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Northwestern Rolls Out Mixed-Recycling Program to Reduce Waste

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Northwestern has switched from separated recycling to mixed recycling as part of its goal to reduce the University’s landfill waste by 20 percent by 2020.

Although it will take several months to change labels on recycling bins in all common areas throughout campus, bins previously designated specifically for disposal of glass, paper or cans can now be used for all of those recyclable materials.

The new system should streamline recycling for students as well as for the office’s recycling collection and bin distribution.

“If you’re walking around campus with a can and can only find a paper bin, that will no longer be an issue,” said Julie Cahillane, a manager in the Office of Sustainability.

The Office of Sustainability has been considering a switch to mixed recycling for several years. The school decided Winter Quarter would be the best time to implement the program because it would allow students to become accustomed to the system before spring break.

 “We’ll have hopefully a big hit and a lot of visibility and a lot of attention to it before spring break, and then there’ll still be a bit of time afterwards before students leave for the year.”

The mixed recyclables will now be taken by the University’s contracted recycling hauler to a transfer station, where they will be combined with other recyclables from the area before being delivered to the processing center where they are sorted.

The project will make it easier for NU students to reduce waste.

It’s just simpler. Surprisingly few people took the time to split it up the way it was, so anything to make it easier is just going to increase recycling.

NU generates more than 5,300 tons of waste annually, recycling more than 1,800 tons of that total. Cahillane said she hopes a move to mixed recycling will increase how much waste the University collects to recycle, decreasing the amount it sends to landfills.

Bob Sherman, co-president of NU Eco-Reps — a group of student representatives who promote sustainability on campus — said he hopes the office’s big push to alert students about the change will raise awareness of recycling and sustainability on campus.

“It was a good strategy for them to make it a big announcement and get people talking about it in a way that they might not have been if it had been a more incremental approach,” Sherman said. “Hopefully we can also use this as a tool to educate people about different sustainability issues.”

For more information on  mixed recycling containers for universities, contact Fibrex Group.


Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 11, 2016

RecycleMania Mission:  Using fair and friendly competition, RecycleMania provides tools and opportunities that inspire, empower, and mobilize colleges and universities to benchmark and improve efforts to reduce or eliminate waste.

RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Starting this week and continuing over an 8-week period each spring, colleges across the United States and Canada report the amount of recycling and trash collected each week and are in turn ranked in various categories based on who recycles the most on a per capita basis, as well as which schools have the best recycling rate as a percentage of total waste and which schools generate the least amount of combined trash and recycling.  With each week’s updated ranking, participating schools follow their performance against other colleges and use the results to rally their campus to reduce and recycle more.

National recognition is provided to the winning school in each category on the RecycleMania website and in a national press release. Winning schools receive an award made out of recyclable materials, and win the right to host that category’s special traveling trophy for the coming year.

Overall Goals for RecycleMania

  1. Motivate students and staff to increase recycling efforts and reduce waste generation.
  2. Generate attention and support for campus recycling programs.
  3. Encourage colleges to measure and benchmark recycling activity in their effort to improve their programs over time.
  4. Have a fair and friendly competition.

Best of luck to all the participating schools!

*Courtesy of

Will You Be A Green Valentine?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Outside of the chocolates, roses and dinner reservations, there are many ways to green your Valentine's Day. Be it a date spent out in nature, or an eco-friendly gift idea, check out some of these ways to show the earth you love her too!

  • Make a romantic, organically candle lit dinner at home. It's cheaper, less stress of finding a reservation at the right place, and perfectly private - ooh lala!
  • Make your own cards or support a local artist who hand makes cards from recycled materials. Also shop online at spots like Tiny Prints.
  • Buy and give a locally, organic grown plant. Your loved one will be able to enjoy it a lot longer than expensive flowers that will wilt as soon as the clock strikes midnight on the 15th ; ) Or better yet, plant a tree and as your love grows, the tree will be a reminder of when the seed was planted!
  • Opt for local, organic, fair trade and/or vegan chocolates. Not only are they healthier for your body, they are healthier for the earth and its inhabitants!
  • Instead of the usual dinner date, go on a hike and pack a picnic. Get out in nature and enjoy a delicious meal overlooking a gorgeous view!
  • Book a retreat in a wildlife reserve, park or natural area. Your business will help support the running of such establishments.
  • Ice skating on a frozen lake. Well, be sure it's safe but it's a highly fun and romantic way to enjoy the season.
  • Volunteer! You and your main squeeze can share your love with others by making a date to help an organization in need. Be it helping out at an animal shelter or habitat for humanity, nothing is more fulfilling then helping others.
  • Sow the seeds of love. Spend the day planting an organic garden. This way you enjoy a mutual activity and get to enjoy the health, eco and budget benefits all year long!

