September 2020

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

VIRTUAL EVENT: September 1-2, 2020: NERC-Northeast Glass Forum

VIRTUAL EXPO: September 14-17, 2020: Waste Expo 2020

VIRTUAL EVENT: September 22-23, 2020: Recycling Florida Today Annual Conference

VIRTUAL EVENT: October 5-7, 2020: Georgia Recycling Coalition Annual Conference

VIRTUAL EVENT: October 5-9, 2020: State of TX Alliance for Recycling Annual Summit

VIRTUAL EVENT: October 20-22, 2020: Paper and Plastics Recycling Conference

VIRTUAL EVENT: October 20-22, 2020: NERC Fall Conference

October 21-23, 2020: TSWDA Conference- Gatlinburg, TN

CANCELLED: October 26-28, 2020 Arkansas Recycling Coalition Annual Conference- Eureka Springs, AR

VIRTUAL EVENT:: October 26-28, 2020:

CANCELLED: October 27- October 30, 2020: Virginia Recycling Association Annual Conference- Virginia Beach, VA
Upcoming Webinars

Wednesday September 2: 11 am ET
Measurement Matters: How Do We Measure Now? Hosted by Resource Recycling
Explores metrics and data in the age of the coronavirus. Industry leaders Re-TRAC, The Recycling Partnership and the U.S. EPA will walk

Wednesday September 2: 11 am ET
Learn more about why the sponsors and REMADE came together to research FPP recovery, recent MRF test results from ongoing RRS monitoring, FPP sorting value for the MRF, rFlex end markets, as well as the choices brand owners have for packaging and why flexible packaging recycling is important.

Wednesday September 9: 2 pm ET
Taking action to support the recycling industry is essential - especially these days. A new national program, the NERC-APR Government Recycling Demand Champion Program, provides a simple strategy for closing the loop by buying products with post-consumer plastic recycled content.

Tuesday September 22: 1 pm ET
This one-hour webcast will show you tools to evaluate these aspects and how brands like HP are increasing recycled content in their products and assessing performance and sustainability, including responsible sourcing of materials.

Thursday September 24: 2 pm ET
This webinar - the first in a two-part series on minimum recycled content being offered jointly by NERC and NEWMOA - will focus on existing state and local laws. The State of California and King County, Washington will be profiled.

Thursday September 24: 1 pm ET
Register for the webinar to learn about the new international requirements for exports and imports of plastic scrap and potential impacts on transboundary movements of this material.
SERDC News & Announcements
October 13-15, 2020
SERDC Annual Meeting
The SERDC Program Committee is busy finalizing the details for this year's annual meeting, In the past, a one-day forum was held in our region, addressing relevant recycling topics and conducting the annual membership meeting. Due to the pandemic, a three-day virtual event will be offered in it's place for 2 hours each day. More information will be made available in September, including how to register. Hope to "see" you there!
Seeing slight shifts in municipal recycling programs
The Southeast Recycling Development Council shares municipal recycling trends it has noticed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Posted August 27,2020 on

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, several municipal recycling programs were suspended as a result earlier this spring and summer. In addition, bottle bill programs were halted in some areas. Back in June, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that allowed grocers and retailers to choose whether they would redeem bottles and cans or continue to suspend those collections for a 60-day period.

Recycling Today connected with Will Sagar, executive director of the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC), to learn about trends SERDC is noticing this year in municipal recycling programs.

Recycling Today (RT): Based on what you’ve noticed lately, how have municipal recycling programs been doing this spring and summer? Has the pandemic had much of an impact on them?

Will Sagar (WS): The first obvious thing everybody saw was residential picked up and commercial collection dropped. That affected the supply chain. We saw increases in OCC (old corrugated container) prices. That price has since dropped back down, but it’s still stronger than we were at before, which is encouraging. So, that’s been good.

Plastic containers suffered, and price has gone down, but that’s not just because the supply picked up. The price of oil went down because of the lack of demand for gasoline. When petroleum went down, plastic prices went down. So, that was pandemic driven, but a bit more indirectly.

Then the other side of that, we lost some bottle deposit programs for a while. Eight out of 10 states removed the requirement that retailers needed to operate buyback programs. People with beverage containers could forego it or put it in regular recycling programs.

But probably the bigger thing we’re looking at is the financial strains that counties and cities have been facing and are going to face from their lost revenue—sales tax revenues are down, occupancy taxes … they will see lower collection rates by the end of the year. City budges will be under an awful lot of stress throughout this fiscal year. Our hope is they don’t look at recycling collection as some luxury add-on program; we work hard for recycling to be essential in a pandemic because we need this material for supply chain manufacturing. Recycling is a significant part of economic recoveries, but if we start by not operating collection, we run into significant obstacles on recovery. So, that concern is out there.

RT: We’ve noticed in the media that some municipal recycling programs were suspended due to COVID-19. Have you been tracking this lately?

