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An Important Point About Product "Empties"

Joseph Coupal - Monday, September 19, 2016

Imagine this scenario: You're in the shower, squeezing out the last few drops of your shampoo. Without a thought, you toss the empty bottle into the tiny trash bin in your bathroom, mentally cheering yourself on for the slam dunk you just made. Maybe it didn't even cross your mind to save the bottle and stash it in your designated recycling bin. If this sounds familiar, you're not alone.

Only 14% of Americans recycle their bathroom empties, compared to a whopping 50% who recycle their kitchen empties, according to Unilever, the beauty conglomerate that owns brands like Dove, Simple, and Suave. This huge discrepancy has prompted the company to resurrect its "Rinse, Recycle, Reimagine" campaign to encourage consumers to take small steps toward preserving our planet. Who's the voice leading the charge? Candace Cameron Bure, of Full House and Fuller House fame.

"Only 14% of Americans actually recycle their bathroom empties and I wasn't one of them," admits Cameron Bure. "So, I thought this was a great campaign to help Americans like me rethink recycling and to not forget all those lotions, shampoos, body wash, and makeup containers...that we forget."

It's easier than you think. Many people believe that beauty products have to be cleaned thoroughly before you can recycle them, but that's actually not the case. "I never recycled bathroom products because you can't [always] get in to [clean] those containers," says Cameron Bure. "[But] all the containers go through a sanitation process [in the recycling plant] that cleans out everything." So, don't feel like you have to stress about that last drop of lotion in the bottle. "The process [breaks] down the material and they can become things like coats and other bottles," says Cameron Bure.

By partnering with Cameron Bure, Unilever hopes to spread awareness through social media (#RethinkRecycling). Although Unilever already uses recycled material in its brands' packaging, the company has also set an aggressive goal to dramatically increase recycled material content in the next four years.

So, before you upload a proud Insta or YouTube video of your product "empties," make sure you're taking steps to ensure those shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, and even makeup containers don't go to waste. Whether it's keeping a dedicated recycling bin in your bathroom or simply disposing of your recyclables in your kitchen's blue bin, the small steps you take make a big difference.

*Original By: Mi-Anne Chan http://www.refinery29.com

New ‘Waste Sharks’ will eat all the trash in Rotterdam’s waters

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The port of Rotterdam will soon feature a new marine resident. The "Waste Shark," a drone roughly the size of your average car, will float around the port’s waters keeping an eye out for trash which it can “eat” for processing.

The city of Rotterdam, Holland has been making a lot of effort in the past few years to lessen its environmental impact, and the port hasn’t been overlooked. Under the startup program PortXL, the city’s port authority has also been promoting new solutions to help make it more efficient, more sustainable, and overall just a better place. At the conclusion of the program’s first year, the port signed an agreement with South-African startup RanMarine to deploy a new drone on its waters — the Waste Shark.

The Port of Rotterdam has already announced one drone resident — the AquasmartXL, a small unmanned boat equipped with a camera that allows real-time inspection and surveillance of the water surface. But where the AquasmartXL is the eyes of Rotterdam, the Waste Shark will be its mouth. This drone is roughly the size of a car and can eat up to 500 kilograms (1102 pounds) of trash using a ‘mouth’ 35 cm under the water line. It will “fight ‘plastic soup’ at the source as 90% of all waste in the ocean starts in urban areas,” PortXL’s page reads.

Allard Castelein, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Rotterdam Authority said that the Rotterdam Port Authority is determined to explore all avenues of innovation, as stated in their operational philosophy.

“Innovation cannot be forced. However, you can create an environment in which innovation is likely to take place and be in line with the market,” he said.

“We support research in conjunction with universities, such as the Port Innovation Lab with the Delft University of Technology and of course our own Erasmus University in Rotterdam. And we collaborate with contests for students. In addition, we support Dutch start-ups that are relevant to the port, but we also scout worldwide via PortXL; the first accelerator that focuses on port start-ups on a global level.”

The contract requires four Waste Sharks to scour the waters for the next six months as part of a test run for the drones. They will operate in areas where it is too difficult, dangerous, or undesirable to use manned solutions. This includes under jetties, bridges and other structures.