No matter if you've got a honey or not, be sure to make it a day full of love and fun!

*Original by Carolyn Scott

3 Super Bowl waste stats TV announcers might miss

Joseph Coupal - Friday, February 05, 2016

90% diversion rate, 155 tons of trash, $200K grant

The Super Bowl, with all of its hype and marketing and partying, has morphed into a massively resource-intensive, waste-generating landfill clogger, producing tons of leftover burgers, greasy cheese-coated plates, and peanut shells every year — not to mention building and decoration debris.

But the National Football League has been working to scale back its carbon footprint for 23 years, starting with one simple plan at Super Bowl XXVIII held in Atlanta. Since then, the sporting event's environmental initiative has recovered 155 tons of trash that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill.

Last year, Phoenix achieved a more than 80% waste diversion from trash generated during days of Super Bowl XLIX kick off events, according to the NFL. And it piloted a first ever-compost program at the stadium on Game Day, as hosting stadium MetLife in New Jersey did the previous year. As far as plans for Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, the NFL and Super Bowl Host Committee have been getting prepared for the past year.

Plans underway for Santa Clara game

What has spun out into an elaborate, well-orchestrated initiative draws support from Verizon, the host region's utility companies, transportation agencies, local food banks, Pepsi, and sports clothing retailer Under Armour, among other players.

Recalling the NFL's first stab at a greener Super Bowl — a recycling drop-off at the Georgia Dome — Jack Groh, NFL Environmental Program Director, said: "It was the first such project that we know about in any major sports facility in the United States. And it was at a time when the only environmental issues in front of the public were recycling and pollution. Things like global warming had not yet appeared in [mainstream] consciousness."

"We now have a comprehensive program that addresses ... sustainability and environmental impact, including solid waste diversion ... reuse and remanufacture ... [and] renewable energy to power event facilities," he said.

A large collaboration

Every year, the Super Bowl Host Committee, which includes local business and community leaders, collaborates with the NFL to carry on the Super Bowl green legacy, providing logistical and financial support. In addition to the committee, this year's backers are San Francisco's Bike Coalition, schools, Pacific Gas & Electric, the Emergency Transportation Authority, and three-year sponsor Verizon — to name a few.

Stakeholders are launching kick-off events to pump not only the game, but also the environment. Some are elbow-deep planting what will be 28,000 trees along San Francisco Bay's watershed, which provides the region’s drinking water. There's also a coastal cleanup going on to pull trash from parks, wetlands, and storm drains to protect the San Francisco Bay and ocean.

"With more than 1 million Bay Area visitors expected, San José is preparing to be a major hub of activity," said San José Council Member Raul Peralez. "One of our objectives is to leverage Big Game opportunities such as the cleanup campaign to create lasting benefits for a cleaner, safer city.  Our hope is that even after the game leaves, our residents and visitors will continue to see the benefits from the program for years to come."

Besides the planting and cleanup in full swing now, folks are collecting and sorting mounds of donated items to be distributed to low-income kids. A recycling rally opened to the public with a dedicated electronic waste drop off site. And fans are logging onto the Host Committee's website to make "net positive" pledges to offset their carbon footprint, which undoubtedly will climb on Game Day if they join the party. They will ultimately decide allocation of $200,000 from the Sustainable Environments Game Changer Grant.

Fast forward to game day

The masses will flood through the gates of Levi's Stadium; some who will come by ferry, some who will hail and share Uber rides. Some will buy Super Bowl 50-branded Clipper public transportation fare cards and board renewable energy-fueled buses from designated pick-up points. The most exuberant will pedal to the stadium and drop off their wheels at a bike valet.

Fans will be greeted by volunteers wearing uniforms of recycled materials, and they will line up at water filling stations, but they won’t be filling single-use bottles they bought there; those have been nixed for the day. Game-goers can check out a dashboard display showing energy measurements, water and air monitors, among operational green features of the LEED gold-certified building.