WS: It’s hard to track programs being suspended. You try to keep the list up, but it’s a moving target, and there’s no central hub. I would have discussions with some state agencies, and they weren’t necessarily aware if there were suspensions within their own states. It comes down to if local government suspends their program, they won’t do an annual report on what they did until this time next year. They don’t necessarily have to tell the state if they stopped collecting in a given month. So, there’s a lag in that reporting time for state agencies to know about it. Some state agencies have closer relationships with localities than others, and some programs we were picking up in the media that the state agencies weren’t aware of.

RT: Since the pandemic hit, have contamination levels changed at all?

WS: We’re conducting a MRF (material recovery facility) study right now, and we asked that question. So far, most of them have said there’s been no difference—it’s about the same. [The only difference is there is more residential material than commercial material.] I would speculate that there is less of public space recycling going on, and that tends to be a higher contamination-level source.

RT: What do you think may be long-term impacts of the pandemic on municipal recycling?

WS: It does look like whatever ‘normal’ used to be is probably not where we’re going to be a year from now. Even if we had a vaccine and infection rates were down, I think there will be a lot more working remotely, and I think along the way we’re probably picking up a strengthening of family values. We’ve stayed in our bubble more, making it more important to spend time with children and grandchildren. I think that will keep residential collection reasonably strong.
From SERDC Members

Free Tools to Make Recycling Messaging More Clear
The Recycling Partnership has updated their FREE online Campaign Builder. This tool lets you take the reins - simply answer five questions to customize your campaign materials to help tackle the top contamination issues in your community.

The result? Promotional materials that highlight what’s accepted in your program, with your community’s name and contact information in tow. It’s like magic, but more practical. And now, the graphics align with the free DIYSigns for Recycling.

TRP is a member of SERDC

Polypropylene Recycling Grant Program for MRFs
The Recycling Partnership has launched the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition, an industry collaboration to improve polypropylene recovery and recycling in the United States and further develop the end market of high quality recycled polypropylene.

The Coalition took its first action by opening a Request For Proposals (RFP) for Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) to apply for financial grants to enable improved sortation of polypropylene and widen acceptance through consumer education programs in communities.
According to The Recycling Partnership’s 2020 State of Curbside Recycling report, there may be as much as 1.6 billion pounds of polypropylene available per year from single-family homes that could be recycled into new products ranging from automotive parts to personal care and food packaging. The Polypropylene Recycling Coalition’s RFP will improve polypropylene recycling by awarding grant dollars to be applied to purchasing polypropylene sorting equipment and supporting consumer education programs in communities.
For MRFs interested in applying for a grant, read more here.

TRP is a member of SERDC
AF&PA and Industry Partners Aim to Set the Record Straight – Pizza Boxes Are Recyclable: Grease and Cheese Not an Issue

Posted July 13, 2020

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) today released new
industry guidance that aims to clear up consumer confusion regarding the recyclability of pizza boxes. The guidance resulted from a study conducted by WestRock – an AF&PA member company – that found the presence of grease and cheese at levels typically found on pizza boxes does not impact manufacturing in a negative way.

“Corrugated pizza boxes are successfully recycled every day at paper mills throughout the country, yet consumers remain confused by mixed messages suggesting that some boxes should not be put in the recycle bin,” said AF&PA President and CEO Heidi Brock. “So, let’s be clear: pizza boxes are recyclable. Consumers should not be concerned about grease or cheese – simply remove any leftover pizza and place the box in the recycle bin. We encourage communities to update their residential recycling programs guidelines to explicitly accept pizza boxes that are free of food.”

In a recent membership-wide survey, AF&PA members representing 93.6 percent of the total amount of Old Corrugated Containers consumed by member companies, said they accept corrugated pizza boxes for recycling.

For more information about the recyclability of pizza boxes, including AF&PA’s Pizza Box Recycling Statement, visit

For more information about WestRock’s study on the impact of grease on recycling
post-consumer pizza boxes, visit:

AF&PA and WestRock are members of SERDC
Calling all Exhibitors for America Recycles:
Innovation Fair
Applications for Free, Virtual and In-Person Innovation Fair Due Sept 10
The exhibitor application form for this year’s America Recycles: Innovation Fair is now live on the EPA's website. The deadline for applications is September 10. This year, the America Recycles: Innovation Fair plans to showcase exhibitors both online (via a virtual exhibit hall) as well as in person on November 16.

 All organizations with innovations that advance recycling are encouraged to apply. EPA’s goal is to connect the public and potential investors with recycling innovators, ideally spurring market development and adoption of new technologies that increase recycling rates, as well as create new products comprised of post-recycled content.
Learn more about the EPA America Recycles: Innovation Fair and apply today!

US EPA is a member of SERDC
Record Year for Machinex's Baler Sales
Posted on August 28, 2020

During the last twelve months, Machinex had a record year on balers sales including 8 single ram and 12 II ram high capacity balers throughout Canada and the United States.

