HOW WE STEM THE TIDE

IN A WORLD THAT CAN SEEM overwhelmed by potentially eternal plastic waste, are biodegradables the ultimate solution? Probably not. But it’s complicated. The industry is still debating what “biodegradable” actually means. And some plastics made of fossil fuels will biodegrade, while some plant-based “bioplastics” won’t.

Biodegradable plastics have been around since the late 1980s. They initially were marketed with the implied promise that they’d somehow disappear once they were disposed of, just as leaves on the forest floor are decomposed by fungi and soil microbes. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

Biodegradables don’t live up to their promise, for example, in the dark, oxygen-free environment of a commercial landfill or in the cool waters of the ocean, if they should end up there. You can’t throw them in your backyard compost either. To break down, they require the 130-degree heat of an industrial composter. Many industrial composters accept only plastics that meet certain standards, ensuring they will leave no fragments behind that can harm the environment or human health. And if you throw some biodegradables in with recyclables, you might ruin the latter, creating a mix that can no longer be relied on to make durable new plastic. In 2015 the United Nations Environment Program wrote off biodegradables as an unrealistic solution that will neither reduce the amount of plastic flowing into the oceans nor prevent potential chemical or physical harm to marine life. It concluded that the label “biodegradable” may actually encourage littering.

Some engineers are looking for ways around these obstacles. Jenna Jambeck and her colleagues at the University of Georgia’s New Materials Institute are using polymers synthesized by microbes to make packaging they hope will compost readily and biodegrade in the ocean. Corn chip bags are their first target.

It’s a tall order. Even the best biodegradable product won’t magically disappear. A plastic container robust enough to carry a gallon of milk can’t decompose like paper. A flowerpot, one of Polymateria’s experimental products, could take up to two years to dissolve if tossed in a ditch, Dunne concedes. Biodegradables, some critics say, don’t address the fundamental problem: our throwaway culture.

“What is it that we are promoting?” asks Ramani Narayan, a Michigan State University chemical engineering professor. “Throw it away, and eventually it will go away?” The more responsible approach, he says, is a “circular economy” model, in which everything is reused or recycled and “any ‘leakage’ into the environment, whether biodegradable or not, is not acceptable.”

China is providing motivation. For nearly three decades it has bought about half the world’s recyclable plastic. But this year it called a halt to most scrap imports. Recyclables are now piling up in the countries that generated them. “We hope it will push towards more circular management.”

To learn more about this National Geographic article by #LaurieParker and GearedforGreen sustainability, recycling, raw material, circular supply chain services, please contact us at:

GearedforGreen – Daniel Schrager, President, GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327 info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com

Equipment Used

It’s an exciting time to be in the Plastics Recycling Equipment Business. For innovative equipment dealers and process developers, there’s more opportunity than ever…if you are willing to grow outside of the box.

Today’s plastics sustainability climate is ripe with innovation. Along with growing pressure from environmental organizations and within our plastics industry itself, there are mounting initiatives all across North America driving plastics recycling growth.

Eco supply chains are connecting Brands and Plastics Manufacturers with Waste Collectors, Plastic Recycling firms and Sustainable Raw Material suppliers, to create transparent connected Closed Loop supply chains. It isnt a passing fad. Circular Supply Chains are increasingly becoming the norm across our plastics industry and in many other industry sectors globally. Companies are working collaboratively across the supply chain to their own benefit but this collaboration is also driving growth, profitability, and innovation that benefits our entire plastics industry.

Eco supply chains are also creating significant opportunities for new and used equipment dealers that know where to find used equipment and have access and expertise in plastics recycling equipment, especially used recycling equipment. There is tremendous value having used plastic recycling equipment expetise!

Traditionally dealers buy and sell used plastic recycling equipment, and benefit on the profit margins they earn on (one time sales). The more one time sales they produce, the more annual revenue created.

Today dealers are also connecting in eco supply chains and leveraging their expertise and resources to create (ongoing long term revenue).

As example, an innovative growing plastic recycling firm developed proprietary technologies to recycle challenging “hard to recycle” plastic waste. They plan to scale their business to 100 million pounds annual plastic recycling. This innovation offers substantial growth opportunity! The innovative plastic recycling firm already owns and has the core equipment and technology in operation, however in order to scale to 100m, they need to add ancillary equipment over time such as grinders, shredders, metal separation, conveyors, wash tanks, silos, etc. This used equipment is out there and available in the market, often sitting idle or in inventory, and equipment dealers have the expertise to get it.