Original by: Alexandru Micu - www.zimescience.com

Will paper recycling survive the evolution of the digital era?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, September 08, 2016

As the digital age continues to evolve, the paper industry is in an extended transitional period.

Paper recycling access is nearly universal, though not without challenges — like the inevitable decrease in the consumption of many paper products. In an effort to turn this around, manufacturers and recyclers have started getting creative to ensure this nearly 2,000-year-old material still has an important role to play in an increasingly digital world.

Stabilizing the industry is seen as such a priority that a federal check-off program — more commonly used for food commodities — was formed in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program, called the Paper and Packaging Board (P+PB),  is supported by a majority of large paper companies and funded by an assessment on domestic manufacturers and importers of paper goods. The four categories covered by the program are printing and writing papers, Kraft, containerboard and paperboard.

Maintaining the value of paper products

P+PB's estimated $25 million annual budget is used to raise awareness around paper products, starting with the "How Life Unfolds" campaign. Launched last year across a variety of platforms, the creative campaign highlights how playing, writing letters, reading books, writing and other daily activities are all intertwined with paper products.

"We see the resilience and reusability of paper and packaging products as a key source of their value to people," said Joan Sahlgren, P+PB's director of relations, in an email. "Paper and packaging products usually lead more than one life before they head to the recycling bin."

According to P+PB, consumption of packaging and paperboard has decreased by 56 pounds per person in the U.S. since 2000. National data and local waste characterization studies show a decline in tonnages for many paper products as well. And while paper still makes up more of the recyclable stream by weight than all other materials combined(except steel), these shifts have also affected the recycling industry.

"Recovery is a function of the marketplace," said Brian Hawkinson, executive director of recovered fiber for the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA).

Hawkinson said that newspapers accounted for only 5.2% of recovered fiber in 2015, as compared to about 15% in 2007. Yet, while the digital shift may have led more people to read news on their devices, it has also led them to order more items from online shopping. Hawkinson notes corrugated containers were up to 68.6% in 2015 from 59% in 2007.

According to AF&PA data, recovery rates for corrugated containers also reached a record high of 92.9% last year. Additionally, recovery rates for paper and paperboard were at a record high of 66.8% and moving upward toward AF&PA’s goal of 70% by 2020.

While that recovery rate has nearly doubled since 1990, its climb has been much more gradual in recent years and keeping up the trend could be challenging.

"Increasing recovery for recycling is a function of having the infrastructure in place and then having the people who have access to recovery participate," said Hawkinson, adding that it’s crucial for residents to "reduce contamination and put the best quality recyclable materials in the carts and bins in their communities."

Community participation

AF&PA has been working with organizations such as The Recycling Partnership to help make sure this infrastructure is strong and recovering the best quality material possible. An estimated 96% of people in the U.S. now have access to some form of paper recycling, but a large amount of the material is still being sent to landfills.

Keefe Harrison, the Recycling Partnership’s executive director, estimates there may be 46 million tons of recyclable paper and packaging in homes that isn't getting recovered. More than one-third of fiber used by manufacturers now comes from recycled sources and is a valuable commodity that needs to be captured.

"We work to serve the whole supply chain because we want to get more paper and other materials flowing through," said Harrison.

The Recycling Partnership sees cart collection, often in a single-stream system, as the best way to do this. Lidded carts help prevent paper from blowing away or getting wet and are often more convenient for residents and workers. The organization has helped improve recycling access for thousands of residents in more than a hundred communities across the country in an effort to recover larger amounts of paper and other items.

Harrison noted the composition of recyclables has changed greatly in the past decade and the growing amount of new materials such as cartons means it will likely continue to do so in the future.

"The whole industry changes because packaging changes, because print media changes, and we all have to be nimble and evolve," she said.

Will paper always have a place in the market?

As these changes persist, P+PB will be continuing its efforts to reframe the conversation around paper until at least 2021, when members will vote whether to continue the program.

The organization noted its commitment to "stewardship" of forests and paper resources, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive recycling education as part of that agenda.

