medical setting, the environmental impact of PPE can be reduced by recycling it through programs like Terracycle and Rightcycle. Recognizing PPE cannot be recycled through most public services, Terracycle offers a mail-in Zero Waste Box that makes it easy for facilities to recycle single-use PPE such as masks, gloves and safety glasses.52 Similarly, non-medical facilities that use Kimberly-Clark PPE can use the RightCycle program to mail back used plastic gloves, glasses and protective clothing, which are then recycled into plastic pellets and used to manufacture new consumer goods. The RightCycle program has been successfully implemented in facilities such as breweries, zoos and science laboratories.53 Policy Mechanisms Much like other environmental crises, government interventions will likely be necessary to fully shift to a circular plastics economy.2 Prominent policy ideas include taxing virgin plastic, subsidizing recycled plastic and investing in recycling technology. Taxing virgin plastics or difficult to recycle plastics is a commonly cited strategy to target single-use plastics.56, 57, 58 Currently, the price of virgin plastic does not reflect the true cost of plastics’ negative impacts on the environment and society (e.g., harm to marine ecosystems, GHG emissions, litter clean-up), thus taxation could help raise funds to mitigate these impacts. Taxation also has the potential to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging in manufacturing, drive demand for recycled plastic, and encourage innovation in recycling technologies.59,60 Similarly, landfill tipping fees could be increased to make recycling a more economic choice.61 As there is a lack of applied research on positive or negative consequences of plastic taxes, care should be taken to ensure taxes would not increase consumer good prices for low-income communities; a plastic tax dividend returned to taxpayers may help mitigate this issue.56 On the other hand, subsidies or tax breaks could help make recycled plastic less expensive to produce and thus more economically competitive with virgin plastic. Beyond subsidizing recycled plastic and easily recycled plastics, subsidies could also be directed towards efficient recycling facilities, thereby incentivizing innovation towards more effective sorting technology.62 Emerging technologies (e.g., machine learning, chemical recycling) exist, but further investments are needed to scale up recycling of mixed plastics beyond PET (#1) and HDPE (#2)63 as well as compostable bio-based plastics that currently lack adequate industrial composting infrastructure to bring to scale.64
State and Local Plastic Policies Unfortunately, the California Circular Economy Pollution Reduction Act (Senate Bill 54) was rejected by California lawmakers in 2020. This policy aimed to drastically reduce single-use plastic waste by requiring all food- and packaging-related single-use waste to be recyclable or compostable by 2032, aiming for a 75 percent reduction in waste from single-use products. If passed, it would have been the strictest single-use plastic law in the U.S., but there is some hope it will be reconsidered in 2021.65 On the bright side, California lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 793 in 2020, which requires all plastic bottles to contain at least 15 percent recycled plastic by 2022, 25 percent by 2025, and 50 percent by 2030, and allocates funding for recycling infrastructure.66 Moreover, since Assembly Bill 1884 was enacted in 2018, food vendors throughout California have only been allowed to distribute plastic straws upon request.67 Locally, LA County similarly approved a plastic straw and stirrer ordinance following AB 1884.68 In 2019, the City of Santa Monica implemented a Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance, that prohibits all non-marine-degradable food service ware, including all types of plastic.69 Lastly, LA County indicated they were in the process of creating a policy to target food-related single-use plastic waste immediately before the pandemic, however, as of February 2021, no details on such a policy have been released.70 Investing in Infrastructure Because comprehensive waste data throughout the pandemic has yet to be released, it is still unclear as to what extent the pandemic impacted overall waste and plastic waste generation in the U.S. and LA. As it stands, it appears the pandemic increased use of single-use plastics due to heightened demand for PPE, takeout dining, online orders and household products. Data is similarly decentralized when it comes to plastic waste management, but available evidence suggests the pandemic further hampered the recycling industry’s ability to reclaim plastic waste, largely due to the drop in oil prices that shifted demand away from recycled plastic towards virgin plastics. To both reduce the use of single-use plastics and increase plasticrecycling rates during and after the pandemic, we recommend that leaders invest in infrastructure to support reuse practices in commercial buildings to reduce use of food-related single-use plastics, the most impactful plastic waste category in LA County. The TRUE zero waste rating system may be particularly useful for facilities to streamline more sustainable plastic waste management systems. Other solutions include dispelling public misinformation around the safety of reusables, decreasing the use of disposable masks, and increasing recycling rates for PPE.
Though single-use plastics have been arguably necessary to combat the pandemic, it is important that hard-won progress toward a circular plastics economy is not reversed. From GHG heavy plastic production processes to the profound impact of plastic waste on our oceans, with or without a pandemic, it is critical that our society move away from the mainstream linear plastic economy and its associated negative environmental and economic impacts. | WA Carli Schoenleber, USGBC-LA, is a Los Angeles based freelance writer with 10 years of experience in sustainability and environmental science. She holds a M.S. degree in Forest Ecosystems and Society from Oregon State University with a research focus on conservation psychology. Specializing in a range of complex sustainability topics, she is currently writing a sustainable real estate textbook series for the Verdani Institute for the Built Environment. Farah Lavassani serves as the Marketing Manager of the U.S. Green Building Council, Los Angeles. After studying Social Work with an emphasis on both Childhood Development and Urban Planning, Farah pursued higher education in environmental sciences with a focus on marketing. With more than five years of experience in non-profits, forming her own organic clothing line, and managing a sustainability lifestyle blog, she is proud to bring her dual experience with advocacy and marketing skills to USGBC-LA. Farah is a LEED Green Associate, ENV SP, and Living Future Ambassador with primary interests in forming sustainable infrastructure for our communities and optimizing sustainable strategy + programs for the professional world. For more information, contact Ben Stapleton, Executive Director, USGBC-LA, at Ben@usgbc-la.org. This excerpt is part of the white paper of the same name, which appears in whole on the U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles Chapter’s website: https://usgbc-la.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/USGBC-LA-Whitepaper-Series_-Covid-19-Single-Use-Plastics-1.pdf