Once the bleachers empty out, the work will continue. Prepared food will be shipped to soup kitchens and community centers, and there will be a week-long drive to collect and donate other Super Bowl leftovers, like building materials, décor, carpeting and signs. The recovered would-be trash will be reused, repurposed, or remanufactured.

To solid waste management professionals

Those dedicated to the NFL's environmental program have their work cut out for them, and look for support from waste experts.

"We like to work with contractors who not only integrate best practices but who look at innovative ways to address issues such as enhanced waste diversion," said Groh, citing a company called Sierra Waste.

"They worked with us on Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona on source separation. And they took advantage of innovative locally developed technology that processes and turns waste into concrete aggregate used for nonstructural purposes (like parking lot paving or pool pads.) This innovative approach helped us reach a 90-plus percent diversion rate."

By Arlene Karidis | February 5, 2016

Green Ways to Ski and Snowboard

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 04, 2016

Some tips to help you fight climate change and save the slopes after #snowmageddon.

A snowy winter season is of optimal importance for the skiing and snowboarding industry. But less snowfall and higher temperatures due to climate change increasingly threaten the length and success of the season, creating an environment that may one day be inhospitable for skiers and boarders.

The winter sports industry is in an awkward position: Large ski and snowboard resorts use large amounts of energy and release high levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in order to keep their resorts running smoothly, yet those same actions come back to haunt them. Winter resorts are now taking charge and turning green in order to ensure their survival. Aspen leads the winter resort pack in its green efforts: The resort was the first to purchase wind power and the first to offset 100 percent of its electricity.

Many organizations recognize the importance of fighting climate change and are energized and organized in their campaigns. Groups like Protect Our Winters and the Sustainable Slopes initiative by the National Ski Areas Association fight to reduce the effects of climate change on winter sports areas to ensure that they’re available for generations to come.

Individuals share an important part in the mission to save the slopes as well; the tips below will help you stay green on the slopes, whether you’re a skier or a boarder.

Green boards and skis. If you’re in need of new equipment, make an effort to shop for sustainable products, like bamboo snowboards and Paulownia (a sustainable type of wood) skis. Also keep an eye out for eco-conscious companies. Colorado’s Venture Snowboards runs its entire operation on wind power.

Green gear. Ski and board clothes, too, come from sustainable sources. Check out these companies that use organic cotton: Klattermusen and Mountain Equipment Co-op. If you are into fashion of the future, this solar-powered LED ski jacket could come in handy when it hits the market.

Green resorts. Make sure to do your research about the environmentally friendly practices of resorts on your list. As mentioned above, Aspen is doing great things in this arena, as are Smugglers’ Notch Family Resort in Vermont and Park City Mountain Resortin Utah. For a full list of the top seven green ski destinations in the United States, see here.

Green transportation. Look to greener methods of getting to the slopes. Carpooling will cut down on gas and emissions. Check public transportation in your destination of choice; many towns near winter ski resorts offer buses and shuttles to transport skiers and boarders to and fro. Even big cities that aren’t necessarily that close to the slopes have green options.Emilio’s in New York City runs shuttle services straight to nearby slopes. Look for these options in your hometown or try suggesting/initiating them yourself.

Our current climate problems relentlessly assault the world’s winter sports areas, creating less than ideal conditions. It is important that individuals, organizations, and resorts alike all take steps to combat climate change and protect the beauty of the winter season. For an inside look from an industry point of view, check out this short film by Teton Gravity Research about how skiers and snowboarders perceive climate change and what they plan to do about it.

And remember, nobody likes a slippery slope, so keep these tips in mind as you plan your next ski or board trip and do your part to save the slopes.

**Reposted from Center for American Progress

Best Practices In Recycling

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Everybody wants to recycle more and landfill less. In addition to being the best thing for the environment, it can also improve your bottom line. Sustainability efforts have come a long way in recent years, but there are always opportunities to do better. Upgrading your recycling program can save your business a considerable amount in disposal costs as well as increase revenue through the sale of more recyclable materials, at a higher price, to a wider variety of end users.

Here are a few simple tips for making your business more sustainable — and profitable.

Identify Recyclable Waste

What are you throwing away every day that could potentially be recycled?  And how much is it costing you? The answer isn’t as clear as you may think. A detailed waste audit will likely reveal many areas where you are sending an excess amount of your waste to a landfill, and throwing away money in the process.

