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Teach-In Toolkits for Earth Day 2017

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 10, 2017

Fibrex GroupIn preparation for Earth Day on April 22nd, Earth Day Network has launched five toolkits to encourage and inspire local leaders to engage their communities in environmental activism. In line with the theme for 2017, Environmental and Climate Literacy, teach-ins will be held simultaneously around the world as tribute to the first Earth Day in 1970.

This year, Earth Day Network is co-organizing the March for Science rally and teach-in on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. More than 100,000 science marches and teach-ins are being organized in the United States, in India and in other countries. “We are especially pleased that scientists are reaching out to EDN and the environmental community to participate in Earth Day and our worldwide activities,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network.

The first toolkit, “Earth Day Action Toolkit: Educating and Activating Communities for Change,” is a general guide on how to organize an event in local communities, ranging from more teach-ins to reforestation events. The second, “Environmental Teach-in Toolkit,” gives details on what an Earth Day teach-in can accomplish and how to effectively and efficiently organize one. The third, “Global Day of Conversation Toolkit for Local Governments” promotes the Global Day of Conversation campaign, where local governments can learn how to discuss the quality of environmental education with their constituents. The fourth, “MobilizeU: Campus Teach-In Toolkit,” provides step-by-step instructions for colleges and universities to host their own teach-ins. We also have comprehensive Guides and Resources for Communities of Faith. And a toolkit for Climate Education week will be available shortly.

Toolkits and other resources can be found on the Earth Day Network website.

“We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concept of climate change and inspired by environmental education to act in defense of the planet,” said Rogers.

The teach-in technique was deployed at the first Earth Day in 1970, where concerned citizens gathered across the country to learn about environmental degradation. The activism that followed led to the passing of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, which are considered landmark legislation in environmental protection.

Earth Day Network works in 192 countries is a catalyst for action and more than 1 billion people are expected to participate in this year’s marches, teach-ins and actions. EDN is asking organizers to register their events on Earth Day Network’s website. This can be done at

*Original posted on 2/27/17

A Spring Recycling How-To: Cleaning Your Home and Yard the Environmentally Friendly Way

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fibrex GroupThough some places around the U.S. are still suffering the last angry outburst of winter, most are already enjoying the warm sunshine and bright colors of spring. However, before you can truly enjoy the nice weather, you need to finish your dreaded spring cleaning. In years past, you may have toiled weekend after weekend to scour your home of winter dust and grime and declutter your favorite spaces ― but this year will be different. Using the following eco-friendly tips, you can recycle your way to a cleaner home in no time.

Big Belongings

Tables covered with old mail and dirty clothes all over your floor seems to make your home look cluttered, but actually, too many big items in and around your home take up more space. For example, if you have three sofas in one room, something is probably amiss. Besides spare furniture, other large items you might no longer have need for include extra appliances, moldering boats and cars, and outdated electronics. By ridding your home of a smaller number of larger items, you can start feeling fresher, sooner. Here’s how:


Large items tend to be composed of hundreds of smaller parts, and not everything inside is recyclable. Because municipal recycling centers are rarely equipped to dismantle large items themselves, you should avoid putting these items out for pick-up without putting in a little work. Using online guides for reference ― and using essential safety gear, like goggles ― you can take apart your large items and reclaim materials that can be placed into your recycling bin, like aluminum, glass, and certain plastics.

Alternatively, you can contact organizations that have the knowledge, skills, and equipment necessary to retrieve recyclable materials from larger items. This might mean hauling your items to scrapyards, junkyards, or other drop-off locations. Often, these groups will pay you for your item, since they will sell the recyclable materials to manufacturers.


If your items are in good repair, you might consider reusing before recycling ― or donating before dismantling. Many organizations are eager for large items like furniture to place in homes or like old vehicles and boats to sell for cash to help charitable causes. Often, charities are more than willing to pick up your contributions, and sometimes, groups will assess your donations and provide receipts good for sizeable tax deductions.