A private corporation provides a scalable recycling solution for common laboratory plastics

The scale and rapid pace of biomedical research being conducted today is built upon single-use plastics that are critical for all aspects of research including sample collection, processing, and storage. Since the introduction of plastic centrifuge tubes, conical tubes, chemical packaging, etc. (the list seemingly goes on forever), scientists have re-directed their limited and precious time from sterilization of reusable laboratory materials to collecting more samples and performing more experiments. Indeed, many laboratory plastics do come in contact with hazardous waste and therefore, need to be disposed of properly. However, what happens to plastics that contact non-hazardous chemical solutions? Plastics often contain a resin identification code that identifies what type of resin was used to make the product. This code can be used to facilitate the proper recycling of each plastic item. Many laboratory plastics are not conventionally recycled. This may be why centrifuge tubes and most conical tubes are not labeled with a resin identification code. This represents a technical hurdle but that does not mean that laboratory plastics are impossible to recycle. As a research community, we toss unimaginable amounts of these plastic products into the waste bin each year – partially because there are not enough local waste diversion opportunities. A 2015 Nature correspondence from the University of Exeter estimated that research labs contribute 5.5 million tons of plastic to waste streams each year, equal to 1.7% of the total global plastic production (Urbina, Watts, & Reardon, 2015). In response to this issue, TerraCycle, named a 100 Fastest-Growing Inner City Businesses by Fortune and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential Companies, has launched their Centrifuge Tubes & Rigid Lab Plastics Zero Waste Box. Please enjoy an interview with Alex Payne, a publicist at TerraCycle, who shared the behind-the-scenes details that led to the product launch, how to properly use the box and TerraCycle’s ambitious plans for reducing laboratory waste in the future. Check out the box here!

