Green Recycling Products Blog

Ocean County, NJ Recycling Program Is on an Uptick

- Monday, May 02, 2022
Fibrex Group - Igloo Recycling Container

Ocean County’s recycling program had its most profitable year in 10 years in 2021. “Our residents have embraced recycling in Ocean County since it was first instituted in 1985,” said Ocean County Commissioner Barbara Jo Crea, who is liaison to the county’s recycling program. “After a few down years we have returned to a most robust profit as we continue to improve and expand our recycling programs. Our total revenues in 2021 were the second highest of all time and the highest since 2011. “This is very good news for our residents, our municipalities and for our environment.”

Like other counties throughout the state, Ocean County found itself struggling in maintaining its regional recycling programs and keeping them cost effective starting in 2019. “The market for recyclables took a big hit when China began declining the materials it was being sent,” said Crea. “We found ourselves with a lot of recyclables and nowhere to send them.

“To develop a more marketable product, the board of freeholders (the former name of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners) at the time made the commitment to invest in the county’s recycling program in order to improve equipment and the cleanliness of the product,” said Crea. “Ultimately, the board’s investment of over $5 million along with the materials recovery facility operator’s investment at the Northern Ocean County Recycling Center in Lakewood, and combined with an improved global market, enabled 2021 to be Ocean County’s most profitable year in a decade.”

Ocean County's Recycling Program uses recycle bins from Fibrex Group. If you are looking for Igloo Recycling Containers like the bins they are using at Ocean County, contact Fibrex Group.

Issues Of The Environment: Properly Disposing Of PPEs And Other Waste During COVID-19 Pandemic

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 16, 2020
Fibrex Group - Chesapeake, VA src=

The Centers for Disease Control continues to recommend wearing gloves and masks while in public. More and more people are following recommended guidelines. However, getting rid of those personal protective equipment (PPE) items is often being done improperly. In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair talks with Washtenaw County Public Works manager Theo Eggermont about proper disposal to protect public health and the environment.


  • Parking lots in southeast Michigan are littered with used personal protection equipment (PPEs). As the COVID-19 epidemic intensifies, tainted gloves, masks, and disinfectant wipes are creating a public health hazard. These items should be placed in a trash bin as soon as they are removed, and care should be taken to ensure they do not end up elsewhere in the community or contaminating the recycling stream.
  • Disinfectant wipes and other wipes labeled “flushable” also need to be placed in the trash, never in the toilet. Wipes that are flushed into the sewer system can cause enormous clogs, hazardous sewage backups and overflows, and they are expensive to remedy.
  • Governor Whitmer’s recent “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, has led to some changes in the collection of recycling and waste. However, curbside recycling continues. Unfortunately, the New Boston MRF (a processing facility that handles some of Washtenaw County’s recycling materials), has had to temporarily close after employees became ill with COVID-19, and other MRFs are operating below the usual capacity.
  • Theo Eggermont, Public Works Manager for Washtenaw County, encourages Washtenaw County residents to continue their personal recycling efforts. The Hazardous Household Waste Collection at Zeeb Rd. and Collection Day events for hard to recycle items are cancelled until the “stay at home” order is lifted. Residents should continue to store difficult to recycle items until collection events can resume.

Gloves, Masks, and Wipes Everywhere

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that Americans wear face masks to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, reversing an earlier directive against it.

Now, people across the country say they’re finding used masks as well as gloves and disinfectant wipes littering store parking lots. Doctors say it’s not just annoying, it’s dangerous. Here’s why.


Doctors say littering isn’t just a nuisance — PPE that hasn’t been properly disposed of can cause the coronavirus to spread more easily. “I would urge at this time it is not a good practice to leave litter around for other people to clean up,” Dr. Karen Landers, a medical officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health, told WBRC.

She explained that current guidelines do not require the use of gloves “because they create a false sense of security” and could easily spread the virus if not removed or discarded correctly, according to the outlet.

Isabel Valdez, a physician assistant at Baylor College of Medicine, sang a similar tune.

“We know these viruses can live in these surfaces anywhere between two hours to two days,” she told KPRC. She recommends wiping gloves down with hand sanitizer before tossing them.