"For decades there has been a lot of misinformation out there, leading to unnecessary guilt about using paper and paper-based packaging products," wrote Sahlgren. "Sometimes it gets lost that our products are some of the most recycled in the world, and that we’re continually setting new records for how much pulp we recover."

Some estimates have projected that global paper consumption will increase in the coming years and categories such as corrugated continue to be some of the most valuable in the waste stream. While items like phone books may be a thing of the past, it seems likely that paper will still be part of the future.

Original By WasteDive - September 8, 2016

GameDay Recycling Challenge 2016

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The GameDay Recycling Challenge is a nationwide competition among universities to reduce and recycle the waste generated at home football games. During each competition cycle, participating schools report recycling, compost and attendance data for at least one home football game. In 2015, 99 schools rallied fans to recycle an impressive 2.1 million pounds of bottles, cans, paper, cardboard and more, and compost 457,000 pounds of food organics from football stadiums and tailgating areas while also raising awareness and inspiring action around waste reduction.

The GameDay Recycling Challenge is administered by the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC), RecycleMania, Keep America Beautiful and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise.

Officials from the US EPA, Keep America Beautiful, CURC and RecycleMania were on hand to recognize the national winners of the 2015 competition at the Green Sports Alliance Summit in Houston on June 29, 2015.Check out the full 2015 Results.

Diversion Rate Champion: Ohio University – 95% diversion
Total Recycling Champion: Louisiana State University – 86,000+ pounds recycled

Is “Going Green” Unmanly?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, September 01, 2016

The issue: Green labels that promise consumers their purchases are eco-friendly appear on all sorts of goods these days, from yogurts to urinals. The label can mean many things: The item has sustainable packaging. It’s organically grown. It’s locally made. Or it is just a little less damaging to the planet. With growing concern from government officials and others about pollution and climate change, going green is a hot marketing strategy.

But is the push to be more environmentally friendly working?

Scholars have found that men tend to litter more, recycle less, have a larger carbon footprint, and feel less responsible than women for environmentally destructive behavior. In general, environmental concerns are more associated with femininity than masculinity, according to a 2011 study by the public-relations firm Ogilvy & Mather that has been repeatedly cited in academic research.

So how can men be encouraged to recycle?

An academic study worth reading: “Is Eco-Friendly Unmanly? The Green-Feminine Stereotype and Its Effect on Sustainable Consumption,” published in the Journal of Consumer Research, August 2016.

Study summary: Aaron Brough, an assistant professor of marketing at Utah State University, and James E.B. Wilkie, an assistant professor of business at the University of Notre Dame, led a study that examines why men are less likely than women to engage in so-called green behaviors. Brough, Wilkie and their colleagues hypothesize that men are more likely to avoid green behavior “in order to safeguard their gender identity.” This group of scholars draws on previous research, which shows not only that concern for the environment is stereotypically associated with femininity, but that “men tend to be more concerned than women with gender-identity maintenance.”

Women’s greater concerns about the environment — an effect that has been documented across age groups and countries — may be because women have been associated with more concern with the future and health. Brough, Wilkie and colleagues sought to understand the underlying reasons for men’s un-green behavior. They designed seven experiments — including one carried out in China — to gauge whether male behaviors can be changed.

Findings:

  • Men are more likely to donate to an environmental non-profit organization that has an overtly masculine logo or branding than to an organization that is perceived as being feminine. Such an effect was not recorded in women.
  • Men are less likely than women to buy products marketed as environmentally friendly, or “green.”
  • Both men and women perceive consumers who buy green products and make efforts to recycle as more feminine.
  • Both men and women view green products as less masculine than non-green versions of the same products.
  • Women are unlikely to be concerned if packaging looks masculine.
  • Men’s disinclination for green behavior “may be partially explained by an association between green behavior and femininity that threatens the gender identity of men.”
  • Men are more likely to avoid green products in public as well as in private, suggesting they are concerned both with managing judgments of themselves, as well as their own self-perception.

Other resources for journalists writing about this issue:

Activist groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund — which successfully lobbied McDonald’s to stop using polystyrene containers — Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council list detailed information on their websites about environmental threats and ways to help.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosts resources dedicated to its Congressionally mandated mission: “to protect human health and the environment.”

