June 2020

Monthly News & Updates in the Southeast
 Promoting sustainable recycling in the Southeast by connecting local supply and regional demand of recovered material.
Newsletters are accessible online at www.serdc.org/newsletter
Upcoming Webinars

Thursday July 9, 2020: 10-11 am ET

ISRI is bringing together experts and industry partners to talk about current market conditions around the world that influence scrap trade. Join the discussion and gain important insights as to what is happening in regions around the world

Free to ISRI members
$195 for nonmembers

Wednesday July 10, 2020: 2 pm ET
The New Normal series begins with a Q&A-focused session with recycling executives at some of North America's largest haulers and materials processors. Get the details on how these companies are positioning themselves in a world of market uncertainty
Hosted by Resource Recycling

Wednesday July 15, 2020: 2 pm ET
Led by The Recycling Partnership, this session will lay out how to develop fair and sustainable partnerships between cities and materials recovery facilities in a time of budget cuts and market volatility.
Hosted by Resource Recycling

Thursday July 16, 2020: 11 am ET
Calling all cities! You have an important role in supporting the manufacturing industry in making the products that we need every day. 

In this webinar, hear from speakers about the necessity of maintain our nation’s local recycling programs and steps to reduce program costs.  The economic recovery depends on feedstock for manufacturing.

Attendance will be limited for this webinar. A recorded video will be made available on the SERDC website after the event. 
Thursday, July 16: 11am – 12pm ET

ISRI is bringing together experts and industry partners to talk about current market conditions around the world that influence scrap trade. Join the discussion and gain important insights as to what is happening in regions around the world.

Free to ISRI members
$195 for nonmembers

Thursday, July 30, 2020: 12:30 pm-1:40 pm ET
The Tennessee Materials Marketplace program unites recyclers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, and other organizations to develop and scale new materials reuse and recycling market opportunities. Join this webinar to learn how the program creates more visibility for materials processing capabilities, increases the use of recycled content in manufacturing, and enables connections needed for the growth of a circular economy. The Tennessee Materials Marketplace program is managed by the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development with support from the Tennesee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

Wednesday August 5, 2020: 2 pm ET
This session explores critical efforts to support materials recovery for a wide range of materials. The new era of recycling is one built around multi-stakeholder involvement and collaboration, and these leaders will explain how that is set to play out
Hosted by Resource Recycling
SERDC News & Announcements

Are you sending the right message

Tennessee communities can go to www.recyclerighttn.org/join-today to sign up. Recycling guide layouts are available for both curbside and convenience center programs. Convenience center guides will feature locations and a map of their locations. Once set up, communities will receive a link to their own webpage link, which they can post on their website.

The recycling guide will allow residents to print a flyer of the guide for their own use. SERDC offers guidance for communities on simplifying their existing website pages as well.

SERDC partnered with The Recycling Partnership to include the ability to print labels for curbside bins and convenience center signage using the same imaging for consistent messaging to residents..
Weaverville, NC awarded Recycling Infrastructure Grant
The newest grant recipient of SERDC's Recycling Infrastructure Grant is the town of Weaverville, North Carolina. Weaverville is located north of Asheville and will be replaceing their blue bag recycling program with Curbside Carts for their more than 2,000 residents.

Plastic bags are a challenge at material recovery facilities as they tangle up machinery and trap recyclables as they are processed. In addition, carts on an automated route, provide a greater level of safety for collection crews.

Communities can apply for grants through SERDC to implement curbside programs, improve collection vehicles and add processing equipment to capture more material.

Grants are evaluated upon submission and awards are made in ongoing cycles. An application form is now available for submission.

Grant funding provided by
Survey to Material Recovery Facilities (MRF's) underway for regional study

SERDC is conducting a survey of the region's operating Material Recovery Facilities (MRF's) to identify existing infrastructure and to recognize operational challenges. SERDC will evaluate barriers to strengthening the supply chain. SERDC has obtained funding from the Glass Packaging Institute and the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association to conduct the survey.

Several recycling programs in the Southeast have recently discontinued the acceptance of glass containers in their collection programs.  The potentially diminishing supply of recycled glass cullet is of great concern to the glass bottle and fiberglass insulation manufacturers. Their furnaces operate more efficiently and use less fuel with greater amounts of cullet replacing virgin extracted resources.  

Individual MRFs will be surveyed to determine the scope and volume of glass recycling activities in addition to gauging overall processing capacity. In addition, SERDC will work with communities and MRFs to connect undeserved areas with a hub and spoke model approach to making recycling sustainable.