So what is the right way to dispose of masks, gloves and disinfectant wipes? For one, put them in a trash can. “Make sure to find your nearest trashcan,” Betsy Stewart with Main Street Family Care told WBRC. “I know Walmart and most places have trashcans at the exit. Or grab an extra grocery sack and discard your gloves in there so you can carry them home to throw away.”

How to safely remove gloves

When removing your gloves, the CDC reminds users that the outside is contaminated and recommends using one gloved hand to grab the palm of the other glove and peel it off.

Hold that glove while you slide fingers on your un-gloved hand under the remaining glove at the wrist to peel it off. Throw them both in the trash. When you’re done, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer, the CDC says.

How to safely remove masks and respirators

Grab the bottom ties of your mask and then the ones at the top and remove the mask without touching the front, according to the CDC. Be sure not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Throw it away then thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer. If you’re using a cloth mask, you can wash it in your washing machine, the CDC says.

Don’t Flush Wipes!

They're convenient, sitting in a little container on top of the toilet tank. A nice little damp wipe to tidy up after answering the call of nature. But the small flushable wipes are causing headaches, wastewater officials say, because they are clogging sewer systems in metro Detroit and across the country.

The phenomenon, which local officials call ragging, means that screens and pumps in wastewater systems are getting clogged with flushable wipes that officials claim might be flushable, but are not biodegradable. The wipes are "wreaking havoc" with pumps in a long-term, temporary sewer bypass at the 15 Mile Road sewer interceptor that collapsed and caused a sinkhole that was discovered Dec. 24 in Fraser, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said. She and other wastewater officials in metro Detroit are urging folks to flush only toilet paper — nothing else — down with the human waste. "We have really had an enormous problem with this bypass. First, we have to pump (sewage) up 60 feet and then pump it back down (into the underground sewer line). We are just burning our pumps out with all this ragging," Miller said. "This ragging is just really, really handicapping our efforts our there."

She said the wipes turn "into almost like a rope and they wrap themselves around the pump." She said officials were discussing whether they should install a cutter on the pump, an additional expense in the already $70-million to $75-million repair project. The large sewer line collapse condemned three houses and caused officials to urge more than 500,000 residents and tens of thousands of businesses to curb water use for months. "All it takes is a small thing to catch — the first one and then they pile on each other," he said about the wipes, adding: "They'll go down, but that doesn't mean they are flushable ... The whole point with toilet paper is it deteriorates."

Craig Covey, community liaison with Nash's office, said, "Wipes and similar products are costing our nation's water and sewer systems millions now, and the problems are in every system." Last year, Oakland County officials made a fun, two-minute public service announcement to educate people about not flushing wipes and other items — including cotton balls and kitty litter — down the toilet.

While the main system in Oakland County hasn't has many problems with non-flushable items getting caught in pump screens, which get cleaned regularly, or at its facilities, the ragging problem is often an issue in the sewer leads out of residences and neighborhoods into the main sewer lines, Nash said. "They block private lines, get caught up in tree roots or back up into people's homes," said Bryan Peckinpaugh, spokesman for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, adding that the wipes and other non-flushable debris can cause equipment in wastewater treatment facilities to be damaged.

In 2014, the department also made a short video that is on YouTube discussing the problem and the damage it can cause and items not to toss into toilets, including tampons, sanitary napkins and paper towels. Nash said the bulk of the problem is made up of the flushable wipes, "the other things can hold it together — like dental floss."

Officials said they have seen a lot of flushable wipes through the years. According to Euromonitor International, the sale of wipes, in general, continues to grow, reaching sales of $5.6 billion last year.

The Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA) stated in an e-mail to the Free Press that it does not track sales numbers of flushable wipes. It stated it tracks other categories and that there are three categories that include materials marketed as "flushable" — moist toilet tissue, toddler training and intimate/feminine care wipes. The annual growth rate for these three categories from 2008 through 2013 was 4.8%, according to its e-mail.

Out of sight, out of mind. That's what many people think when they flush the toilet, with wastewater officials having seen everything from tissues to cigarette butts to prescription medication go down the john. A tour earlier this month of the Clintondale Pump Station in Clinton Township by a Free Press reporter included two large bins about a third full from just three days of debris collected by a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week automatic bar screening cleaning operation in the Lakeshore sewer interceptor — another large sewer interceptor that runs along I-94 on Macomb County's east side.