There are a number of for-profit and non-profit organizations — including the U.S. Small Business Administration, a government agency — that offer guidance on how to utilize environmental concerns in marketing campaigns.

Other useful research:

The Pew Research Center regularly conducts polls on Americans’ attitudes toward the environment and sustainability. AnApril 2016 poll found Americans split by political party on how much the government should make environmental protection a priority. Ninety percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans say the United States should “do whatever it takes to protect the environment.” (In 1994, Pew found 85 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement.) Most Americans recycle at least sometimes, according to the 2016 poll, and 39 percent identify as environmentalists.

*Original by: David Trilling | August 24, 2016

More Stadiums Are Going Green In USA

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When you think of an American football stadium, certain imagery comes to mind — lights bright enough to turn night into day, parking lots sprawled over areas large enough to accommodate thousands of vehicles, game day traffic, and food in Styrofoam and plastic packaging. It’s not exactly the most eco-friendly mental picture.

But a modern American football stadium is no longer simply a venue in which to watch a game. Stadiums must now be multi-purpose, able to accommodate luxury and VIP seating and suites and a wide variety of food and beverage options, with space and facilities to hold concerts, rallies, and other large-scale events.

With so much going on in their stadiums year-round, many teams are ramping up their efforts to go green, transitioning to the use of technology and innovative designs that have a lower impact on the natural environment. Some stadiums, in particular, have made some incredibly cool changes recently.

Going Green

The Philadelphia Eagles are recognizable by their “midnight green” color, so adopting acampaign called Go Green within their home; Lincoln Financial Field seems only natural. The campaign, launched in 2003, has three simple components — recycling, conserving and purchasing green technology.

Recent changes to “The Linc” include the installation of 11,000 solar panels on and around the stadium. They are located on the outer sides of the structure and on the roof.

Even better are the 8,100 panels located in the stadium’s parking lots, which are elevated from the ground so vehicles can park in their shade while they help to generate power. On a sunny day, the panels have been known to provide over 21,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

That’s almost enough to power two average American homes for a full year, and it’s more than six times more power than what is needed on a game day. And when there’s no game? The stadium is actually putting power back into the grid.

Giving Back

Recycling containers are placed frequently throughout the stadium, and there is signage that encourages patrons to recycle. The stadium has reduced its water use, employs biodiesel cooking oil and uses recycled, compostable food packaging. Even the cheerleaders’ calendar has gone digital to save paper. Other teams are pursuing similar green endeavors.

At CenturyLink Field, home of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the MLS’s Seattle Sounders, 3,750 solar panels take up multiple acres of space on the roof. The Twins’ home stadium, Target Field, collects rainwater that gets used to wash down the stadium seating. In sweltering Miami, the Heat stay cool in American Airlines Stadium thanks to a reflective roof and underground parking that help them save on air conditioning costs.

The recently constructed Levi’s Stadium, where the San Francisco 49ers play, sports not only solar panels but also a green roof covered in plant life covering its luxury suites.

Attractive Design and Installation

The Linc also sports 14 wind turbines said to be in the shape of eggbeaters. These are not nearly as efficient as the thousands of solar panels in the stadium, but they can be seen from outside the stadium on the neighboring highways.

This brings the team’s green efforts even further into the public eye.

Any stadium can easily install solar panels using boom and scissor lifts. A ring of solar LED panels top MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and Jets. While it’s not necessarily efficient, the teams made the effort to have these panels light up blue when the Giants are playing and green when it’s the Jets.

Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field is home to a 30-foot sculpture of “Solar Man,” a football player made entirely from solar panels. It’s efforts such as these that fans can get excited about, and excitement about green building in sports is key in moving toward expanding green building in other sectors.

Setting the Tone

Sports may not seem all that important when there are issues such as climate change that we need to address — but no one can deny they are a cultural phenomenon. People get passionate about sports, which is why teams’ efforts to go green are a big deal.

Sports are a part of a huge business with a lot of influence on fans — 59 percent of Americans identify as sports fans. These fans take note of the efforts stadiums put in to reduce their environmental impact, and when they visit a green stadium, they get to see personally the innovations in clean energy production, water conservation, waste management and efficiency in action.

