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

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carry Reusable Bags on your Shopping Trips!

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, February 23, 2017

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

***Original posted at

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

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

*Original posted February 15, 2017 by Kelly Pickerel

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

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, February 08, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

*Original by Cole Rosengren - 2/2/17

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

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, February 01, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Educating fans on 'zero waste'

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

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

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

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

Use and reuse, year after year

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

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

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

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

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

Participation from the pros, vendors and everyone in between

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preparing to do it all again

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

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

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

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

Orginal by Kristin Musulin

Delaware updates recycling regulations to prohibit commingled collections

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fibrex GroupDelaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has announced the final approval of new regulations in the state's Universal Recycling Law (URL) that will take effect on February 21, 2017. The changes include updated definitions and clarified requirements geared toward improving residential and commercial recycling rates.

One of the main updates is that any "waste services provider" is now responsible for ensuring they don't commingle waste and recyclables. If a cart or container has contaminants they can document the issue, notify residents and dispose of the material. Providers are also expected to supply adequate single-stream recycling containers to multi-family residential customers.

The regulations clarify that commercial customers are expected to conduct annual reviews of their waste stream, identify recyclables and arrange for collection to divert them from landfills. Commercial customers have been required to recycle since 2014 under the existing URL statue, but the specifications were unclear.

The 2010 URL has helped increase Delaware's diversion rate to about 43%, though the state did not meet its goal of 50% diversion by 2015. In an effort to reach a goal of 85% by 2020 officials have been working to clarify the law and get more material from the multi-family and commercial sectors. Single-stream recycling has been mandatory in multi-family buildings since 2013 and some form of recycling has been required for commercial buildings since 2014. Although not everyone has been participating correctly.

For example, willful commingling in collection trucks has been documented and some haulers expressed concern over being responsible for any contaminants that residents might put in their containers. While state officials recognized these concerns they said that haulers have the option to not accept contaminated carts and held firm on the new requirement. Other logistical challenges around placing containers outside of multi-family or commercial buildings were also recognized, though kept in the updated regulations. Additional requirements around the role of property managers in all of these situations may help alleviate some of the work for haulers.

These changes come shortly after the state released its latest batch of annual recycling grants to boost local programs. The state has also been working to update its drop-off center system. Even in a small state such as Delaware some residents in rural areas still manage their own waste and contamination had been an issue at these centers as well.

*Original by Cole Rosengren – 1/25/17 -

8 Ways to Green your Inauguration Celebration

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fibrex GroupThe Presidential Inauguration this week is estimated to be one for the history books. Washington officials are expecting a record turnout, and television networks are predicting record viewing numbers. Whether you’re planning to partake in the inaugural festivities from Washington, D.C., or from the comfort of your home, here are eight tips to help green your fete.

1. Digitize Your Memories

Buttons, hats and shirts oh my! With an estimated 2.5 million people expected to converge on the capital for the Presidential Inauguration, souvenir offerings will be plentiful. In fact, 500 temporary licenses are expected to be issued for street vendors on Inauguration day alone. Websites and stores are offering inauguration souvenirs ranging from cuff links to golf balls.

Forego the urge to buy a bunch of souvenirs that won’t last, and digitize your memories instead. After all, a picture is truly worth a thousand words, and a picture of a Presidential Inauguration may be worth even more. We’re not saying a little Presidential pride isn’t in order, but you may find that when all is said and done, your picture is the most valuable keepsake from that historic day.

2. Let Go of the Past

America saw one of the longest and hardest fought campaigns in her history. With that came campaigns signs galore. If you haven’t already, it’s time to let go of the past and recycle those campaign signs.

Political signs are often made of cardboard, corrugated plastic or paper, which many cities recycle through curbside programs. Try using it as the backboard to advertise your upcoming garage sale or party. There are also many DIY projects that can be constructed with campaign signs, from birdhouse making to furniture building.

3. The More the Merrier

As mentioned above, city officials predict millions of people to converge on the capital for Inauguration Day. That will make getting into the city a bit more complicated than your average commute. Parking restrictions have been expanded to accommodate a record number of tour buses, so securing a parking space may prove hard to come by (and, most likely, expensive).

Make the trip more memorable and carpool with friends. Try a company like TripVerde, whose national ridesharing service pairs like-minded people headed to the Inauguration together, saving money, gas and the environment, “one carbon footprint at a time.”