Small Stuff

Refrigerators and freezers stuffed with food you won’t eat, closets bursting with clothing you don’t want, and other storage spaces (and non-storage spaces) that are covered with stuff are ripe for some spring cleaning. More of the clutter strewn around your home is recyclable or reusable, which means you can get rid of it in an economical and environmentally friendly way. Consider the following cleaning tactics:


By now, you should know what items you can toss in your recycling bin, and if you don’t, you should be able to find out using your city’s recycling website. Typical recyclables include paper, glass, aluminum, and most plastics. However, you might also be able to recycle things like plastic shopping bags, clothing from artificial materials (like nylon and rayon), fizzed lightbulbs, paint, tires, and more by contacting local organizations.


All food is biodegradable, which means instead of sending it away to a landfill, you can reuse it to make your garden look great. Composting is incredibly easy; in fact, you can start right now if you have a large container, some soil, and the right foods. You can even put yard trash into your compost pile, but tough branches and sticks might take longer to decompose. With diligent care, your compost pile will produce wonderfully nutritious fertilizer for your garden ― just in time for spring.


You don’t have to be crafty to succeed at upcycling old items ― but it certainly helps to have a hot glue gun and some paint brushes. You can find hundreds of websites helping you reimagine your old trash as invaluable new treasures. However, you should try to avoid holding onto useless stuff in the hopes of one day completing a repurposing project; that’s just procrastination. When it comes to repurposing, complete the projects immediately or get rid of the items.


Finally, as with your big belongings, if your small stuff is in good condition, you might consider donating it to those in need. The closer you can get your donations to the people who will use them, the better; therefore, instead of dropping everything off at a thrift shop, you might consider giving books and toys to the children’s hospital, clothing and bedding to a homeless shelter, and food to a soup kitchen. Then, no one will waste time or resources doing what’s right.

*Contributed by Jenn French

Resource Recycling editorial analysis: Where recycling could feel EPA cuts

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fibrex GroupAfter he spent a good chunk of his campaign blasting the Environmental Protection Agency, it was hardly surprising that Donald Trump would take a knife to the EPA budget once he was actually in office. But the Trump administration’s proposed 31 percent slash last week has nevertheless raised eyebrows everywhere, including the recycling industry.

Under President Trump’s budget blueprint, the federal environmental agency would cut 3,200 positions from its staff, which currently numbers around 15,000. It would also eliminate more than 50 individual EPA programs. All told, the president wants to cut $2.6 billion from the EPA’s budget.

When it comes to funding materials recovery programs in America, most public dollars come from state and local sources, not the U.S. EPA. But recycling and the agency are still intimately intertwined.

The EPA’s annual solid waste report, for example, offers key information for industry benchmarking numbers. And the agency has been critical in convening stakeholders to develop markets for recyclable materials and put other plans into action on a regional level. The agency has also of late served as a powerful voice when it comes to prioritizing food waste reduction efforts and transitioning toward a sustainable materials management mode of thinking.

Trump’s proposal is still a long way from actual implementation – Congress ultimately determines the nation’s budget, and many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed opposition to the president’s proposal. But the Trump budget does show the depth of the administration’s aims when it comes to slimming down the agency and makes it clear that serious cuts will almost assuredly be coming.

What it all means for recycling is unclear, but a review of the EPA’s current touch points with U.S. materials recovery shows some of the areas where impacts could be felt.

For full article, click here.

*Posted on March 21, 2017 by Colin Staub & Dan Leif

Fibrex Group One of Top 100 Recycling Blogs!

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fibrex Group is proud to have been selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 100 Recycling Blogs on the web!!

Earth Hour Set for Saturday, March 25

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Fibrex Group, Earth HourEarth Hour is scheduled for Saturday, March 25 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time. It is a lights-off event organized by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that now has the participation of individuals and groups in almost 180 countries. Earth Hour was started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Lights will be dimmed in homes, offices, hotels and landmarks as a reminder to work toward greater efficiency, a sustainable future and to slow and stop man’s impact on climate change.