So far, of 126 pro teams in 5 major U.S. sports, 38 use renewable energy, 68 have energy efficiency programs, and virtually all have recycling/composting. Because of efforts of these teams, sports have become a unique platform for green building, green education, and green infrastructure advocacy.

*Original posted by Megan Ray Nichols – www.pollutionpollution.com/2016/04/stadiums-going-green-usa.html

A Look at Recycling's Role in Fight Against Climate Change

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Curbside recycling can put additional collection trucks on the road. But the recycling process ultimately brings environmental benefits that far outweigh the extra vehicle emissions, according to a study from Waste Management.

The publicly traded hauling giant's research shows the greenhouse gas harm brought by extra routes needed for recycling collection pales in comparison to the environmental benefits materials recovery creates by offsetting manufacturers' need to use virgin resources.

"While many of us have heard reference to that in the past, actually seeing it was really stunning to us," Susan Robinson, federal public affairs director at Waste Management (WM), said on a recent webinar. WM's study aimed to quantify the financial costs and greenhouse gas reduction benefits of the company's various waste management strategies. Robinson and Rob Hallenbeck, a strategic analyst at WM, discussed the study during an Aug. 9 webcast presented by GreenBiz.

Comparing range of strategies

WM began with a theoretical baseline scenario assuming all collected material goes to landfill, with some degree of gas-recovery occurring. Then the model added in the following scenarios: improved gas-capture technology, residential single-stream recycling, commercial single-stream recycling, yard debris composting, food scraps composting/anaerobic digestion, materials recovery facility (MRF) residuals processing, and gasification of post-recycling residuals.

The company found some of the strategies were more expensive than others – that is, they required more dollars per million metric tons of greenhouse gas reduced. The best bang for the buck came from landfill gas recovery and residential and commercial recycling. Organics processing and other conversion technologies cost more per million metric tons of gas reduced.

Hallenbeck said a best-in-class recycling program – their model was based on systems in place in Portland, Ore. and Seattle – can produce an 84 percent reduction in greenhouse gases compared with the baseline scenario. Those greenhouse gas gains were tied to the fact recycling allows manufacturers to use recycled feedstock instead of virgin resources.

Focus on smaller pool of materials?

WM also explored the comparative benefits and costs of recycling different materials. The results showed the recycling of paper, metals and plastic bottles offer the most greenhouse gas benefits per dollar spent.

"[The numbers show] the logical order of materials to recycle based on economics and greenhouse gas reduction potential," Hallenbeck said.

Meanwhile, WM's analysis showed high cost and small greenhouse gas benefits in recycling glass. It also showed comparatively high costs for the greenhouse gas benefits of food scraps composting and anaerobic digestion. Robinson said the numbers underscore the need for upstream food waste reduction.

The study results bolster the argument the industry should focus on recycling a few materials with high environmental benefits, allowing MRFs to produce cleaner streams for manufacturing, Robinson said. She added the results can help WM and its customers start to think more holistically and not just chase weight-based goals. "It gives us a different lens for how we make decisions around recycling, let alone the rest of the stream," she said.

By Jared Paben, Resource Recycling - August 16, 2016

Would Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton be best for the future of waste and recycling?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 09, 2016

It's unlikely that we'll hear either of the two main presidential candidates — GOP candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton — debating the finer points of single-stream recycling or anaerobic digestion on the campaign trail. Yet whoever wins in November will affect the waste industry for the next four to eight years — and campaign donations show that companies are paying attention. While most waste regulation happens on the state and local level, federal policy lays the groundwork and can still have big implications.

Looking at the last eight years, we've seen how a president can affect the industry. As part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released new methane emissions standards for landfills that relate to sites across the country. The EPA has also set the big goal of reducing food waste 50% by 2030 and has been active on a number of other sustainability issues. Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 and has followed the annual tradition of issuing a presidential proclamation for America Recycles Day. In 2010, he used the day to reference the need for better e-waste management.