4. Entertain Friends the Green Way

Hosting friends on Inauguration day? Leave your friends seeing green stars with your eco-conscious Inauguration party. From washable dishware to virtual invitations, it may be easier to host a party with both the Earth and the President-elect in mind than you think.

5. Traveling to DC?

Getting to the Inauguration by plane, train or automobile? Be mindful of your carbon footprint while traveling. enables you to calculate the impact of your travel. For example, an economy class roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Washington D.C., leaves a carbon footprint of 0.75 tons. To offset that amount, provides various reforestation and carbon reduction programs worthy of your donation. Or, you can lessen your air travel impact with some simple reduction tips.

6. Get In-the-Know

With the election of a new President comes a new energy cabinet and new energy and environmental policies. Get up-to-date about what’s going on. That way, you can watch the Inauguration with friends and impress them with your environmental policy know-how.

If a party isn’t in your future, discuss the President’s new energy policy around the water cooler and impress your boss. In a job crunch? Look into the future of green jobs and find yourself one step ahead of the pack.

7. Invest in Green Home Improvements

Anticipating an $1,000 economic stimulus check? We know it’s tempting to buy that Guitar Hero World Tour you didn’t get for Christmas. In uncertain economic times, however, it might be wiser to stretch your dollars and invest in some green home improvements.

Check out GREENandSAVE’s Return on Investment (ROI) calculator for over 50 home remodeling projects. They offer simple green remodel ideas, all with the goal of saving money, energy and the environment. For example, invest in a $180 high-efficiency shower head and save $300 each year, a ROI of 111.1 percent. Beyond helping you save money, you’ll be contributing to the new green economy and jobs on the horizon.

8. New Administration, New Year, New You

A new administration and a new year: a great time for that green makeover you’ve been considering. Whether it’s carpooling to work with a colleague or starting a recycling program at your school, a green makeover might be the eco-friendly karma you need to start the new year off on the right foot. Here are some fun ways to cement your commitment:

  • Take the Recycling Pledge with the National Recycling Coalition and increase your recycling efforts in 2017.
  • Calculate your energy savings and pledge to reduce your carbon footprint with The Green Ribbon Pledge.
  • Take the Conservation Pledge and spend more time outdoors, reduce and offset carbon emissions or volunteer for a local conservation group.

**Original post by Lori Brown

Reduce and recycle in 2017: a New Year's resolution you can keep

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Fibrex GroupEach year, many of us resolve to lose weight, floss more, and better ourselves in some way. This year, why not resolve to be kinder and gentler to our planet? You may find it’s much easier (and more sustainable) than other resolutions you might make.

Besides checking out the Fibrex Group recycling and collection solutions for your office, home, dorm or public space; and follow through on the following suggestions for 2017.

Five ways to get organized and reduce waste

Regain control of your surroundings and stuff during Get Organized Month this January by following these five easy and practical steps to reduce waste.

  1. Stop unwanted printed advertising mail.
  2. Buy in bulk to avoid excess packaging. For example, buy juice, snacks and other lunch items in bulk and use reusable containers to bring them to school or work.
  3. Buy smaller quantities of perishable foods. It saves rotten tomatoes from the landfill and saves you money!
  4. Shop with reusable bags beyond the grocery store. Remember to bring bags with you when you go to department and hardware stores, clothing retailers and everywhere else you shop!
  5. Reduce waste by purchasing durable goods and reusing, repairing, sharing, and donating items instead of throwing them away.

Top items to recycle consistently

How many of us have made a New Year's resolution only to realize we bit off more than we can chew? Keep your resolution simple to be successful by focusing on being better at recycling one or two more items. Once you’ve mastered those, challenge yourself to keep recycling more! Remember to recycle these items that most haulers take:

  • Aluminum and metal food and beverage cans;
  • Glass food and beverage bottles and jars;
  • Paper (including magazines, newspapers, cardboard and cereal boxes);
  • Plastic bottles and jugs (including milk and juice jugs, water and ketchup bottles);
  • Cartons (including milk cartons and juice boxes).

When you start with these standard items, it's easy to keep a New Year's recycling resolution. Remember to collect recyclables throughout your house; not just in the kitchen! Collect recyclables from the bathroom, laundry room and office as well. Keep yourself accountable by letting all your friends and family know your new goal. You might even be able to save money by downsizing your trash bin!

Why recycle?

A large part of what still goes in the trash is recyclable. When you reduce, reuse, or recycle you help:

  • Reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators;
  • Conserve natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals;
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change;
  • Help sustain the environment for future generations;
  • Help create the more than 4,500 products that use recycled materials.