The Earth Hour website features a “How Your Hotel Can Join the Earth Hour Movement” guide. It includes Earth Hour activity suggestions including discounted drinks and Earth Hour themed cocktails, lantern-making classes for kids, the opportunity to dine by candlelight, and creating a pledge board in the lobby for guests to record their actions. Earth Hour can also be used as a fundraising opportunity to support an environmental effort.

The Earth Hour organization has launched a program called “Just One.” It has been specifically designed to meet the needs of the hotel industry. Just One will engage guests year-round to create positive change for the planet both in their backyard and around the world.

**Original by Glenn Hasek 2/23/17

Keep America Beautiful’s RecycleMania begins with 'race to zero waste'

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fibrex GroupThe 17th annual RecycleMania, managed by Keep America Beautiful, has begun on college campuses across the country. The competition started on Feb. 5 and will run through April 1. Some of the main competitors include Rutgers University, Texas Tech University, San Diego State University and Indiana University. Students and staff will report their diversion and reduction efforts weekly and the results will be displayed on an online scoreboard.

This year, a new four-week pilot competition called "Race to Zero Waste" was introduced in select schools, with a focus on those that already have high diversion rates. Each school will be judged on how much waste they produce and their building diversion rates.

More than 1,000 colleges and universities have participated in RecycleMania since it began in 2001 and helped divert an estimated 730 million pounds of material during those competitions. Last year, Richmond College in Dallas had the best diversion rate and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angles had the best per capita rate. The winner of each category receives national recognition and hosts the trophy for a year.

Campuses have been at the center of many successful diversion efforts lately, including public space recycling and food waste diversion. More than 120 schools have joined the EPA's Food Recovery Challenge with initiatives such as recovered food feasts or the installation of on-site organics processing technologies.

While a recent Keep America Beautiful survey showed that millennials are more likely to buy recycled products, they were also more likely to be skeptical of the recycling process. New educational programs have been introduced to help give students an understanding of the material management process at a young age and change these perceptions for future generations. Current college students or recent graduates are seen as more engaged in environmental issues and will be closely watched as they become both future customers and future industry professionals.

**Original posted 2/10/17 by Cole Rosengren

Carry Reusable Bags on your Shopping Trips!

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fibrex GroupEven though New York State has suspended the implementation of the New York City carryout bag law, DSNY (Department of Sanitation, New York) remains committed to reducing the use of single-use plastic bags, and continues to encourage New Yorkers to use convenient reusable bags. Using reusable bags saves taxpayers money, helps reduce the amount of waste we send to landfills, and helps keep bags out of our trees, streets and waterways. DSNY is distributing 400,000 reusable bags across the City. Check the bag giveaway event page for a location near you. Or, take the Zero Waste Pledge to receive a free reusable bag in the mail. And be sure to visit their website regularly for updated information.

***Original posted at

U.S. solar market sees astounding 95% growth in 2016

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fibrex Group Solar LightsIn its biggest year to date, the United States solar market nearly doubled its annual record, topping out at 14,625 MW of solar PV installed in 2016. This represents a 95% increase over 2015’s then record-breaking 7,493 MW. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) previewed this data in advance of their upcoming U.S. Solar Market Insight report, set to be released on March 9.

For the first time ever, U.S. solar ranked as the No. 1 source of new electric generating capacity additions on an annual basis. Altogether, solar accounted for 39% of new capacity additions across all fuel types in 2016.

“What these numbers tell you is that the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Solar’s economically-winning hand is generating strong growth across all market segments nationwide, leading to more than 260,000 Americans now employed in solar.”

The non-residential market also exceeded expectations with two major growth drivers in the segment. The first is community solar, adding a record total of more than 200 MW, led by Minnesota and Massachusetts. Second, rate design and net energy metering fueled a rush in project development and installation growth across a number of major state markets, most notably in California.