Interview with Alex Payne, TerraCycle Publicist

How was the idea of the Centrifuge Tubes & Rigid Lab Plastics Zero Waste Box conceptualized at TerraCycle? This was a mix of consumer demand but also an internal idea. We had customers asking if they could recycle their clean lab plastics and we were referring them to our Plastic Packaging Box but realized that naming a box specifically for rigid plastics would be beneficial and more intuitive for customers shopping our site.  What materials are accepted in this Zero Waste Box? How did TerraCycle decide on these accepted materials vs. other laboratory plastics? Was there an orientation towards plastics that are notoriously difficult to recycle and/or wasteful to landfill? The Centrifuge Tubes & Rigid Lab Plastics Zero Waste Box accepts any brand and type of clean and non-hazardous rigid lab plastics including centrifuge tubes, plastic bottles, trays, vials, and beakers. As with many of TerraCycle’s solutions, the Centrifuge Tubes & Rigid Lab Plastics Zero Waste Box was created to provide collectors with a convenient, turn-key answer to hard-to-recycle plastics that are otherwise not recycled throughout the United States. Can the tubes and rigid lab plastics be refashioned into new products for research scientists?  Typically, not.  We are not recycling these materials into high quality food grade feedstocks, which would be needed for new manufacturing into products for lab settings.  We typically process these materials into a format suitable for compression molded applications that are more forgiving, like plastic shipping pallets, outdoor furniture, etc. How exactly are the accepted materials recycled?  The rigid lab plastics collected through the Centrifuge Tubes & Rigid Lab Plastics Zero Waste Box are separated by resin code or material type, melted down, and turned into pellets that can be molded and extruded to produce new products. Is TerraCycle able to offer this recycling program on an institution/campus-wide scale?  Yes.  Will this program be available as a pallet in the future?  Yes.  How does TerraCycle deal with the possible contamination of these materials at its recycling facility? Any item or material that TerraCycle can recycle but should not be collected in the box (i.e. a nitrile glove in the Centrifuge Tubes & Rigid Lab Plastics box) is considered contamination. When this occurs, the item will be removed and recycled appropriately and TerraCycle will notify the customer and remind them to only include the accepted materials described for that box. Non-compliant items (materials that TerraCycle does not accept at all) are removed if possible and disposed of appropriately. In these instances, TerraCycle will also notify the customer.   What are TerraCycle’s long-term goals for eliminating waste in the scientific research field? TerraCycle’s overarching goal has always been to eliminate the idea of waste and that means providing solutions across every waste-producing industry – including laboratories and research organizations that produce millions of nonhazardous lab disposables every year. While waste streams like personal protective equipment and lab gear are not visible to the general public, they are essential since they allow scientific research to be conducted safely and efficiently. TerraCycle supports the collection and recycling of these indispensable but unsung waste heroes in order to keep as much of the material out of landfills and in-use. Urbina, M. A., Watts, A. J. R., & Reardon, E. E. (2015). Labs should cut plastic waste too. Nature, 528(7583), 479-479. doi:10.1038/528479c

Popper fidget toys are the latest 2021 children's craze but how environmentally friendly are they?

A spokesman for innovative recycling organisation TerraCycle explained: "Where it becomes more complicated is when a waste item is made out of a complex material, or several materials, as is the case with most toys. The process of recycling these materials is complicated and costly and the end product is worth less than the cost of recycling the waste, so the economics simply do not work."

Pandemic mask mountain sets new recycling challenge

Isabel Malsang with Eleonore Sens in Trenton, New Jersey, and Andrew Leeson in Sydney

