A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Last week we spoke about how China is banning certain recycled imports. In it we mentioned how the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, sent their comments about it to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Today we will report how another organization sent similar comments.

From a recent Waste Age eNewsletter, we find the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) also submitted comments to the WTO. Their comments addressed several things:

1). what effect the proposed ban on certain categories of recyclables could have on municipal recycling in the United States and Canada,

2) Need for further clarification on the terms of the ban, and

3) An offer of technical assistance to the Chinese government on waste and recycling related matters.

“We need to work with the Chinese government to develop a practical timeline for the proposed ban, while improving bale quality for material exported to China and other foreign markets,a SWANA executive director and CEO explained.

“Because single stream recycling has become the prominent method of recycling in North America it is imperative that the quality of the sorted recycled materials be as high as possible to avoid loads being rejected,” the president of SWANA commented.

He went on to say, “Many material recovery facilities are looking to upgrade their sorting systems to improve the quality of their bales along with better educating their residents on what can and more importantly cannot be recycled. The actual impacts on the Chinese waste ban are still being interpreted, but SWANA is keeping close tabs on the implications for our members and the industry.”

While SWANA supports the earlier concerns voiced by ISRI (mentioned in last week’s column), it would like to see a five-year period for transition to the ban requirements. This would give time for customers and suppliers in the United States plus the global marketplace to make the necessary changes to meet China’s desires.

“We appreciate SWANA joining with ISRI and others to raise concerns about China’s import restrictions.” the CEO of ISRI said. “We look forward to working with SWANA to support the Chinese government’s environmental protection goals.”

Let’s hope China is willing to listen so a better system can be worked out instead of them just shutting off the important import of many of our recycled items.

Switching subjects, here is an item I found interesting in a recent Recycling Today eNewsletter. It mentioned how a county, by using a different type of daily cover for its landfill, received an award for it.

“Mesa County Solid Waste Management in Colorado was recently awarded for its alternative daily cover (ADC) method at its landfill.” This award for innovation was “from the North America Hazardous Materials Management Association for using discarded latex paint as ADC.”

According to the report, “The paint is designed to prevent interaction between waste and the air, reduces odors and gives incoming and outgoing vehicles a steady driving base.”

It appears the landfill was running out of the soil it was previously using and needed another way to cover the material each day, thus the start of using latex paint instead.

The landfill already collected household hazardous waste on its site. There, residents could bring their unneeded latex paint and officials would send it out for proper disposal. Now, by using this paint for cover instead, “the landfill saved $11,300 by not shipping the paint out. Thousands of more dollars have been saved through litter control as well.”

“Within the last year, the facility recycled 3,800 gallons of paint.” It also explained before it’s used for landfill cover, the paint is mixed with other chemicals. But didn’t mention which ones. This seems to me to be a good use for such paint, unless of course, it is given free to homeowners who want to use it to improve the looks of some structure – as our Hazardous Waste Collection facility in San Marcos does.

Till next week, do have a happy and safe Labor Day...

Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or e-mail omaier@txstate.edu

San Marcos Daily Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666