On March 9, GTM Research and SEIA will release the complete U.S. Solar Market Insight 2016 Year in Review, the industry’s definitive source of state and segment-level solar data, analysis and forecasts.

*Original posted February 15, 2017 by Kelly Pickerel

Medals for 2020 Tokyo Olympics will officially be made from e-waste

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Fibrex GroupOrganizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games have officially decided to use e-waste to manufacture the 5,000 medals that athletes will be competing for, as reported by The Japan Times.

The Tokyo organizing committee is partnering with the telecommunications company NTT Docomo and the Japan Environmental Sanitation Center in an effort to collect up to 8 tons of metal from devices. Starting in April, collection boxes will be placed in more than 2,400 NTT Docomo stores throughout the country and in multiple office buildings. Organizers estimate that millions of devices will be needed and they will continue collections for as long as necessary to hit the target.

While previous Olympic Games have used recycled content in their medals, including the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, this will be the first time that e-waste has been used as a source. If enough material can be collected, the gold medals will be made from 100% recycled content.

Olympic cities often ask mining companies to provide the necessary metal so this would be an interesting change for a city that has already previewed many technological innovations for the 2020 games. The challenge will be ramping up the country's recovery system, which is currently collecting an estimated 100,000 of the 650,000 tons of consumer electronics being discarded every year. Municipalities are asked to collect a target 1 kg of consumer electronics per person each year, though many are collecting closer to 100 grams per person.

The idea of manufacturers taking more responsibility for the recycling of their products is often discussed as a potential solution for e-waste challenges. A recent Greenpeace East Asia survey found that nearly half of the respondents thought phone manufacturers in particular should be more responsible for making products recyclable.

*Original by Cole Rosengren - 2/2/17

How the Waste Management Phoenix Open became 'the greenest show on grass'

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Fibrex Group, Waste Management OpenWhat do you get when you mix Mark Wahlberg, Phil Mickelson, 600,000 golf fans and a team of recycling ambassadors in green smocks? The 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Since 2010 Waste Management has been the title sponsor of the Phoenix Open golf tournament, a weeklong event that attracts fans from far and wide to watch their favorite pros — and amateurs like Wahlberg, Michael Phelps and Bo Jackson — compete at the TPC Scottsdale golf course. With each year that passes, Waste Management has not only grown in attendance, but has also spread a passionate message of waste diversion and sustainability. This message has been so well received that Waste Management Phoenix Open (WMPO) has achieved five consecutive years of being a "zero waste" event, making it the largest sporting event of its kind to reach 100% waste diversion from landfill.

Yet, when there are half a million fans at an event, how does WMPO reach such a goal? According to the company's External Communications Manager Janette Micelli, it takes a lot of planning and committed participation from everyone involved. This includes the event's host The Thunderbirds, which is a special events committee developed by the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

"It really is a team effort," Micelli told Waste Dive. "It starts with the sponsors, the vendors, all of the people serving food and drinks out here. It's all of us together that are making it a zero waste event. It's attributable to, 'What's possible when you ignore the word impossible?' "

To the WMPO team, becoming the greenest show on grass was far from impossible. And with a variety of educational tactics, reuse strategies and the elimination of trash bins across the course, the team is making sure to reach zero waste again this year.

Educating fans on 'zero waste'

In order to inform the massive crowds on "zero waste" and how to attain it, WMPO has relied on just about every tactic in the book: media advertising, bus ads, signs and even zero waste "stations" placed throughout the event.

"You just have to flat out ignore things to not be educated here," Micelli laughed.

The stations, which are actually converted roll-off containers, allow fans to stand inside and learn about waste diversion through a "spin the wheel" type of game displaying a range of items. If the fan correctly guesses whether the item is recyclable or compostable, they receive a prize — of course, one that is practical like sunscreen, or sustainable like recycled content pencils.

WMPO depends on a volunteer team of "recycling ambassadors" to help run zero waste stations, interact with fans and answer all waste-related questions. This year, dedicated Waste Management staff and representatives from Keep Phoenix Beautiful and Keep Scottsdale Beautiful will assist the ambassadors to properly and effectively relay the message of sustainability.