The 2016 Democratic Party Platform doesn't have any explicit references to waste and recycling, however it does have multiple pages on climate change, clean energy, and environmental justice — including the belief that "carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities." In a speech at the 2014 Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries convention, Hillary Clinton lauded the recycling industry for "driving innovation and resource efficiency," and said it "offers a chance to improve the environment and stimulate the economy at the same time." The Clinton Global Initiative has also funded a number of waste-related projects.

The 2016 Republican Platform advocates for less government involvement in the environment: "The central fact of any sensible environmental policy is that, year by year, the environment is improving ... As a nation, we have drastically reduced pollution, mainstreamed recycling, educated the public, and avoided ecological degradation." The platform calls for turning the EPA into "an independent bipartisan commission, similar to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission" and forbidding the agency from regulating carbon dioxide. On a broader level, the platform rejects both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement and Donald Trump has questioned the validity of climate science.

At this point, it is assumed Clinton would continue many of Obama's environmental policies and Trump would take such policies in a different direction. For these reasons — not to mention labor and economic policies — the next president will influence waste and recycling in a significant way.

*Original by Cole Rosengren | August 3, 2016 www.wastedive.com

What would the Pokemon Go of sustainability look like?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Pokemon Go app has taken the world by storm. Could the same technology be used to help save the world?

You can find them just about anywhere — stampeding in New York’s Central Park, taking overtowns near North Korea and braving minefields in Bosnia: Pokemon Go users trying to catch 'em all.

For those still wondering, the smartphone game uses augmented reality technology to allow users to "catch" Pokemon, fantastical digital monsters with peculiar names, in the real world — at the park, in a bar, in a corporate office, wherever Google Maps works. Users can collect these monsters and use them to "battle" other users at specially designated "Pokemon gyms," encouraging real people to interact in person through the app.

And while most are young people, more than 40 percent of the adults who downloaded the mobile app are older than 25, and about one in three adult users are women, according to data from StartApp. They are your coworkers, bosses, doctors, Lyft drivers, lawyers — maybe even your mother.

As they search frantically for fictional monsters, Pokemon Go users have faced real-world consequences — discovering dead bodies, being robbed at gunpoint by tech-savvy criminals and even breaking into power plants and causing traffic accidents.

Granted, the app also has generated some positive outcomes for its users and others — such as getting otherwise sedentary people out into the real world, bringing strangers together and raising revenues for businesses lucky enough to be near Pokemon hot spots. The app also has made some would-be Pokemon masters into real-world animal rescuers.

"I’d say that playing Pokemon Go has helped me to talk more with my coworkers and even new people who I normally wouldn’t talk to. I’ve enjoyed just talking with people at work about what Pokemon they’ve caught," said Martha Arbogast, a digital designer in Cleveland.

"I took a walk around Lake Merritt just to do Pokemon Go," said my friend Clara Ng-Quinn, of Oakland, Calif. "Before, I'd only go out to the lake to go on a run. I don't do Pokemon Go during runs, though … too many distractions."

Valerie Sarni, a friend in Atlanta, told me: "Pokemon Go definitely gives me additional motivation to go farther/longer/explore somewhere new. And yes, I will admit that I've even stopped backseat driving my husband to go faster because his ‘slow and steady’ pace is perfect for hitting up passing Pokestops."

Love it or hate it, Pokemon Go shows how digital technology can be an agent of behavior change — getting people to do things they otherwise might not do. As the endless stories of Pokemon Go mayhem filled up my social media feeds, I got to thinking: What would the "Pokemon Go of sustainability" look like?

Sure, gamification is nothing new in the world of sustainability. Timberland's "Serv-a-palooza Challenge," a six-week experiment conducted in collaboration with the CrowdRise fundraising community, raised more than $75,000 and inspired more than 1,600 volunteer hours toward sustainability and community causes. Likewise, WeSpire offers an engagement platform used by companies including CA Technologies, EnerNOC, MGM Resorts International, McDonald's and Unilever.

But could we develop a single app that achieves the same kind of global reach as Pokemon Go that actually helps individuals improve sustainability outcomes?