Among the items slowly pulled out of the sewage water were sludgy wipes and other paper items in shades of yellow, brown and black, a Sharpie — even a plastic water bottle. There are four bins that are filled with debris, which is taken to a landfill weekly by a sanitation hauler, though sometimes a special pickup is needed if a lot of items are collected.

Clogs created by wipes are a health hazard for workers

In the old days, officials there said, screens had to be cleaned by hand by workers with rakes. Cleaning of screens is being done manually at the sewer collapse in Fraser, where during a heavy rain at the end of last month, the screens had to be cleared of wipes and other debris every one to two hours instead of about every 18 hours on a non-rainy day, Miller said. The cleared material gets trashed.

"All kinds of things can get stuck down there," Nash said. "Every little thing adds up to what shouldn't be there. If it doesn't deteriorate right away, we really don't want it down there."

INDA stated it agrees with "concerns about the need to reduce the burden on wastewater systems." "And we’re committed to engaging with consumers and municipalities about how to make sure we find the right solutions. We believe that working together, we can raise the public awareness that will lead to real, lasting changes," INDA said in its response to e-mail questions from the Free Press. "It's an unfortunate truth — people flush products not designed to be flushed."

INDA said that forensic studies done in collaboration with wastewater professionals show "approximately 90% of the items being found at wastewater screens are not engineered to be flushed nor marketed to be flushed. The most frequently found items are paper towels/napkins, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products and household wipes. Only a small percentage of the debris analyzed in these studies were identified as a 'flushable wipe' and those were frequently there only as late comers to a pile-up."

INDA stated that flushable wipe products, by their design, manufacturing and performance are "entirely different from the many non-flushable wipes on the market. But that's not just taken at face value. Before they're determined to be safe to flush, products undergo seven rigorous tests — and must pass each one."

The association states that in the tests, flushable wipes passed through various systems, pipes and lines "not damaging pumps and ultimately degraded. They were proven to be compatible – not a burden – on wastewater systems. The fact is, more than 98% of items found in wastewater systems are items not meant to be flushed — everything from paper towels to non-flushable wipes to feminine hygiene products."

But several cities in Minnesota filed a class-action federal lawsuit in 2015 against a half-dozen companies that advertise certain wipes as flushable, according to media outlets in Minnesota. A TV station, KSTP-TV, reported in January that attorneys representing the companies were in the state to inspect clogs the cities claim are damaging the sewers. The association stated that flushing items not designed to be flushed is "not a problem that can be solved by focusing on one product, industry or company. There needs to be a strong effort to educate consumers on proper disposal paths for products, and that the toilet is not a trash can."

It stated that the amount of baby wipes and other non-flushable materials found in wastewater systems dropped "dramatically" following the industry's joint education campaign. "Clear, strong, easy to understand labeling is also a key factor in helping consumers understand what not to flush," the INDA response stated.

The association stated it collaborated with wastewater associations to create labeling and introduced the "Do Not Flush" symbol for non-flushable wipe products. It's a picture of a person tossing an item into a toilet with a slash through it, indicating not to flush that item. A Free Press reporter noticed such a symbol for the first time just a few months ago on a Kleenex tissue box. INDA states that manufacturers of flushable wipes are continually advancing technologies and practices for solutions for keeping water systems safe.

But for wastewater officials, the answer is easy — only flush toilet paper with human waste; throw everything else in the garbage.

Information Provided by Theo Eggermont, Public Works Manager for Washtenaw County

  1. Many communities in Washtenaw County and surrounding areas send their recyclables to GFL in New Boston. They had an employee test positive and have temporarily shut down, other MRF’s are operating at a below level capacity because they used to be able to have 4 people on the sorting line and now have to have 1 person in that same space. It would be important for people to know to still recycle and now more than ever to do it better. Check municipal websites for directions, for further guidance. Many communities in Washtenaw County sent their materials to WWRA, and that is still operating.
  2. County Clean up days to get rid of those things that many people have found the time to clean out their garages (bulky waste, cleaning supplies, electronics, tires, etc).
    1. Dates and items that can be recycled, or properly disposed of can be found at:
    2. We’ll be adding in others with events at Saline, Augusta, and EMU to be scheduled and adjusted based on state and local guidance on COVID.
  3. We are planning on adding some additional capacity/hours at our Zeeb Home Toxics Center when we return as we know people will still want to get rid of things.

