A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Items we like to see. This one from a recent Resource Recycling eNewsletter.

Materials recovery in the Lone Star State contributed $3.3 billion to the state’s economy in 2015, according to a new report.

We find that: “Materials diversion in Texas supported 17,000 jobs.” Included in this number are “positions within the industry, jobs supported by commerce generated by the industry and positions supported by industry employees spending their earnings.”

These workers helped the state recycle 9.2 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) during the year. This is a recycling rate of about 22.7 percent. This MSW includes construction and demolition debris and organics. However, it does not include the materials recycled at drop-off sites such as our Green Guy Recycling services site.

A while back you may remember that China was starting to turn away some imports of recycled materials because of contaminates in it. Thus another article in the same newsletter addressed this.

It started: “China will shift its planned threshold for contamination in scrap paper imports from 0.3 percent to one percent, seemingly in response to concerns the original proposed limit would be impossible to hit.”

Additionally, “according to an announcement by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), the new decision would also set limits on contamination in plastic bales at 0.5 percent, and it would cap allowable contamination in loads of ferrous and nonferrous metals at one percent.”

This “news of changes to the proposed fiber limit comes after several months of uncertainty in that realm.” The earlier change to much lower amounts of contamination “drew widespread concern in the recycling industry, as most companies say 0.3 percent is an impossibly low contamination threshold to meet.”

Previously, “the stated industry guidelines for contamination of paper entering China ‘generally varies between one percent and five percent, depending upon the grade of paper.” Let’s hope it all gets ironed out as the paper mills in the U.S. cannot handle all the paper we recycle.

Finally for today, another item from the same newsletter that pleased us. It talks about a new bill, which if passed, would “unlock economic opportunity.”

“H.R. 1034, known as the Zero Waste Development and Expansion Act of 2017, creates a grant program within the U.S. EPA that would be funded with up to $100 million. The money would be available for projects in support of ‘zero waste’ efforts around the country.”

The bill was introduced by Congressman Ellison, a Democrat who represents Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District. In doing so, he expanded “on how the bill would work and why he supports it. He placed particular focus on the economic opportunity the recycling industry presents.”

He said, “I view us as investing literally billions one day into this, because we’ll get back trillions if we do it. We don’t have to pick between a good environment and a good economy. We can build one that does both, but it’s going to take a little bit of will, a little bit of ingenuity, and it’s going to take a whole lot of organization.”

Finally, he referenced the possibility of placing mandatory requirements on packaging producers for recyclability or compostability.

Till next week, do have a very Happy and Safe Thanksgiving...

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