Wed, 19 May 2021, 1:20 am·3-min read


Researchers in Australia want to transform single-use Covid masks into road material. In the United States, the protective gear is recycled into benches. And in France, they are reborn as floor carpets for cars. Used to curb the spread of Covid-19, masks are exacerbating another pandemic: plastic pollution. Around 129 billion disposable masks are used every month around the world, according to the American Chemical Society. Made out of polypropylene plastic material, elastic and metal, used masks are usually thrown out in garbage bins, destined for landfills, or incinerated. They are also littering streets, rivers and oceans, harming wildlife. But researchers and companies are looking for ways to put masks to good use, though it is not a very profitable venture at the moment. - Garden chairs - In Britain, several hospitals have acquired a compactor made by Cardiff-based Thermal Compaction Group which melts protective gowns and surgical masks into blue slabs. The material is then used to make garden chairs or tables. In France, Tri-o et Greenwishes, a recycling company, picks up masks tossed in special bins used by some 30 customers, including Parisian hospitals, TV network TF1 and building materials giant Saint-Gobain. "We had a lot of demand from our clients" to offer mask recycling services, said company president Matthieu de Chanaleilles. The company charges fees starting at 250 euros ($300) per month to collect the trash. At its recycling plant, staff wearing protective gear stand behind plexiglass to sort through paper tissues, gloves and cups that are thrown in mask bins by accident. Afterwards, the workers are sprayed down with disinfectant. The sorting area is sterilized with ultraviolet lamps. Masks are kept in quarantine for a week before being handled. Two companies based in northern France then shred the masks, disinfect them and extract the polypropylene, which is transformed into pebbles that are used to make floor carpets or other plastic parts in a car. Tri-o et Greenwishes has recycled one tonne of masks so far and hopes to have processed 20 tonnes by the end of the year. It's a drop in the ocean of masks. Some 40,000 tonnes of masks were binned in France last year, without a recycling option, according to a January parliamentary report. - Long road - Making the venture profitable is a challenge. In Trenton, New Jersey, TerraCycle sells a "zero waste box" for disposable masks for $88. The masks are then sent to partner facilities to be recycled into plastic granules that are sold to manufacturers that make other products such as benches, flooring surfaces or shipping pallets. TerraCycle chief executive Tom Szaky said recycling personal protective equipment is costlier than aluminium. "Why is, say for example, a dirty diaper, or PPE not recyclable? It's because it costs much more to collect and process and the results are worse. So no one would bother doing it because there's no money to be made," Szaky told AFP. "So Terracycle's business says 'Well, if someone's willing to pay those actual costs, then we can perform such a service'," he said. In Australia, researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology are experimenting with other solutions after being inspired by the sight of masks littering the streets. Once disinfected and shredded, masks can be mixed with processed building rubble to create a flexible and robust material to help build roads, according to the scientists. The researchers are now investigating their use in construction cement. Three million masks are need to make one kilometre (half a mile) of road. "The facemask have a good tensile strength; they can provide tensile strength to the concrete, which is very important," Mohammad Saberian, a post-doctoral research fellow at RMIT University, told AFP. "We're currently looking for partners to use the face masks in real-world applications and to make kind of a pilot road," Saberian said. Since publishing the research earlier this year, several industries have expressed interest, and the team was now applying for funding to further investigate the findings, which could take one to two years, he said. im-ode-bur/ico/lth/tgb

This Program Recycles The Hard-To-Recycle

By Kate Lawless | Photo credit: Image courtesy TerraCycle Spring cleaning is on our minds, and it’s important to think about what we’re throwing away — but also how we can make more sustainable choices going forward. Luckily, there are alternatives to just tossing items that are better for the environment, and TerraCycle is one such program revolutionizing recycling. TerraCycle is a social enterprise company that offers free recycling programs “funded by brands, manufacturers and retailers around the world to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste.” The company accepts items that typically, a city’s recycling program may not take. Here in the Madison area, TerraCycle partners with well-known brands such as Colgate, Aussie, Gillette and Josie Maran, to recycle items like razors and cosmetics and turn them into new products. Guided by the company’s belief that you can recycle almost anything, TerraCycle has won many awards for its personalized and partnership-focused recycling programs, including being selected as a 2021 “Top Impact Company” alongside trailblazing companies like Patagonia and Tesla. There are a few ways consumers can try out TerraCycle:
  • Peruse TerraCycle’s website to see which brands have partnerships with the company. From BIC pens to Brita water filters, you can find a wide array of products that TerraCycle is able to accept. Choose a personalized box from that brand that will ship right to your house. Then, fill up the box with used products from that brand, and ship it back to be recycled — free of cost to you. Interestingly, you can even recycle certain personal protective equipment and disposable face masks.
  • TerraCycle already has public drop-off locations in schools and libraries in Monona and certain healthcare providers in Madison. Checking their website can help you find the closest public drop-off location to you.
  • You can also order their Zero Waste Boxes for your home, school or workplace to start your community’s own recycling initiative, according to what brands and products you most regularly use.
Besides reducing waste, TerraCycle’s programs also allow consumers to earn points for each pound they recycle. Each pound is worth 100 points and each point is worth 1 cent. You can then donate that money to a school or nonprofit organization of your choice. terracycle.com/en-US/