Waste Collection during COVID-19, including recycling, is still operational in Washtenaw County

Recycle Ann Arbor - Update as of March 26th, 2020 - In light of Governor Whitmer’s recent “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order, we have decided to close the Recovery Yard (7891 Jackson Rd.) as of 4:00 pm on March 26th, 2020, until further notice. The Drop Off Station, Reuse Center and Main offices remain closed. We are working hard to support our staff and keep our community healthy and safe during this rapidly-changing and challenging time.

Recycling and waste services remain essential to our community and are expected to continue throughout the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. Recycling Curbside Collection will continue on your scheduled day. The Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is still sorting materials, and our partners throughout the industry are still processing materials and marketing them to end markets. We have instituted precautions to keep our curbside recycling collection drivers and Materials Recovery Facility staff healthy & safe.

Curbside Recycling Collections

  • Curbside Recycling Collection is occurring on your scheduled day.
  • Recycle Ann Arbor team members will be cleaning and disinfecting common/communal areas in the Curbside Collections Division
  • A cleaning and disinfecting station will be placed in a communal area for collection drivers to use in cleaning their collection vehicles.
  • While performing pre-trip inspections, Recycle Ann Arbor Drivers are required to sanitize their trucks (outside inside door handles, seats, radio, steering wheel, dashboard, joysticks and accessories).
  • All two-way radios will be disinfected after use.
  • Staff are maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and others at all times.
  • Staff who are sick are instructed to stay home for at least 14 days.
  • Recycle Ann Arbor will be posting signage related to the precautions and spread of COVID-19 at primary point of entry and throughout buildings.

Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)

  • The Materials Recovery Facility doors are closed to the public. The facility is still processing recyclables. Drivers and visitors are prohibited from entering the building.
  • Please maintain 6 feet of space between yourself and others on site. Staff on site will also be practicing social distancing, and wearing proper protective gear to ensure maximum safety.
  • Our staff will be following health & safety precautions to disinfect and sanitize the work space at regular intervals.
  • New Boston MRF shut down due to employees becoming infected with the Covid virus - alternative options are being explored.

Recovery Yard

  • Effective at 4 pm on March 26th, 2020: Recovery Yard is now CLOSED until further notice. We will alert you when we are able to reopen.

Drop-Off Station

  • Drop Off Station is now CLOSED. We will alert you when we are able to reopen.

ReUse Center

In an effort to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Reuse Center is now CLOSED. We will alert you when we are able to reopen.


How Long Will Coronavirus Live on Surfaces or in the Air Around You?

Darren Kincaid - Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A new study could have implications for how the general public and health care workers try to avoid transmission of the virus.

The coronavirus can live for three days on some surfaces, like plastic and steel, new research suggests. Experts say the risk of consumers getting infected from touching those materials is still low, although they offered additional warnings about how long the virus survives in air, which may have important implications for medical workers.

The new study, published Tuesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, also suggests that the virus disintegrates over the course of a day on cardboard, lessening the worry among consumers that deliveries will spread the virus during this period of staying and working from home.

When the virus becomes suspended in droplets smaller than five micrometers — known as aerosols — it can stay suspended for about a half-hour, researchers said, before drifting down and settling on surfaces where it can linger for hours. The finding on aerosol in particular is inconsistent with the World Health Organization’s position that the virus is not transported by air.

The virus lives longest on plastic and steel, surviving for up to 72 hours. But the amount of viable virus decreases sharply over this time. It also does poorly on copper, surviving four hours. On cardboard, it survives up to 24 hours, which suggests packages that arrive in the mail should have only low levels of the virus — unless the delivery person has coughed or sneezed on it or has handled it with contaminated hands.

That’s true in general. Unless the people who handle any of these materials are sick, the actual risk of getting infected from any of these materials is low, experts said.

