Green Recycling Products Blog

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.