In North America, both II ram and single ram balers were installed, with some ending up in long-time customers' facilities such as Rumpke Recycling in Louisville, KY and Medina, OH, Republic Services in Greensboro, NC for the US part. In Canada, balers were installed at GFL facilities in Richmond and Winnipeg but not only.

Machinex started manufacturing high capacity single ram balers in 2003 to offer a superior baler in terms of quality and efficiency. This offer added value to turnkey systems and allowed the company to improve its self-sufficiency as a supplier, all while having a machine that aligns with the company's high standards. In 2012, due to growing customer demand for high capacity II ram balers, Machinex installed its first II ram baler in a customer's facility. The long-time expertise of Machinex as a turnkey solution provider gives unparalleled benefits to customers.

“One of our clients in St Louis considered four other major II ram baler manufacturers as a part of their buying process. They selected the Machinex baler because we had the lowest “cost of ownership” over a 10-year period when considering baling capacity and annual maintenance” said Rusty Angel, Eastern Region Sales Manager in the United States.

Machinex is a member of SERDC
Rusty Angel is a SERDC Board Member and Program Committee Co-Chair
Around the Country
The REMADE Institute Announces Up to $35 Million In Funding For Technology Solutions To Accelerate The Transition To The Circular Economy
Posted August 17, 2020

The REMADE Institute has issued its fourth Request for Proposals (RFP) to invest up to $35M for research and development of transformational technologies to increase the recovery, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling of metals, polymers, fibers, and e-waste. The funding will be matched by project participants, for a total investment of up to $70M.  

REMADE has made it a priority to focus on the plastic value chain by especially seeking proposals that will significantly increase the domestic recycling of plastics. Using recycled plastic instead of virgin plastic can reduce energy consumption by up to 79% and greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 67%* 

Virginia Recycling Association/SWANA Conference Cancelled with Webinar Series to Replace
After much consideration, the conference committee made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Joint Solid Waste and Recycling Conference scheduled for October 28-30.

VRA and SWANA have converted the education sessions from the conference into separate webinars, scheduled from August through November. There are 13 Zoom webinars scheduled over the next 13 weeks. Register for just a few or pay one flat fee to participate in as many as you would like.

Two sessions are free to all participants - Sustainability on September 17, and Safety on October 29, both sessions offer Certifications. All members and non-members are welcome to participate in these sessions without charge.

Please register early as there is a limit of 100 registrants for all sessions. Add your name to the wait list if the session is full and we will add you as spots become available. Please be advised paid participants for other sessions will be prioritized for these free sessions over non-paying registrants if needed. Only paid participants will be allowed to access the paid sessions.

SERDC's Executive Director, Will Sagar, will be one of the presenters on Surviving COVID-19 and Using Relilience Thinking to Thrive on September 3 at 10 am.

SWEEP standard coming to fruition with industry support and pilot cities
Posted August 31, 2020 on

A new standard for the solid waste and recycling industry is coming to fruition after years of work, with the potential to advance a broad range of sustainable materials management practices and bring better data to the sector.

After launching in 2016, the Solid Waste Environmental Excellence Performance (SWEEP) standard group recently put the last changes in its first offering to a final ballot for approval by members of a National Consensus Committee. Pending majority approval to the final changes in this version of the SWEEP+ standard it will be ready for use by pilot municipalities in the coming months, with a public version targeted for 2021 based on their feedback. Modeled in part on the LEED system for buildings, SWEEP's goal is to spur evolution in the industry and also encourage more coherent data reporting to help track national progress.

SWEEP+, the first standard being voted on and piloted, is intended for "the top quartile" of the industry. Like SWEEP, it will have four sub-levels of achievement – certified, silver, gold and platinum. SWEEP-Zero, intended to be "a beacon Zero Waste standard for the most advanced and successful programs" will have one level and is likely to only be attainable for a select few in the beginning due to the high baseline requirements that are expected to be developed in the future.

Latest MRF Blended Value of a Ton Study Released shows Improvement in Value
The Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) has published the fifth in its series of quarterly reports on the blended value of a ton of materials marketed at MRFs in the Northeast.

This report covers the period April – June 2020, and is somewhat different from previous reports. Eleven states are represented in this report, including Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

The latest report reveals some interesting trends:

  • The value of a ton of MRF materials increased significantly in the period April – June 2020 compared to the previous quarter, both with and without the cost of managing residuals.
  • Average commodity value per ton with the expense of handling residuals: $51.23 – up 27%
  • Average commodity value per ton without residuals: $59.58 – up 25%
  • The average value of a ton also increased compared to the first quarter of this research (April – June 2019)
  • Average commodity value per ton with residuals increase of 12%.
  • Average commodity value per ton without residuals increase of 15%.

The average processing cost per ton: $93/ton. This quarter represents a decrease of 3% as compared to the previous period.

The survey will be repeated for the quarter July – September 2020 and a report published of the results.

The study was made possible with a grant from EPA Region 3.

Allied Partner