“Everything at the grocery store and restaurant takeout containers and bags could in theory have infectious virus on them,” said Dr. Linsey Marr, who was not a member of the research team but is an expert in the transmission of viruses by aerosol at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. “We could go crazy discussing these ‘what ifs’ because everyone is a potential source, so we have to focus on the biggest risks.”

If people are concerned about the risk, they could wipe down packages with disinfectant wipes and wash their hands, she said.

It is unclear why cardboard should be a less hospitable environment for the virus than plastic or steel, but it may be explained by the absorbency or fibrous quality of the packaging compared with the other surfaces.

That the virus can survive and stay infectious in aerosols is also important for health care workers.

For weeks experts have maintained that the virus is not airborne. But in fact, it can travel through the air and stay suspended for that period of about a half-hour.

The virus does not linger in the air at high enough levels to be a risk to most people who are not physically near an infected person. But the procedures health care workers use to care for infected patients are likely to generate aerosols.

“Once you get a patient in with severe pneumonia, the patients need to be intubated,” said Dr. Vincent Munster, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who led the study. “All these handlings might generate aerosols and droplets.”

Health care workers might also collect those tiny droplets and larger ones on their protective gear when working with infected patients. They might resuspend these big and small droplets into the air when they take off this protective gear and become exposed to the virus then, Dr. Marr cautioned.

A study that is being reviewed by experts bears out this fear. And another study, published March 4 in JAMA, also indicates that the virus is transported by air. That study, based in Singapore, found the virus on a ventilator in the hospital room of an infected patient, where it could only have reached via the air.

Dr. Marr said the World Health Organization had so far referred to the virus as not airborne, but that health care workers should wear gear, including respirator masks, assuming that it is.

“Based on aerosol science and recent findings on flu virus,” she said, “surgical masks are probably insufficient.”

Dr. Marr said based on physics, an aerosol released at a height of about six feet would fall to the ground after 34 minutes. The findings should not cause the general public to panic, however, because the virus disperses quickly in the air.

“It sounds scary,” she said, “but unless you’re close to someone, the amount you’ve been exposed to is very low.”

Dr. Marr compared this to cigarette smoke or a foggy breath on a frosty day. The closer and sooner another person is to the exhaled smoke or breath, the more of a whiff they might catch; for anyone farther than a few feet away, there is too little of the virus in the air to be any danger.

To assess the ability of the virus to survive in the air, the researchers created what Dr. Munster described as “bizarre experiments done under very ideal controllable experimental conditions.” They used a rotating drum to suspend the aerosols, and provided temperature and humidity levels that closely mimic hospital conditions.

In this setup, the virus survived and stayed infectious for up to three hours, but its ability to infect drops sharply over this time, he said.

He said the aerosols might stay aloft only for about 10 minutes, but Dr. Marr disagreed with that assessment, and said they could stay in the air for three times longer. She also said that the experimental setup might be less comfortable for the virus than a real-life setting.

For example, she said, the researchers used a relative humidity of 65 percent. “Many, but not all viruses, have shown that they survive worst at this level of humidity,” she said. They do best at lower or much higher humidity. The humidity in a heated house is less than 40 percent, “at which the virus might survive even longer,” she said.

Mucus and respiratory fluids might also allow the virus to survive longer than the laboratory fluids the researchers used for their experiments.

Other experts said the paper’s findings illustrate the urgent need for more information about the virus’s ability to survive in aerosols, and under different conditions.

“We need more experiments like this, in particular, extending the experimental sampling time for aerosolized virus beyond three hours and testing survival under different temperature and humidity conditions,” said Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, an environmental health sciences expert at Columbia University.

Dr. Munster noted that, over all, the new coronavirus seems no more capable of surviving for long periods than its close cousins SARS and MERS, which caused previous epidemics. That suggests there are other reasons, such as transmission by people who don’t have symptoms, for its ability to cause a pandemic.

Source: NY Times

Reduce, Reuse And Recycle

Darren Kincaid - Wednesday, July 25, 2018

By Nancy Ferguson

Fibrex Group - Eco Pod

The motto “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” is a familiar call for those who care about protecting the earth and conserving its resources. It is often seen in environmental literature and heard among those who seek to preserve the ecology of this fragile planet. As much as we may agree with the values of ecology, it can be overwhelming to establish policies and practices at a camp to actually carry out our good intentions.