If you operate a MRF in the Southeast, get a jump start and fill out the survey here. All individual results will be kept confidential.
From SERDC Members
Buy Recycled Procurement Guidelines Proposed
The EPA is accepting comment and recommendations on the designation of items that are or can be made with recovered materials and to recommend practices for procurement of such items. EPA has designated 61 items in eight product categories in a Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) and has issued recycled-content recommendations and procurement specifications for these items in a series of Recovered Materials Advisory Notices (RMANs) published in the Federal Register. EPA last updated the CPG/RMANs in 2007.

The Agency is seeking comment concerning the list of CPG-designated items and recommendations issued in the associated RMANs until July 6th. View the Register

Disaster Debris Recovery Tool Introduced
The EPA has also released a new Disaster Debris Recovery Tool, which is an interactive mapping tool that includes recyclers and landfills that manage disaster debris. It provides information/locations of 20,000+ facilities that can manage materials found in disaster debris. View Tool

EPA is a member of SERDC

ISRI offers virtual events and COVID-19 hub
The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI) is the voice of the recycling industry promoting safe, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible recycling through networking, advocacy, and education.

ISRI has developed a hub of relevant information and resources to help provide the latest safe operations, advocacy, state & local policy and economic resources relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes information about how recyclers that are able and choose to operate can so do safety, as well as the latest information about how ISRI is actively working various state and federal policy initiatives that have impacts and potential benefits to the recycling industry. Learn more.

In addition, ISRI has developed a series of virtual events to adapt to the restrictions of traveling and networking.

ISRI Global Market Recovery in the Middle East & Asia: sponsored by Davis Index
Thursday, July 9: 10am – 11 am ET. Free to members, $195 for nonmembers

ISRI Town Hall: Global Market Recovery in Europe and the Americas: sponsored by Davis Index
Thursday, July 16: 11am – 12pm ET. Free to members, $195 for nonmembers

IRSI is a member of SERDC

Recent APR meeting addresses policy, demand and COVID-19
Posted on June 3, 2020 from resource-recycling.com/plastics

Plastics recycling stakeholders met recently for the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) members meeting, being held online for the first time.

Plastics recycling-related policy had gained significant momentum through 2019 and early 2020 around the country, and despite the COVID-19 setbacks, APR expects this push will continue. Alexander said that on Capitol Hill, there has been more interest in recycling – and plastics recycling specifically – “in the last 18 months than probably in the last 30 years.”

Current policy discussions include the Break Free From Plastic Pollution act, which Alexander described as an omnibus piece of legislation that includes numerous proposals and would likely be heavily modified from its current form if it were to gain traction.

Other national policy pieces include the RECOVER Act, which focuses on infrastructure funding; the RECYCLE Act, which includes a consumer education program and tax incentives for recycling businesses; and a virgin resin fee proposal floated recently by the Consumer Brands Association.

Alexander also touched on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s framework of plastics sustainability commitments, noting that there are over 400 companies that have signed on and pledged to use more recycled-content materials and take other steps. He said APR is currently involved in interpreting how brand owners will work toward goals in the U.S.

Taking stock of supply
In a session focused specifically on plastic recycling market issues, industry experts discussed how COVID-19 has affected material supply and demand.

Curbside recycling programs have been suspended in some areas due to the pandemic, but some have started back up. Scott Mouw, senior director of strategy and research at The Recycling Partnership, said his organization has tallied 108 curbside program suspensions since the pandemic hit the U.S. Most of those are small-town programs, he added, and most involve a lot of manual handling of recyclables.

Out of those 108 suspensions, The Recycling Partnership has determined 41 have resumed service, with more coming back each day, Mouw said.

But the impact is far from over. “We do see some fiscal pressures on local budgets that will affect these programs,” he said. He also noted the virus impact could lead to additional automation within recycling facilities in the future.

Sticking with sustainability
Also in the markets session, a representative from Walmart said the pandemic will not cause the company to retreat from its sustainability commitments.

There has been speculation among analysts and industry members about whether major consumer goods companies will back off of their recycled content goals as they face COVID-19 challenges. But Ashley C. Hall, director of sustainable packaging at Walmart, said for her company, this is not the case.

Progress for PP?
Those demand commitments from brands are critical to tackling additional materials in the recycling stream, such as polypropylene.

Mouw said The Recycling Partnership is “very bullish” about increasing polypropylene recovery, as the resin is present in the recycling stream at the same rates as natural and color HDPE. “We think it should be a mainstream collected and sorted and marketed material,” he said.

But market forces are working against making that happen, explained Dan Leif, managing editor of Resource Recycling, Inc. (publisher of Plastics Recycling Update). Resin prices for many recycled plastic resins have been low recently, which makes it less desirable for recycling companies to target additional streams.