Community creates a tipping point

Day in and day out, corporate sustainability professionals toil at getting individuals, organizations and systems to do things that they otherwise might not do — such as favoring long-term value over short-term gain, promoting quality over quantity, averting the tragedy of the commons and moving beyond competition to collaboration. And changing the status quo is a lot harder than snatching a Snorlax in a sewer.

Author Malcolm Gladwell calls these special moments — when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire — "tipping points."

"If you want to bring a fundamental change in people's belief and behavior … you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured," wrote Gladwell in his book, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference."

Certainly, the developers of Pokemon Go have succeeded in creating a community of shared interest. Cities are large, lonely places where many feel alone and isolated — despite being more connected than ever by technology. You might not know your neighbors or the name of the girl who makes your latte each morning, but thanks to Pokemon Go you can feel instantly connected to those random people loitering near the church — which often are used as Pokemon training gyms.

Creating a sense of community already ranks highly on to-do lists of corporate sustainability professionals and municipal leaders alike. Many of our current social and environmental challenges are rooted in the selfish pursuit of individual gain at the community’s expense. Addressing climate change, rising inequality and environmental decay will require creating an unprecedented sense of community on a global scale.

The Pokemon Go of sustainability would need to be highly social and create a strong sense of community that brings diverse stakeholders together. In order to transform people’s mindsets from "me" to "we," the app would need to create shared value as the measure of success.

Embrace emotion alongside logic

While their methods may diverge, corporate sustainability professionals can agree that logic is on their side. The status quo is killing our planet and putting future prosperity at risk — and if we don’t change, we are all screwed, so to speak.

But, as stoic Spock learns in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," logic isn’t something humans are good at. After Spock comments that it was not logical for humans to hunt humpback whales to extinction (which leads to a world-killing murder probe attacking Earth centuries later), Dr. Gillian Taylor responds: "Whoever said the human race was logical?"

Modern neuroscientific research tells us that humans aren’t rational decision makers but emotional ones. We make irrational decisions all the time, whether it’s regarding whom to marry, which candidate to vote for or even who to hire. More often than not, we go with our "gut," with what "feels right."

But that doesn’t mean that rational thought is somehow superior to emotion; going full-fledged Vulcan isn’t the best route to make truly ethical choices. And research shows that people don’t make better decisions when they are emotionally disengaged — in fact, they can’t make decisions at all without emotion. Spock would be shocked, but emotions are fundamental to effective action, and positive emotions are much more potent than negative ones.

This is where corporate sustainability communicators, including yours truly, often have gone awry. Because we feel that logic is on our side, we bludgeon people with it. Bluntness leads to fear and fear leads to hate, which in turn leads to the Dark Side, as an old Muppet once said. Humanity’s greatest moments — from landing a man on the moon to the Civil Rights movement — were fostered by hope rather than fear.

People don’t abandon couches and cubicles to capture Pidgeottos because it’s logical, but because it makes them feel good. As people increasingly feel powerless to control their social, environmental and economic destinies, the prospect of "catching them all" may present an ideal that they can strive toward — and somehow reclaim their place as active and equal participants in the affairs of the world.

The Pokemon Go of sustainability must inspire action by melding the best attributes of logic and emotion — helping people to understand all that is at stake while also empowering them to do something about it. All of humanity’s latent potential rests in a reservoir of hope — and figuring out how to tap into this ultimately will save the world.

Create a sense of urgency

One of humanity’s biggest hurdles to taking meaningful action on climate change and other long-term social and environmental problems is rooted in our DNA — we evolved to respond to immediate problems such as outrunning that cheetah, finding shelter before a storm and locating a watering hole. For most of our time on this planet, "long-term" planning was measured in weeks and months, not decades and centuries.

That’s why we respond to immediate, less likely threats, such as terrorism, but drag our feet preempting more probable but distant dangers such as climate change, according to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert. Think of the old frog in the pot scenario — throw a frog into boiling water and it will immediately jump out, but place it in a pot of cold water and slowly increase the temperature to a boil and, well… we all know how it usually turns out for the frog.

In a way, Pokemon Go creates a sense of urgency for its users by programming Pokemon to pop up in special locations for brief periods of time. Users know that, if they fail to hop that fence, violate basic traffic laws or break into that nuclear family’s yard, their opportunity to capture a Caterpie could be gone forever.

