May 2019

Promoting sustainable recycling in the Southeast by connecting local supply and regional demand of recovered material.
Monthly News & Updates in the Southeast
Upcoming Events

 May 14-16, 2019: MS “Magnolia” Chapter of SWANA Spring Conference- Bay St. Louis, MS

May 15-17, 2019: Environmental Show of the South- Chattanooga, TN*

June 17-19, 2019: Recycling Florida Today Annual Conference- Bonita Springs, FL*

July 24-26, 2019: Alabama Recycling Association Annual conference- Auburn, AL*

*SERDC attending

August 14-16, 2019: Tennessee Recycling Coalition Annual Conference- Gatlinburg, TN*
August 26-28, 2019: Resource Recycling Annual Conference- New Orleans, LA*

August 28-30, 2019: SWANA Quad State Conference (VA, NC, SC & TN)- Asheville, NC

SERDC News & Announcements
The Media Pivots Away From ‘Recycling is Dying’ Message
Posted April 5, 2019 on

After months of articles and broadcasts telling Americans that recycling is dying, that the recycling fad is passing, a new message is emerging. Recycling is not dying although it has been severely challenged by both China’s import restrictions and a pervasive single stream system that is no longer sustainable.

The Recycling Partnership, comprised of leading national brand name companies is reassuring the country that recycling is here to stay in its Earth Day messaging:

"Many of the opponents of recycling like to focus solely on the economics of collection and sortation. In doing this, they fail to account for the environmental and societal benefits of recycling that are crucial to our planet’s survival."

A CityLab article concludes: In any case, there are strategies that local programs can use, either separately or in combination, to find their way back to health and continue recycling waste. China’s policy change may not represent the much-feared “end of recycling” in the U.S. so much as an inflection point.

Will Sagar, executive director of the Southeast Recycling Development Council, issued the following corrective statement declaring, “Recycling is troubled, but not dead”.

Improve your Community Recycling Infrastructure with up to $250,000 from SERDC
Grant funding is available to communities in the Southeast region covered by SERDC for recycling infrastructure. Increasing the quality and amount of materials collected in a sustainable way is crucial for processors of the collected material and will lead to growth to the growth of demand for use in manufacturing.

 The first round of funds available is $250,000 and applications will be evaluated after the closing deadline of May 24. Let us know if you plan to apply and please forward this announcement to any potential applicants.

Download RFP (pdf)
From SERDC Members

WestRock receives SPC Innovator Award
Posted April 17, 2019 on

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), Charlottesville, Virginia, honored WestRock Co., Atlanta, with its Innovator Award for the company’s work in improving the recyclability of food service packaging.

Each year, the SPC, a member-based organization that believes in the power of industry to make packaging more sustainable, recognizes advancements toward more sustainable packaging through its SPC Innovator Awards.

WestRock’s efforts to increase the recyclability of food service packaging include proving that there would be no disruption to the company’s operations with the addition of poly-coated food service packaging, the company says. The company currently accepts food service packaging at its 100 percent recycled paperboard mills in the United States.

WestRock has also developed a recyclable and compostable paperboard cup prototype designed to hold hot and cold beverages under a variety of conditions. The prototype was recently named one of 12 winners of the NextGen Cup Challenge.

“A large portion of paper-based food service packages are discarded in the U.S. each year, as historically, this packaging has not been widely accepted in recycling programs,” states Patrick Lindner, president of WestRock’s consumer packaging business. “WestRock’s acceptance of food service packaging at its mills, as well as our research and development work on new, more recyclable and compostable packaging designs exemplifies our commitment to finding ways to make packaging more sustainable.”

WestRock is a Gold Sponsor member of SERDC.
Trex talks collection and profitability
Posted May 4, 2019 on

In an April 22 announcement, the company said 32,000 retailers provided Trex with more than 130 million pounds of plastic last year. Overall, the company uses over 500 million pounds of recovered plastic and wood each year in its products.

With an eye toward growth, Trex announced a new name for its collection program: NexTrex.

“With a fresh new name, the company is formally branding the program in an effort to elevate awareness and further expand its reach by engaging even more retailers and collection sites,” according to a press release.

Trex is a Business member of SERDC
The Recycling Partnership and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, with Love Beauty and Planet, Help Expand Curbside Recycling Collection in Nashville
Posted April 4, 2019 on

A combined $2.8 million grant from The Recycling Partnership and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) with special support from beauty brand Love Beauty and Planet will more than double the frequency of recycling collection in Nashville and Davidson County, from once a month to every other week.