Since it is often difficult to translate the motto into a business plan--particularly when it affects the limited financial resources of a camp--here are some practical suggestions that are both environmentally friendly and cost-effective.


1. Get more use from printer and copier paper.

  • Buy recycled paper and tell campers and guests that everything is printed on this type of paper. Although it may be slightly more expensive, the cost will decrease as more and more people use the paper.
  • Use both sides of printer paper. Unless there is a lot of moisture in the camp office, printer paper can be reused for drafts of documents or internal memos.
  • Cut used paper into 5½-inch by 4-inch scraps, and use it instead of printed memo paper or expensive sticky notes. Attach them with reusable paper clips.

2. Promote donations of used items.

  • Collect all the gently used donations you can’t use, and hold a yard sale at an open house or a local community event. Use the money for camperships or to purchase recycling bins.
  • Promote the event and invite friends of the camp to donate items, or they can set up their own booth for a small fee.

3. Keep equipment in good repair.

Although the immediate cost of a repair may seem daunting, the long-range savings make it worthwhile. Not only will it save the expense of new equipment, but it will save that old equipment from taking up space in a landfill.

  • Look into bartering. Perhaps a nearby school, camp or business has equipment you need once or twice a year, and you have equipment they can use occasionally. Then share the upkeep of thee equipment.

4. Eliminate Styrofoam and plastic bottles.

Both are expected to stay in landfills for up to a million years before breaking down!

  • Carry a coffee mug or water bottle, and encourage staff members to do the same. Model this behavior at community meetings or presentations. This is a simple step for those interested in saving the earth’s resources.
  • Encourage campers to bring a water bottle to camp--or to buy one at the camp store--to reuse often. Make arrangements to wash the bottles during the week--perhaps during one meal before the dishes come back. Educate campers about the landfill realities of plastic bottles as part of their orientation to camp.
  • Invite off-season guests to bring their own cup or bottle, or to mark one of the camp’s bottles for use during the event. Think of how many times people only use a cup or glass once and then get a fresh one because they don’t know where the first one is. Again, remind guests they can continue to make this same effort at home. Post information about the long life of plastic and Styrofoam and their effect upon landfills.


5. Buy products with less packaging and/or packaging made with recycled content.

Pay attention to the packaging on products. How much plastic is used to protect the product? Recycle cardboard packaging.

  • One advantage camps have is the ability to buy in bulk. Encourage the food-service director to make bulk purchases whenever possible.

6. Eliminate disposable products.

Go for reusable, fixable and washable items.

  • Replace paper napkins with cloth ones in the dining room. Although this may be a costly one-time purchase, the money--and trees--saved will be considerable.
  • Replace paper towels in the kitchen with a bag of rags to wipe hands and wash pots, pans and countertops. The cost of detergent and water will be less than continuously purchasing paper.

7. Choose CFL light bulbs.

CFL bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Light) use 75-percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.

  • According to the EPA, every incandescent bulb replaced with a CFL saves enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year. Think what this would mean for a camp’s electric bill!
  • One camp invited everyone attending a cleanup event to bring several light bulbs. By the end of the day, all of the light bulbs in camp had been switched.

8. Save water.

  • Place a sign over each sink at camp stating, “Please turn off the water while brushing your teeth. You will save 3 to 5 gallons of water for every minute the water doesn’t run.”
  • Turn down hot water heaters to 110 F, put displacement devices in toilet tanks, and install aerators in showerheads. One of these will save energy and water; all of these will save a lot of energy (therefore money) and water.


Fibrex Group - Eco Pod

9. Add recycling containers with the “recycle” logo.

  • Put a container next to every soda machine and those places--especially the staff lounge--where people drink soda.
  • Near each container, post information about the energy and resources saved by recycling one can.
  • Make recycling containers from regular trashcans, and have a contest to see which camp group can spraypaint the most creative design.

10. Create a recycling area.

  • Schedule a time for campers to help in the recycling area. Explain the need for flattening boxes, sorting glass by color, and squashing plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
  • Include information about the benefits of recycling and conserving resources in sessions.
  • Purchase cotton shopping bags in bulk so every camper can tie-dye or screen-print a bag to take home. Encourage them to write a letter to their parents explaining how the bag will save trees and reduce the use of plastics.
  • Contact a local waste-management system for details on which items are accepted for recycling, and where they can be taken.
  • Plan a session during staff training so that everyone understands the recycling practice.