The challenge.. How does innovative plastic recycling firm add this ancillary equipment and at the same time manage their financial resources when they are starting out?

The answer.. Connecting in an eco supply chain whereby used equipment dealers provide the ancillary equipment “in partnership” with innovative plastic recycling firms and share the revenue of the business together.

This eco supply chain approach benefits everyone in the supply chain. Used equipment doesn’t sit idle waiting for a sale. Dealers leverage their expertise and resources for a piece of the action. Innovative plastics recycling firms gain access to much needed ancillary equipment without having to put up money. Equipment dealers earn ongoing revenue beyond the value of the used equipment. By connecting in an eco supply chain, equipment dealers and innovative plastic recycling firms (de-risk) together. Partners in an eco supply chain share revenue. Plastic recycling rates climb.

To learn more about how you can leverage your used equipment resources and expertise and develop long term revenue connecting in an eco supply chain, contact #GearedforGreen.

By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327 info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com
Eco supply chains

china ban 2

Some see the China plastics ban as a huge problem, others see it more as a long term opportunity. We see the proverbial pet bottle as 1/2 full.

1st came the Green Fence… a warning shot. Now the National Sword. Both cool names btw… kudos to China. The China policies (limiting) imports of plastic scrap materials is having a profound change to the plastics recycling eco system here in the USA and around the world. The question is equally WHY and WHAT NOW?

WHY? – We’ve all heard lots of complaints, confusion, and disagreement to the new China National Sword policy, some related to short notice of these new scrap import restrictions, others related to lack of clarity about what recyclables are banned or allowed and for how long. Truth be told, we all saw it coming or should have because it was kind of … “Wild West”.

Irrespective of the impacts the “Sword” is having on our scrap and recycling markets here in the USA, it seems clear the Chinese government is concerned that (garbage) is being willfully sent to their country disguised as recyclables. An official of the Ministry of Environmental Protection told the press in July that “the problem of foreign garbage is loathed by everyone in China.” And the press reports also indicate that a recent documentary, PLASTIC CHINA, alleging the health and environmental harms of imported plastics for recycling, spurred Chinese officials to take action.

SO WHAT NOW ?- The world is very much a connected marketplace and still represents enormous opportunity to trade recyclables and sustainables on a global basis, but what we trade .. where we trade.. how we trade .. are changing along with population growth and environmental issues. More people = more consumption = more products = more waste.

America for the most part has maintained status quo continuing to make products with poor end of use options and exporting much of our plastic waste around the world thinking cheaper labor is a solution. It isn’t. Today 90% + of all plastic products used in the USA find their way to landfills or worse, oceans, beaches, etc. Obviously we haven’t yet implemented a strong solution.

It’s important (we) see the forest through the trees, and adapt. When we say (we) we mean product and packaging manufacturers, and consumer brands, retailers, and consumers, along with solid waste, recycling, and raw material professionals.

Everyone in the USA supply chain involved in making, selling, using, and recycling plastic products have good reason to be concerned. China imports about 30 percent of the plastic waste collected for recycling in America. When China stops buying plastic scrap from America and across the world, it creates a glut here in the USA and as supply-demand dictates, commodity prices drop, leading to reduced recycling rates, increased landfill disposal, and more companies leaving the industry because they can’t make money.

The China National Sword policy is no doubt a problem today… but the important discussion we need to have is … what effect will it have long term and will it ultimately drive innovation, investment, and sustainable manufacturing here in the USA ?

THE PROBLEM ISN’T JUST A USA PLASTICS RECYCLING PROBLEM… IT’S A USA INDUSTRY SUPPLY CHAIN PROBLEM!

It impacts us all up & down the supply chain, including plastic products and packaging manufacturers that create all the plastic products that are causing all this waste, major brands using plastics to make & package their products, retailers selling all this stuff, and consumers buying all this stuff. It also includes the solid waste management, recycling, and raw material companies that collect and recycle plastic waste after it is all used and that supply sustainable or non sustainable raw material to make plastic products.

We are all part of the circular economy (the eco supply chain) and we are all part of the circular solution! We ourselves have the ability to solve the problem of plastic waste … if we work together!

For those interested in going circular to collaborate to find better ways to make plastic products & packaging more sustainably and to take better responsibility together for these products at end of use, we’d ❤ to talk and find ways to collaborate together.

