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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Recycling Contamination - Who is Responsible?

Overall Goal:  maintain maximum value of recyclable material (i.e. contaminant-free) with the least energy expended (electric, transportation, labor + other)

Who is responsible for creating a clean, efficient recycling system?  The Zero Waste Zone Team is on a mission to determine how ZWZ Participants may take responsibility for their material discards and maintain highest economic value with minimal energy expended in the recycling process.

In the past months, the team visited SP Recycling and Pratt Recycling MRFs (Material Recovery Facilities) to begin the fact finding of the current scenario.  On April 22, the discovery journey continued with a tour of WastePro's MRF, the Atlanta Airport's recycling destination.  View the blog posts, Quest to Understand Single-Stream Recycling Final Destination and Where Oh Where Does Our Recycling Go?, for details on the prior tours.

Adam Glasgow, Roy Edwards &
Scott Seydel @ WastePro MRF Tour
Adam Glasgow, VP of Recycling Services @ WastePro, spent significant time explaining the history of the new MRF, the goals of the operation and the current challenges experienced.  For the first time, glass was not the main culprit in successful MRF operations.  Melted ice (water) from fountain soft drink sales was the main contaminant causing landfill destination for quality recyclable material.

The Sustainable Food Court Initiative will address fountain sales and the ice/water dilemma as pilot projects are launched.  With fountain sales a high-profit margin item for food court restaurants and health regulations regarding liquid collection at recycling bins, the ice/water is staged to be one of the strong challenges in food court operation recovery programs.  

Back to the question:  Who is responsible for creating clean recycling streams?  Ei takes the stand the time is NOW for the consumer, whether corporate or private, to take responsibility for the disposable methods for used items.

Stay tuned as the fact finding mission evolves into solution creation accompanied by educational tools.  The ZWZ Participants are pioneers eager to bring integrity to the final destination of their spent products, whether grease, common recyclables or food residuals.   

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