Commentary: Keep them sorted

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Fibrex Group - Fibrex Modular Recycling Cabinets

We are reprinting the post below as it make a great case for the importance of separating the collection of recyclables with multi-waste stream recycling receptacles such as the Fibrex Cabinets. Fibrex Recycling Cabinets are fire resistant, ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing containers designed for dual, triple and quad stream collection of recyclables, waste & compostables. The Fibrex Modular Recycling Cabinets enable you to adapt your recycling streams without changing your container. Lids can be interchanged/replaced to keep your bins up to date with current collection efforts. The units are emptied by opening the two front doors which are fitted with self-closing hinges for ease of use. Each compartment holds a 25-gallon rigid plastic interior bin with handles and bag cut outs. Custom logo decals are also an option to brand your units for an even more powerful presence. Every unit is produced using high quality galvannealed steel and lightweight aluminum doors with an architectural grade powder-coated finish inside and out.

The following commentary is from Cleveland-based recycler Richard Bole of Recycle Midwest. It is a follow-up to a previously submitted essay of his from early 2017.

A “perfect storm” of market forces has been in place in recent years that is devastating the single-stream collection method. Asia is buying less and insisting on better quality. North American paper mills are paying low prices if quality is poor.

Due to low oil prices, virgin plastics (derived from oil) are low and may come to market even lower than the price fetched by recycled plastics. In that kind of market, only quality recycled plastics and paper have a chance to be sold. Single-stream plants too often don’t have the quality needed in these conditions.

Yet it is tiresome to hear waste companies blame the recycling markets for their single-stream problems. The system was flawed to begin with because it runs against the basic laws of physics and chemistry. Over our 27 years in business, trying to recycle more than 35 different materials, we have learned the following truism: To get the highest and best prices (and sometimes any price), everything must be almost perfectly sorted.


That everything has to be almost perfectly sorted is because of basic laws of physics and chemistry. Copper and aluminum can’t be melted together and No. 1 PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic is not intended to be consumed as pellets along with No. 2 HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic or No. 3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or the other plastics. Cardboard and boxboard can’t be placed in the paper machine with white paper or colored paper. The same is true of newspaper – it can’t go with brown paper or colored paper.

When single-stream became popular some years ago, my company and other long-time recyclers were dismayed, even aghast. Treating recyclables the same way you treat the trash – in a trash truck - would be a terrible way to handle them, and would result in contamination and subsequent sorting difficulty. We know sorting is time-consuming and expensive, so sorting commingled materials compressed together would make it even more expensive.

In single-stream recycling, you give a residential household, or a business, a 96-gallon container and allow people to throw into it all paper and bottles and cans. Then, a company picks up the recyclables, dumps them in a compactor truck, compresses the materials under thousands of pounds of pressure, breaking some of the glass and compacting everything together. When this material is dumped on the tipping floors of sorting plants, something very difficult to sort has been created.

Higher Quality - Are you ready

The problem in our industry is that not all waste companies’ single-stream sorting plants have been sorting recyclable materials well. This is injuring the recycling markets and has caused some consuming companies to stop using recycled fiber or scrap. While I acknowledge that residents in communities, mayors, city councils and others like single-stream (it is easier), the people that don’t like it are paper mills, plastics processors and other recycling end markets that have to use poorly separated recyclables coming from some single-stream plants.

In April 2013 China initiated a policy called “Green Fence” under which it began enforcing a 2 percent contamination rule for commodity imports. Up until then they had not enforced the rule even though their contamination rate ranged as high as 25 percent.

Green Fence was no doubt a shock to the managers of some single-stream plants in the United States. Most had already invested in sorting systems, and then they were confronted with spending even more money to improve quality. In 2017 China initiated a new program, “National Sword,” demanding even better sorting and higher quality material. Subsequent policies demand even tighter contamination restrictions.