By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com

cardboard box reuse1

For years recycling cardboard boxes has been a centerpiece for corporate recycling programs. Cardboard is widely recyclable and for years there has been relatively strong domestic & international markets for corrugated material. Corrugated cardboard scrap also known as OCC (old corrugated cardboard) is generated by many local, regional, national businesses across industries. In 2016 more than 40 million tons of paper related scrap was recycled, much of which was cardboard.

While cardboard box recycling is an excellent approach to handling used boxes, cardboard box reuse, when applicable, offers even better improved (economic, environmental, and productivity) benefits up & down the supply chain.  

As a sustainability company involved in circular eco-supply chains, GearedforGreen looks for ways to improve ROI in REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE ♻ programs for clients. Cardboard box reuse is a great approach to improved ROI.

We work with many companies generating good quality 1x used cardboard boxes perfectly capable of reuse, and with many businesses concurrently looking to find good quality suppliers of 1x used cardboard boxes as alternative to having to pay up & buy new boxes.

As part of our eco supply chain sustainability program, our GearedforGreen network connects companies and industries matching used cardboard box suppliers and buyers, helping everyone in the supply chain improve economic, environmental, and productivity ROI.

Many companies involved in manufacturing receive parts and components delivered in cardboard boxes they use just 1x. Many other companies including retailers and distributors use huge amounts of cardboard boxes to send products inter-company between facilities and to trading partners. There is a substantial reuse marketplace for all these 1x used cardboard boxes. Managing the connection between the two is no easy task however, so we partnered with industry to maximize box reuse ROI making cardboard box 📦 reuse valuable and mainstream.

In terms of environmental benefit and ROI, reusing cardboard boxes versus recycling reduces carbon footprint 👣 CO2 substantially and requires far less resources including water and energy consumption. Clients participating in GearedforGreen “Pack Share” box reuse programs also get monthly environmental reports including Life Cycle Assessment documentation showing carbon savings, which are helpful to sustainability score cards. For those businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint, cardboard box reuse is a great option.

In terms of man hour productivity benefits and ROI, reusing cardboard boxes versus recycling reduces man hours by $30.00 per ton on average associated with reduced labor and handling not having to bale cardboard boxes, and reduced movement from 3 touch points down to 1 touch point, not having to triple handle boxes from generation point to baler to trailer.

In terms of economic benefits and ROI, reusing cardboard boxes versus recycling increases revenue for suppliers in our network 40%-60% on average over the last 5 years, reduces customer cost of boxes in our network by 25%-30% on average over the last 5 years, and provides a far more consistent dependable market as a result of getting fixed annual prices for box reuse instead of fluctuating OBM prices for recycling. Box reuse programs also reduce transportation cost, reduce labor cost, and reduce equipment cost associated with baling.

The infrastructure and client base to support large expansion

in the cardboard box reuse market is significant. 

To serve the growing box reuse market, GearedforGreen eco-supply chain network focuses on four (4) areas; warehousing collection sortation, logistics transportation service, environmental CSR compliance documentation, and circular supply chain partner expansion.

  • Today we host 30+ regional sorting collection facilities throughout the United States providing local warehouse collection / sortation / quality control resources for suppliers and customers in our “Pack Share” box reuse network.
  • We provide full transportation logistics services including drop trailer programs at more than 250 facilities across America.
  • We provide monthly CSR environmental reports documenting carbon footprint saving.
  • To support the growing demand for reliable box reuse nationwide, GearedforGreen eco supply chain partnerships include the largest network of collection, sortation, quality control providers, and end user customers making us the largest network for 1x used cardboard boxes in America.

It is widely known that sustainability and circular supply chain initiatives can reduce cost, add efficiency, increase innovation, and strengthen and improve supply chain partnerships. Leading businesses worldwide are incorporating circular sustainable supply chains into their operations quickly.

Less known yet equally important, sustainability can significantly improve customer-consumer relationships leading to improved brand value and top line revenue.  By effectively communicating your sustainability initiatives, businesses can leverage their sustainability in the market to gain significant advantages. We urge all our clients to engage in consumer facing eco brand initiatives that connect with consumers.

To learn more about our GearedforGreen eco-supply chain sustainability services and how our “Pack Share” Cardboard Box Reuse program increases your economic, environmental, and productivity ROI, please contact us at 888-398-GEAR (4327), info@gearedforgreen.com, or visit us at www.gearedforgreen.com.

 By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com