Make that resolution to join your neighbors and recycle!

**Original by:

Celebrate a Zero Waste Holiday

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fibrex GroupHoliday Tips

Here are some ideas to help you give more and waste less during the holiday season:

Make gifts, such as food or clothing.

Choose vintage or used items, such as clothes, jewelry, furniture, and books. Find affordable second-hand gifts on donateNYC.

Give entertainment or experiences: museum memberships; tickets to movies, theater, concerts, or sporting events; or gift certificates to a favorite restaurant.

Give the gift of learning, such as language or music lessons, or classes in cooking, photography, or gardening.

Give your time or talent: baby-sitting, pet-sitting, computer help, or home repairs.

Pamper your recipient with a gift certificate for a massage, facial, or manicure; gym membership; or classes in yoga, Pilates, or dance.

Make a contribution to a favorite charity. Volunteer at a nonprofit organization.

Waste Less

Wrap presents in reusable gift bags or make your own wrapping paper from things like comics and old maps, or a pretty scarf. If you buy gift wrap, choose recycled.

Use reusable dishware when entertaining friends and family. If you use disposables, choose recycled.

Avoid wasting food by planning ahead and remixing leftovers.

Borrow or rent party supplies instead of buying new ones.

Send your old holiday lights to and receive a coupon for new energy efficient LED holiday lights.

Cut down on paper waste by sending email greetings instead of holiday cards.


Remember that others may want the stuff you no longer need. Donate your gently used clothing, furniture, books, and electronic goods.

The holiday season generates good spirits—and lots of recyclables. Recycle your greeting cards, gift boxes, wrapping paper, catalogs, and junk mail along with other paper and cardboard.

Recycle foil trays, bottles, cans, and anything that’s mostly metal or rigid plastic.

Recycle your Christmas tree into soil-enriching compost; remove lights, decorations, and stands before bringing to MulchFest or placing at the curb.

**Original posted at:

EPA and The Recycling Partnership Release Findings from State of Curbside Recycling Report

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Single stream & carts lead to highest-performing recycling programs

Fibrex Group

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership have just completed a study on the state of curbside recycling in the U.S. in 2016.

The resultant report – now publicly available HERE – provides analysis of key curbside recycling attributes that influence performance, notably: offering recycling wherever trash pickup is available, using carts to collect recyclables, and having robust engagement from municipal recycling program managers.

Characteristics of curbside recycling programs that were evaluated include type of container, frequency of collection, MSW tip fee level, material mix as well as a number of other variables.

“The EPA is working to support communities as they make the transition to sustainable materials management. The insights from this research and analysis will allow us to more tightly target our resource allocation to that end,” said, Jon Johnston EPA Region 4, Chief, Materials and Waste Management Branch. “We are very pleased with the depth and breadth of this report, as it shines a bright light on areas of opportunity that EPA can start supporting and the pathway to tangible progress.”

Key findings from the report show that there is not just one program characteristic that supports successful programs, but a host of attributes that, together, support the strongest recovery of bottles, cans, containers and paper. Annual pounds per household collected was the key performance indicator used to measure program performance and of the 465 geographically dispersed cities researched, the average was 357 lbs/hh/yr with an average MSW tip fee of $47 per ton.

“Entering into this research, our goal was to simply evaluate common attributes of high-performing programs, but the findings go far beyond that,” noted Cody Marshall, Technical Assistance Lead for The Recycling Partnership. “Recent research by the State of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality shows that there is roughly 800 to 1,000 pounds of recyclables available in the household each year. There are great opportunities to recover more of that material across the country. This curbside report points to strategies that lead to higher recovery and clearly more resources need to be made available to local governments to unlock their full potential.”

When evaluating the programs with higher-than-average recovery (over 400 lbs/hh/yr), common themes quickly took shape. All (100%) of these had some type of public action that influenced curbside recycling, 96% were single-stream, 93% collected automatically and 83% of those high-performing communities were using carts.

“This report provides key insights about what drives successful recycling programs,” said Craig Cookson, Senior Director, Recycling & Energy Recovery, Plastics Division, American Chemistry Council (ACC) and Executive Committee Member of The Recycling Partnership. “ACC is a proud member of The Recycling Partnership because informed actions at the local, regional and national levels, amplified by strategic partnerships, are producing measurable on-the-ground results.”

**Original posted 12/13/16 by The Recycling Partnership (