The best long-term solution would be to return to the three separated streams we had before single-stream: 1) commingled bottles and cans, 2) commingled paper and 3) cardboard/boxboard/brown paper. Each stream would be easier to sort than single-stream. We know sorting is expensive and time-consuming, so saving sorting costs this way would be important considering increased costs in collection. Different trucks will be needed to pick up again.

At curbside, another bin might be needed for some customers, but bottles and cans can be placed in blue plastic bags that will not be affected by weather. For the postconsumer market, the solution is relatively easy. Paper can go in the existing bin previously

used for single-stream and the bottles and cans in a blue bag. This involves more collection, but oil prices are likely to remain low for an extended period (thank goodness), and Asia may not buy as much as before for a long time, if ever. And, what Asia does buy is likely to require higher quality levels.

If single-stream plants run their sorting systems slower the materials can be sorted better. Many companies say they can’t do this due to the volume needed to be processed. Still, some way must be found to profoundly improve the sorting up front. Reducing contamination in incoming loads could help. Another consideration is to negotiate with communities to raise prices if they wish to retain single-stream while offering an alternative lower fee for collecting in three separate streams.

For 20 years our company picked up from a community of 1,300 households east of Cleveland, concentrating on those three major streams. We did not compress the materials in a compactor truck. We took the bottles and cans to a materials recovery facility (MRF) for sorting. At that time, a MRF was a plant that took postconsumer recyclables divided into those streams. (A “dirty MRF” was one that took in postconsumer municipal solid waste and tried to pull out the recyclables.)

While we acknowledge that residents in communities, mayors, city councils and others like the ease of single-stream, the people that don’t like it are those ultimately paying for the material (paper mills, plastics processors and other end market consumers). As well, many of the people who have favor single-stream – mayors and city councils, township trustees, county solid waste district staff – have never run a recycling company. They never had to sell recycled plastic or paper in the commodity markets. They probably never considered the role of chemistry and physics in the process of recycling. Companies like mine pleaded with county officials and city councils before and during the single-stream changeover.

In our experience, many waste companies have always disliked recycling, because everything had to be sorted. Big waste companies have shareholders to please by maximizing profitability. The process they are most familiar with involves just one commodity, trash, that can be picked up using a high level of automation. It then can be compacted under thousands of pounds of hydraulic pressure. With these efficiencies, it has been possible to build worldwide, profitable trash companies.

Many of these same companies could not afford to take a lot of time to sort their recyclables, thus they committed to trying to use technology to sort via single-stream.

Even the best technology can struggle to sort well enough for the current market conditions. So, we have come full circle. Now these same waste companies are struggling with recycling again.

In previous down markets, the necessity to sort combined with lower-value markets caused some collection companies to throw the recyclables in the trash, even though they said they would recycle them.

Recycling is an especially challenging business because of the sorting requirements. And the sorting requirements are due to the laws of chemistry and physics. Those laws aren’t going to go away soon. Therefore, the best solution is go back to the three streams listed above.


What Do Plastic Recycling Symbols Means?

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What Do Plastic Recycling Symbols Mean?

Many foodservice businesses are interested in recycling the plastic bags and containers they use to store, prepare, and keep their food fresh. However, it can be difficult to determine what can be recycled and how to properly recycle these materials. Check out the infographic below to learn how plastic recycling numbers and symbols can help you determine how to recycle your waste, potential risks of each plastic, and what these products are recycled into.

What Are the Seven Main Plastics?

The seven main types of plastic resins are polyethylene terephthalate (PETE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP), and polystyrene (PS). The seventh category is designated as “other,” which can include polycarbonate resins, acrylic, polyactic fibers, nylon, and fiberglass, just to name a few.

Where Did Plastic Recycling Symbols and Numbers Come From?

To determine which type of plastic a container is made of, you should look for its Resin Identification Code (RIC), which is the number (between 1 and 7) within the triangular recycling symbol located on each plastic product. This plastic recycling code system was introduced by the Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) in 1988 to assist communities that were implementing recycling programs.

These recycling numbers will also help you determine if that type of plastic will be accepted by your local recycling programs. If you’re interested in learning more about recycling plastic, check out the infographic below.

Fibrex Group - Let's Talk Trash Infographic
Fibrex Group - Let's Talk Trash Infographic

Contact the Fibrex Group to learn more about recycling.


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!!