The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (Metro Nashville) will use the multi-million-dollar grant to buy 16 collection vehicles and provide 8,000 additional recycling carts to households, allowing them to access curbside recycling services. The Recycling Partnership will also provide funding and expert technical assistance to Metro Nashville to implement a jurisdiction-wide education and outreach campaign to support its curbside recycling program.“We have a high quality of life here in Nashville, but it’s my job to always work to improve it,” said Mayor Briley. “By upping recycling collection and enhancing our education campaign around it, we can continue to make our city greener and more sustainable. I am grateful for these grants and our partners in this effort. I know it will go a long way towards making our city an even more beautiful place.”

The recycling improvement program will affect more than 139,000 Metro Nashville households and is expected to be fully implemented by early 2020.

“TDEC is pleased to be able to offer this funding to Nashville to support its waste reduction goals,” said Greg Young, TDEC deputy commissioner. “This will impact a large amount of Tennesseans and, ultimately, the broader region as we look to support reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills across the state.”

The Recycling Partnership is a Bronze Sponsor member of SERDC.
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is a Government member of SERDC.
AF&PA reports paper recycling rate reaches 68.1 percent
Posted May 9, 2019 on

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), Washington, announced that 68.1 percent of paper consumed in the United States was recovered for recycling in 2018. The recovered paper market rebounded after China’s import restrictions on recovered products caused the rate to dip in 2017. 

As part of its Better Practices, Better Planet 2020 sustainability initiative, the AF&PA along with the industry aim to exceed 70 percent paper recovery for recycling by 2020. More U.S. paper recovery for recycling rate statistics are available online at

American Forest and Paper Association is a Business member of SERDC
Around the Southeast
Community Spotlight-Greensboro, NC: Customer interaction bolsters program performance
Posted May 6, 2019 on

Bucking the usual trend of recycling programs evolving from dual- to single-stream service over the years, the city of Greensboro, N.C. has run a cart-based single-stream program since day one, all the way back in 1992.

“We’re actually the oldest single-stream recycling program on the East Coast,” said Tori Carle, waste reduction supervisor for the city of Greensboro.

That means the city has had nearly three decades of commingled recycling experience. And over the years, the recycling department has learned the importance of outreach and communication with residential recycling customers – so much so that the city last summer launched an expansive communication and cart-tagging campaign to spread the word on maximizing the stream’s cleanliness.

What recycling end market development looks like in 2019

What was once a public sector-driven effort has more private interest. Now, industry professionals say, there are more players on the field and they're better at working together.
Posted May 8, 2019 on

Last fall, the EPA held what was described as its first Recycling Summit, intended to bring together government and private sector leaders to strengthen the U.S. recycling industry. That event, and a pledge signed by participants, outlined four key action areas – one of which is "strengthening secondary materials markets."

In the months since then, as some people have focused on the recycling industry’s negative fallout from China's changes, others have been touting the progress on growing domestic end markets – especially in the paper and plastics sectors.

Betsy Dorn, principal at Circular Matters, was a recycling consultant for the EPA's grant programs "back in the '80s when all the recycling market development used to go on." She has seen changes to recycling end market development, especially which entities lead the charge. "Back in the '80s and '90s, recycling market development was largely a focus of state governments and the EPA," she said.

Dorn said today's corporate market development puts a large focus on two areas: overcoming technological barriers such as with sorting and recovering materials from a MRF, and then figuring out what to do with those materials. That includes determining how to get more recycled content products in the marketplace and stimulate demand for them.

In addition to greater corporate involvement, more industry nonprofits and associations are emerging and working toward solutions — especially as new items are accepted for recycling. For example, The Recycling Partnership and the Carton Council both formed in the past 10 years. These types of organizations launch numerous initiatives to raise awareness about recycling certain materials and using recycled content — such as the The Association of Plastic Recyclers' Demand Champions program — and many leverage grants or collaborations with other organizations to improve end markets.

Recommended Reads
Waste Management unveils major merger posted April 16, 2019 on

Production of recycling-friendly paper liner scales up posted May 7, 2019 on

Machinex revamps optical sorter design posted April 24, 2019 on

APR Highlights “Five for Focus” PET Bottle Design Areas posted May 8, 2019 on
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