Commonly thrown away recyclables include:

  • Paper or plastic cores
  • Kraft multi-wall bags
  • Plastic drums
  • Plastic and metal strapping
  • All types of plastic packaging
  • E-scrap
  • Nitrile gloves, hairnets & ear plugs
  • Thread spools
  • And many more

Develop Recycling Teams

If a recycling program is going to work, everyone needs to be on the same page. Many companies face a resistance to change and a dependence on former habits, but nearly every company has individuals who care deeply about environmental issues. Management needs to utilize these individuals to develop internal Green Teams. These teams can be given extra responsibilities and incentives to lead efforts to get other staffers on board and up to speed. The ideal Green Team would feature workers from many shifts and departments, with several eyes and ears on the ground.

Keep ‘Em Separated By Keeping It Simple

A staff that is well educated on how to properly handle recyclables can earn a company thousands of dollars a year. Proper separation of recyclables is critical. It is also important to keep all recycling receptacles in accessible locations with clear signage — with visuals making it as easy as possible for people to know what goes where.

Bale Your Recyclables

The baling of recyclables is also key. Having balers on hand, and a staff that knows how to use them, goes a long way toward a company’s recycling initiatives. For example, you can fit 10 times as much cardboard on a truck if you bale it.

Scout Innovative Solutions

Nearly all waste is recyclable. For example, many hard to recycle items can be handled by utilizing a variety of profitable return programs. There are also Waste To Energy options available for items that, while they may not be recyclable, can be converted into energy instead of going to a landfill.

Do A Value Assessment

Learn what the values of your recyclables are. Get accurate data on how much you’re getting per ton. For example, the clearer a plastic is, the higher value it has. Colored plastics are less valuable. But most times they get bundled together. Depending on the volume of waste you produce, a basic analysis can help you figure out whether it’s worth it to your company to spend the time and labor to sort it out or whether to save the effort and make less per ton. Seemingly small decisions like this can make a big financial impact.

Find A Recycling Partner

Without the expertise of a recycling partner, it is very difficult for a company to achieve Zero Waste to Landfill and fully maximize their recycling revenues. A recycling program can be difficult to manage, particularly for a company with multiple locations or plants across the country. It is time-consuming effort that requires ongoing training, on-site consultations and process analysis across all locations. A company greatly benefits from a recycling partner who can handle every step of the operation, from touring the plants, mapping out all the details with the decision makers, arranging the distribution and delivery schedules and creating the financial framework and payment arrangements.

Some things to look for in a recycling partner include:

  • Reliable reporting: Companies need accurate data to track how they’re doing, progress or mistakes they’re making and money they’re saving or losing.
  • Optimized picks ups: The ability to put all recyclables on one trailer, greatly reducing transportation costs.
  • Single point of contact, even for multiple facilities across the country: This maximizes efficiency and profitability while making the recycling program more convenient and manageable.
  • An understanding of your business/product and a commitment to finding solutions for hard-to-recycle items.

*Original posted by Noah Goodman

LSU Tigers Fans Recycled More Garbage Than Any Other College

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Football fans at Louisiana State University recycled 86,400 pounds of garbage last fall, more than any other school that took part in the 2015 GameDay Recycling Challenge. Participating schools recycled close to 2.5 million pounds of waste during the 2015 football season, the Keep America Beautiful campaign said.

LSU fans won the challenge by a large margin, recycling almost 10 tons more waste than the Clemson University fans, who took the No. 2 spot out of 99 participating schools. Ohio State University fans won the diversion rate category by recycling and composting more than 95 percent of the total garbage thrown away on game days.

The campaign estimated that diverting recyclables and compostable waste from landfills prevented the release of around 3,650 metric tons of carbon dioxide. That's equal to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 768 passenger vehicles.

The Fibrex Group Encore Special Event Box is a recycled content trash or recycling container that includes a "multi-function" lid and 55 gallon liner bag. Containers are plain and can be customized with your school’s logo or event identification sticker for a minimum order. These bins are perfect for any tailgate!

Work. Play. Recycle.

Original By Jed Lipinski, | The Times-Picayune

Nebraska Awarded Recycling Grants Totaling More Than $1.6 Million

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) awarded 54 grants totaling more than $1.6 million to support projects across the state dedicated to recycling, litter cleanup and education.

“There were many outstanding applications submitted to NDEQ this year,” DEQ Director Jim Macy said. “The grant awards will support many important local efforts to recycle and reduce litter across the state.”