Use and reuse, year after year

Outside of educating the public, it is also important for Waste Management and The Thunderbirds to practice their own methods of zero waste. While all of the event's signage and banners are stored year-to-year onsite, the organizations also engrain the message of reuse into some of the biggest attractions.

Most notably, WMPO has displayed two large water features on the 15th and 18th holes of the course's lake. At the 15th hole is a branded display of 750,000 recycled plastic golf tees – which has been stored for reuse over the last several years — and on the 18th hole is a 125-foot by 50-foot display of 144,000 recovered golf balls. Micelli notes that these displays offer a marketing opportunity for the company, yet still gives Waste Management the opportunity to explain the value of reusing materials.

It's not only golf tees and golf balls that have been recovered. Micelli notes that uneaten food is placed in the hands of the local nonprofit WasteNot which donates food to people in the Phoenix area. Additionally, all of the scrim that is displayed around the site gets donated to local organizations, including one that focuses on equine therapy and uses it as a shade structure for horses.

All of these efforts have led to WMPO's certification as the Council for Responsible Sport's "Inspire" event, an honor that followed nearly five years of the council attending and analyzing sustainability efforts at the Phoenix Open. As an Inspire event, WMPO is now responsible for mentoring other organizations on how to apply sustainable practices to events. This year, WMPO is mentoring the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) to pilot a new sustainable golf tournament certification, GEO Certified.

"Much like we aim to educate and inspire fans who attend the tournament on how to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover in their daily lives, through the Inspire program, we will now share our best practices with other events so they too can improve," said Michele Grossman, managing principal for Waste Management Sustainability Services, in a press statement.

Participation from the pros, vendors and everyone in between

With education in place and reuse efforts being practiced, it takes participation from fans, players vendors and celebrities to see the zero waste goal through. According to Micelli, the event sponsors even sign an Acceptable Materials Guidelines contract when teaming up for the event.

"The Thunderbirds have actually integrated into their contracts with sponsors and vendors that they ... have to agree to use all recyclable and compostable materials, and if they're offering a giveaway, it has to be something of value or something that would be recyclable or compostable if people decide to get rid of it while they're on course," Micelli said.

High-profile guests like Phelps and Jackson and other celebrities that Waste Management directly recruits for the pro-am are provided with messaging and expected to take note of Waste Management's mission. Additionally, WMPO has teamed with the Golf Channel for a campaign dubbed "Lessons With the Pros" so viewers — including many business executives — can learn lessons from golf pros or sustainability lessons from pros at Waste Management.

To seal the deal on participation, WMPO hosts a "Green Out" on Saturday during the tournament to encourage all fans to wear green apparel and accessories to show support of sustainability initiatives. For every person who participates in the Green Out, $1 is donated to one of three local charities.

"There are people who get really into it and kind of make a big fashion statement out of it," said Micelli.

The organizations to receive the donations — Arizona Recycling Coalition, Arizona Chapter of SWANA and the Change the Course Water Restoration program — all have environmental missions to increase diversion and promote sustainability. Micelli notes that in 2016, $80,000 was raised from the Green Out and split among the charities.

Preparing to do it all again

As soon as this year's Open is complete, the WMPO team will be back at work to analyze which education and waste diversion practices were most effective, survey attendees and write up a sustainability report.

"For the people who may not believe we're [achieving zero waste] again, it's recycling, compost, donation, storage for reuse or waste to energy for anything that absolutely doesn't make it through the line. That's how we do it," said Micelli.

And for attendees who want to continue waste diversion efforts when they leave the Open, Micelli encourages continued learning, engaging and practice beyond the boundaries of TPC Scottsdale.

"We like to say 'Learn it here, live it everywhere.' Take these things back to your homes, your businesses, your communities and really try to translate the value of simple things [like recycling]," she said. "Take a step back and think about the difference you can make each day."

Orginal by Kristin Musulin