"Pokemon Go got me to happily walk headlong into the hellhole that is Pier 39 on a summery Sunday afternoon," said my cousin, Alaina Hower, who is 24 and should have known better. Apparently, it was more urgent than calling her big cousin to let him know she was in town.

"The reason I was in San Francisco yesterday was to farm enough Magikarp for a Gyarados. Haters gonna hate," she explained.

The Pokemon Go of sustainability would need to generate a sense of urgency for taking more socially and environmentally friendly actions. Somehow, it would need to distill long-term environmental threats into smaller, more immediate challenges that seem actionable and appeal to users’ evolutionary preferences.

If you can’t beat 'em, join 'em?

Maybe we're kidding ourselves, and the Pokemon Go of sustainability is as unlikely as stumbling across a leveled-up Vaporeon in Venice. Creating a single app capable of making a meaningful dent on individuals’ environmental behaviors might be beyond our current digital and mental programming capabilities.

But what if we settled with making Pokemon Go itself more sustainable? Rather than trying to compete with popular game apps, what if developers seamlessly could integrate functions that made users more eco-friendly without them even realizing it?

Pokemon Go could give credits for in-app purchases to users who bike or take public transit to school or work; reward users with rare Pokemon after participating in a park cleanup or volunteering at a soup kitchen; or maybe even give opportunities for upgrades when eco-friendly purchases are made. At the very least, it could use the love of fictional animals to spread awareness that half of the world’s actual animals have gone extinct in the past 40 years. (Sorry, there I go being bluntly logical again — old habits die hard.)

Heck, we could at least try to sell solar-powered battery chargers for Pokemon Go enthusiasts frustrated by their big Poke-ambitions and small smartphone batteries.

Whatever route we take, the sophistication of augmented reality and digital apps likely will escalate quicker than we can address our mounting social and environmental challenges. It’s time for a new generation of innovators to harness digital technology’s potential for instigating meaningful social and environmental behavioral change. Several socially and environmentally-focused apps already are sprouting up, including iRecycle, Zero Carbon and JouleBug.

We still have a long way to go — maybe we’ll get there once we’ve caught them all.

*Original by: Mike Hower - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Study Shows PET Bottle RecyclingPprograms Widely Available

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Commissioned by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, study reports 92 percent of U.S. population has access to beverage container recycling programs.

Most Americans have access to recycling programs that accept beverage containers, according to a study commissioned by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), Charlottesville, Virginia, with participation from SPI: The Plastics Trade Association, Washington.

The study, “2015-16 Centralized Study on Availability of Recycling for Beverage Containers,” identifies the prevalence of recycling programs that accept beverage containers, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, jugs and jars, used aluminum beverage cans (UBCs), glass beverage bottles and cartons. The findings on PET show that 92 percent of the U.S. population can recycle PET bottles, jugs and jars.

“It’s important to make recycling available to consumers. The more convenient we can make recycling for consumers, the more people will recycle,” says George Southworth, director of industry affairs— Rigid Plastic Packaging Group (RPPG) and Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Applications Committee (PMDAC) at SPI. “This study shows many Americans have the resources they need to recycle, so it’s up to us to keep educating and advocating for more effective recycling.”

The study further breaks down the availability of recycling by the type of recycling available and finds that 54 percent of U.S. residents have automatic/universal curbside recycling of PET bottles, jugs and jars. The other curbside programs were opt-in, which is available to 6 percent of the population, and subscription, which is available to 8 percent of the population. In total, 68 percent of U.S. residents have some sort of curbside recycling available, according to the study. Drop-off programs are available to 24 percent of the U.S. population and, when combined with the curbside recycling availability, totals 92 percent of all programs—curbside and its subsidiaries and drop-off programs—available to the U.S. population.

The study was commissioned by the SPC and conducted by Resource Recycling Systems and Moore Recycling Associates. Other project sponsors included the Can Manufacturers Institute, Carton Council, Glass Packaging Institute, National Association for PET Container Resources and The Aluminum Association.

**Original July 29, 2016 – by Recycling Today Staff