The DEQ awarded 24 Recycling Grants, totaling $916,975, for programs that allow Nebraska residents to divert their solid waste from the state’s landfills. Projects could deal with standard recycling materials, like aluminum and paper, or less well known recyclables including electric computer parts, fertilizer or pharmaceutical items.

The state’s Cleanup Grants help projects looking to pick up litter and debris from the state’s public areas, including waterways and recreation lands. The DEQ issued 12 grants this round, for a total of $108,483, with many of the projects recycling the collected litter.

The grants recently awarded also included $609,545 in funding for 18 projects to promote recycling and cleanup programs through environmental education initiatives.

The DEQ funds these grants through its Litter Reduction and Recycling Grant Program, which charges manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of products that create litter.

Recycling helps each state beautify it’s green spaces, creates jobs, helps the environment and can bring much needed money to the budget. If you are interested in finding out more information on grant money that may be available to your state get in touch with your states DEP to find out more. For more information on recycling containers for your schools and municipalities, contact the Fibrex Group.

EP News Wire

Oscar the Grouch has Discovered Recycling

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, January 14, 2016

Big Bird’s nest has moved to a tree. Elmo has moved from an apartment into a brownstone. His best friend, Abby Cadabby, loves her new community garden. And while Oscar the Grouch still makes a trash can his home, he now pops up through an underground tunnel of connecting recycling and compost bins

Welcome to the new “Sesame Street,” where the word on the street this season is C-H-A-N-G-E.

After 45 years on the public broadcaster PBS, Big Bird, Elmo and the rest of the “Sesame Street” crew are settling into a renovated set as well as a new television home on the premium cable network HBO. Season 46 starts Saturday morning.

“Everything has been changing around here,” Carmen Osbahr, the puppeteer who for 26 years has performed as the turquoise, hug-loving bilingual monster Rosita, said recently, during a break from filming the coming Valentine’s Day special.

Festooned across the set were red and pink valentines. Heart-shaped cookies with red gumdrops sat on the counter at Hooper’s Store, which has undergone a Williamsburg-like renovation.

“It is more like things look now,” Ms. Osbahr added. “When Sesame Street was created, it was kind of more like New York Bronx. Now, Oscar has a recycling can. That is amazing.”

“Sesame Street” is performing a delicate balancing act between old and new; even as it seeks to preserve its mission of using the power of entertainment media to educate children, it is trying to remain relevant and available to a generation of children who do not distinguish between a television and a mobile phone screen.

“If you know the audience, you can serve them better, tell better stories, and they will love you more,” said Brown Johnson, executive vice president and creative director at Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit group behind the program.

Want some of Oscar’s recycling bin stash? Check out the Fibrex Group website for our full selection that you and your community will love to use! Work. Play. Recycle.

**Some content by EMILY STEEL Jan. 12, 2016 - New York Times

State of New Jersey Distributes More Than $14 Million in Recycling Grants

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, January 06, 2016

More than $14.3 million in New Jersey recycling grants will be awarded this week through the state’s Recycling Enhancement Act. The grant program, based on 2013 recycling performance, is meant to help implement and enhance local recycling efforts, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration said in a news release.

Local programs that received high grant awards include Vineland with a $255,217 grant, Brick Township with a $280,093 grant and Toms River with a $174,524 grant.

Recycling not only conserves resources, it conserves energy, saves money for our local governments, and creates jobs and economic development.” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said in the release. “I am proud to see the commitment to recycling demonstrated in New Jersey, which has long been the national leader in recycling efforts.”

The grant program is funded by a $3 per ton surcharge on trash disposed at solid waste facilities across the state, and grants are being distributed based upon the recycling success of local governments in 2013, the release said.

In 2013, the state generated more than 21 million tons of solid waste, and more than 12 million tons were recycled. This includes municipal waste as well as construction debris and other types of waste, the release said.

“The recycling culture is deeply ingrained in most of us and has become a daily habit in most of our homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and other institutions,” said Mark Pedersen, DEP assistant commissioner for site remediation and solid waste management. “Every time we pitch a bottle or can in the recycling bucket, we are pitching in to protect our environment.”

The Fibrex Group has supplied many New Jersey townships, boroughs, parks & schools with our state of the art recycling receptacles and playground equipment. Our superior green design recycling containers, receptacles, site furnishings and playgrounds always contain the maximum recycled content so you can feel good about supporting your local initiatives. Work. Play. Recycle.

Posted: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 via