Recycling Trends
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Recycling Trends

Growing population, scarcity of resources, and global warming are all valid concerns for those worried about the future. Yet, you wonder, what exactly is being done to help create a brighter future for the children of tomorrow? One of the biggest differences we can make for future generations is by learning more about recycling and how it’s changed in the last decade. We’ve compiled a list of some of the growing trends concerning recycling for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Zero Waste

Sounds like an impossible goal, right? Surprisingly enough, it’s not. In the last few years there has been a recent push toward reusing and recycling objects into something that can be used numerous times.  Even though it would be great to have no waste at all, diverting 90% of waste from landfills without the use of incinerators is still considered a success when it comes to zero waste.

Check out this article by The New York Times to learn more about zero waste and how some communities across the country are joining the movement.

Composting

Composting is an easy solution for limiting the amount of methane released in the atmosphere. Whenever organic materials are composted they are broken down into an affordable and nutrient rich soil amendment.

There are many benefits to composting:

  • It’s a natural and affordable alternative to chemical fertilizers.
  • Composting reduces landfill waste. Studies have shown one-third of landfill waste includes material that could have been composted.
  • Your kitchen and garden waste is recycled.
  • Helpful organisms are added to the soil whenever you use compost.

In some cities residences and businesses are required to compost. These mandates require individuals to dispose of all their organic materials (i.e. kitchen, yard and garden scraps) in city-provided compost bins rather than throwing them in the trash. After turning into humus rich compost, these materials are then sold as organically certified compost.

See our blog post on how to start your own compost here.

Pre-cycling

We all know the popular phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Pre-cycling means fewer materials are used before the product is shipped to consumers. This concept arose from a push for businesses and manufacturing companies to be held responsible for the lifecycle of their products. Companies were encouraged to design their products for the environment rather than ease of disposal.

The main focus of this trend is packaging. You may have noticed this change through the weight of the products you buy. Most packaging has become significantly lighter. For example, some water and soda bottles are thinner than they were before. It’s a slight change, but it’s a start.

Although pre-cycling is a relatively new idea, the amount of plastic and cardboard entering landfills has been reduced by at least 20 percent since its implementation. When you consider how much packaging the average consumer uses on a daily basis it’s amazing to think something so simple could make a relatively big impact.

Recycling Bins

There’s been a notable increase in the number of recycling bins seen in communities across the United States. You might even have noticed these containers while attending a festival, sporting event or music concert. Most individuals would rather immediately dispose of an item after they’re done using it rather than wait a couple of hours to recycle it properly.  The convenient placement of these recycling receptacles means you’re more likely to recycle without even thinking about it. It’s become easier and easier to recycle due to public concern and community involvement.

Trash Metering System

Some communities are beginning to charge residents for the amount of trash they throw away. This program, also known as Pay-As-You-Throw, encourages individuals to throw away less trash. To make things simple – the less trash thrown out, the less the individual pays.

This program has helped many communities save money, increase recycling and reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills by more than 44 percent annually. Check out WasteZero if you want to learn more.

What’s Next?

Sweden is leading the way when it comes to reducing waste. Check out this article on Sweden’s sustainable waste management. They use their garbage to generate heat for commercial buildings and homes through their waste-to-energy program. In fact, a mere four percent of Sweden’s waste ends up in landfills due to their stringent waste policies and programs. Talk about inspirational!

Even if you’re a recycling guru, there are still some items that are hard to recycle and seem destined for landfills. But wait! Check out TerraCycle before you chuck those toothbrushes, shoes, drink pouches, cigarette butts and other miscellaneous items in the trash. This innovative company repurposes these traditionally non-recyclable wastes “into new, innovative materials and products.” Very cool.

How Terracycle Works

How have your recycling habits changed over the years? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

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