“When we’re talking about pulling something like polypropylene, when these values are low, that’s working against a MRF’s incentive to sort it out,” Leif said. When MRFs are dealing with COVID-19 impacts on their operations and wider economic uncertainty, “to be going after a low value resin is going to be a particularly difficult thing,” he said.

Those economic realities underscore the importance of using tools such as corporate goal-setting and policy to drive demand and higher pricing. “It’s certainly not going to happen on its own,” Leif said.

APR and TRP are members of SERDC
Around the Country
Unifi reaches 20 billion goal on recycled plastic bottles
Posted on June 5, 2020 from journalnow.com

Unifi Inc. announced in early June that it has exceeded the 20 billion mark for using recycled plastic bottles in its Repreve yarn fiber products.

The Greensboro, North Carolina manufacturer, which has its largest production plant in Yadkinville, set the 20 billion goal in 2017.

To put the milestone into context, 20 billion single-serve plastic bottles can physically circle the earth 100 times or fill the Empire State building more than 13 times.

The milestone is the equivalent of keeping 156 plastic bottles per U.S. household out of the landfill.

Repreve yarns have been used in apparel, upholstery, automotive and industrial applications. The products have been the primary reason for Unifi’s financial and production rebound from the Great Recession.

Unifi has expanded the recycled bottle goal to 30 billion by the end of 2022.
Plastics recycling bill introduced to Congress
Posted on June 16, 2020 from Resource-Recycling.com

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have put forth legislation focused on reducing plastic waste and bolstering plastics recycling.

The Plastic Waste Reduction and Recycling Act, introduced on Tuesday, directs various federal agencies and offices to take steps to support plastics recycling. A bill summary is available here.

For example, it directs the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy to create a new program to “improve the global competitiveness of the United States plastics recycling industry, ensure U.S. leadership in plastics waste reduction and recycling research, ensure U.S. leadership in national and international standards development, and reduce the harmful effects of plastic waste,” according to the bill summary.

It also directs the federal government to create a plastic waste reduction plan and develop standards for plastics recycling technologies.

The bipartisan bill was introduced by Reps. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., and Anthony Gonzaler, R-Ohio. Stevens, who is chairwoman of the House Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology, helped launch the Congressional Plastics Solutions Task Force in December.

The legislation joins a number of other bills currently in Congress that focus on plastics and recycling.

Strained supply chains, resource scarcity drive heightened focus on circularity amid pandemic
Posted on June 10, 2020 from wastedive.com

The global net that used to hold trade together was intricate, Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership, recently told Waste Dive. Much of that recycling system was already in flux as people adjusted to recent changes in international trade policy while also facing constant pressure from the often simpler and cheaper option of disposal. “With an added strain like coronavirus, you can see some fissures pretty fast,” Harrison said.

Wayne Gjerde, recycling market development coordinator with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, has been checking in on the paper mills in his state that produce packaging for General Mills, Pillsbury and other food suppliers. Those manufacturers still need raw materials to meet customer demand and higher grocery store sales, he said. Residents are also moving forward with at-home construction projects, and regional suppliers of plastic or wood-composite lumber still need those supplies.

Recycling fills those supply chain needs, and importantly, keeps paper mills and other manufacturing facilities open, according to Gjerde. If existing paper mills or other plants close, they rarely if ever reopen and the alternative to recycling doesn’t provide as much opportunity for employment.

Bottom lines have pushed other private businesses to consider circularity during the pandemic, too. A Closed Loop Partners webinar led by Danielle Joseph, executive director of Closed Loop Ventures, walked through the changes some companies have seen since industry has begun soliciting more of their products as a solution to supply chain woes.

AMP Robotics is one of those suppliers. During the pandemic, interest in the company's product — robots that pluck out particular items from the recycling stream — has increased amid concerns around worker safety at MRFs during the pandemic. Recycling itself has to continue, however, and manufacturers have been cut off from global supply networks while shifting production to needs such as manufacturing more shipping boxes.

Outside the private sector, municipalities have the opportunity to incorporate circular economy principles too. With potential budget cuts coming for many local governments, there is a concern about how those reductions could change recycling programs, said The Recycling Partnership's Harrison. “Their budgets in 2021 will have to respond to loss as a result of this, and what does that mean for recycling budgets for a time of severe belt tightening?” she asked.

So far, it seems temporary suspensions of existing curbside recycling peaked around 100 programs, mostly in smaller municipalities, according to The Recycling Partnership’s data. In light of the pandemic, the organization co-authored a letter to Congress suggesting the previously proposed RECOVER Act funding be expanded to $1 billion to support the U.S. recycling system. If current infrastructure gets abandoned, it will be very challenging to build back up, Keefe said. Some environmental organizations have criticized this funding request and others in the sector have mixed feelings about the approach.

Allied Partner