As a B-Corp certified company committed to building a more sustainable world, RTS is dedicated to providing innovative waste management services that facilitate proper recycling. However, greenwashing and fraudulent recycling practices are, sadly, part of an industry that is struggling to keep up with demand. Here we look at some of those issues and how our detailed diversion metrics and waste stream analytics are crucial to solving these problems.
Across the US, citizens are diligently sorting recyclables—separating paper from plastic, washing glass bottles and jars, taking out the organics on a weekly basis. In fact, the increasing number of people embracing recycling is cause for some optimism, with the amount of waste being diverted from landfill more than doubling since the 1990s. Even corporations seem to be catching on to the idea that responsible recycling is the future, and today, there are countless programs designed to minimize waste and increase recycling in all its forms.
However, while we bask in the warm and fuzzy glow of our newfound eco-ethics, all is not well within the recycling industry. A litany of issues is slowly being uncovered as the industry grows, with certain organizations and companies hiding behind consumer uncertainty while engaging in opaque practices. From collection, to the transportation and processing of recyclables, each stage of the journey is affected and those involved are increasingly turning to greenwashing to sell services and products for huge profits.
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing is a term that first appeared in the 1980s, describing the corporate practice of advertising a company or product as significantly more eco-friendly than it was in reality. At its conception, the term specifically addressed the glossy advertisements of oil companies, highlighting a jarring juxtaposition between images of thriving eco-systems that were being used in adverts, and an industry that was responsible for countless ecological crimes. Today, the term has been expanded to include any claims that gloss over the ecological realities, and is particularly relevant to the current state of the recycling industry.
For example, in 2016 it was estimated that China imported two thirds of the world’s plastic waste for processing. In 2017, however, China announced a broad ranging ban on waste imports, effectively severing a crucial link in the chain. Recent reports from the UK have highlighted how many supposedly responsible companies responded, and without a viable outlet, millions of tons of plastic waste were illegally dumped in the ocean or simply sent to landfill. Perhaps most tellingly, these companies stuck resolutely to their eco credentials, only admitting to any wrongdoing as the scandal came to light in the press.
What’s Next for the Recycling Industry?
The dramatic U-turn from China has highlighted a severe lack of infrastructure in the countries that produce the most waste—namely the US and Europe. In truth, we simply cannot process the amount of waste we create each year, and so while recycling may be seen by many consumers as the perfect answer to a growing problem, it is in fact a last resort. More emphasis should be placed on the reduction of potential waste materials from at all junctures of society.
It is clear that greater investment is needed within the recycling industry if we hope to make a dent in the growing piles of waste. This investment must be in the form of larger and more efficient processing facilities, but also how the industry accounts for the materials that are supposedly recycled. Both governments and consumers must be able to verify that waste is, in fact, recycled and not simply dumped. Until this is the case, greenwashing and the recycling industry are likely to be firm friends as we head towards an uncertain future.
Did you know that almost 98% of a vehicle can be recycled? The raw metals can be smelted, purified, and reused in thousands of other applications. The glass and plastics from the vehicle can also be melted down and rubber from tires can be reused. Liquids like engine oil, brake fluid, and transmission fluids can either be neutralized and made safe or reusable in other applications.
Nearly 25 cars are recycled every minute across the world and the scrap industry processes just short of 145 million tons of recyclable material each year into raw materials for industrial manufacturing. When compared to extracting raw materials from the earth, recycling a junk car saves 90% in raw materials, 75% in energy, 86% in reduced air pollution, 76% reduction of water pollution, 40% reduction of water use, and 97% reduction in mining waste.
For more information, check out this Infographic by The Clunker Junker
Household recycling in the past was nothing more than going to the nearest public bin and disposing of garbage. With years passing by we now see green,blue and brown recycling bins that are filled with recyclable materials ready to be reused. Easy to recycle materials like paper, vegetable peels are easily taken care of but what about E-waste? Do you even think once before throwing your old phones or computer parts in the bin? Certainly not.
E-waste is something that needs to be sorted first before you throw them and needs special care considering environmental repercussions.
What is WEEE?
WEEE’ stands for ‘Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment’ and is an umbrella term that sums up the recycling of household electronics large and small, such as fridges, computers, TV.
Technology these days have fast outpaced the needs of the population. Companies world over are constantly innovating and improving their products. This has led to upgrading and discarding the old devices. In this age of quick disposal of goods, it is significantly important to take up recycling seriously.
Importance of recycling
Recycling is one of the best ways you could cast a positive impact on the world. It is best both for humans and the natural environment. As per the UN report on Global E-waste monitor, the world generated about 44.7 million metric tonnes of E-waste. It is estimated that out of this only 20% is recycled through appropriate channels.
For many of us, we don't know what to do with our electronic waste when they reach their end life. We generally stuff them in boxes and carelessly throw away with the rest of general rubbish. But do you know much of electronic waste could be reused? Aluminium is a good example. It is an element which does not degrade in quality when it goes through the recycling process.
If all the aluminium is recycled through proper channels, then the need to cast fresh aluminium will no longer be required.
The steel from your computer and mobile phones could be melted and made into new machine parts. The IC(Integrated Circuit) boards contain precious metals like gold, platinum that could be transformed into just about anything.
With so many advantages of recycling your e-waste, there is no way you should be throwing it off in the garbage.
Why is safe disposal of WEEE necessary?
The reason why we need to ensure safe disposal of WEEE are the health risk associated it.
The harmful gases like HFC (Hydrofluorocarbon) which are associated with the improper disposal of your fridge and air conditioner are just some of the risks. Even the smaller electricals contain potentially damaging substances like cadmium and lithium. Batteries contain lead and mercury that have a devastating impact on the environment as it enters the food chain.
In fact, metals like cadmium can accumulate over the years into the food chain, and the toxicity levels of these metals can cause severe kidney damage.
Why do you want to put something in the environment that will eventually come back to you? So recycling and eliminating it altogether is the best option and the most sensible decision.
Moreover, if you own a business and fail to comply with government’s WEEE regulations, then you could face several financial consequences. So in order to save yourself from unnecessary fines, it is important to dispose off WEEE appropriately to reduce the risk of incurring government penalties.
Types of WEEE and their hazards?
WEEE recycling is one of the best ways to get rid of the electronic waste. Companies like TDS Safeguard provides the best WEEE service, and they can get it disposed off legally in an eco-friendly manner.
Treatment of WEEE includes a complex mix of product types and materials, and every metal has to go through proper recycling channels. These are lot of health hazards associated with improper disposal and recycling of these wastes. Some of the commonly found metals in e-waste include the following :
Refrigerants– Mostly found in cooling or heating appliances like freezers and radiators. They must be carefully removed before going ahead with the crushing process. These refrigerants contain ammonia that pose a risk to fire and explosion and is poisonous too.
PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)– They are found inside your computer motherboards in resistors and capacitors. These chemicals could cause potential harm to the environment if not treated properly before recycling. If they enter the food chain, they can cause liver damage or even cancer.
Volatile organic compounds– Found in almost all printers and photocopiers. They should be removed from the machine before recycling as they are potential cancer-causing agents. The Toner cartridges must be emptied first before going ahead with the recycling process.
Radioactive substances– Radioactive materials are cancer-causing agents. Your smartphones and tablets contain traces of indium oxide that pose serious health risks to the environment so proper method of recycling should be followed.
Components containing mercury– Mercury is commonly used in mobile phones and fluorescent lamps. They are also found the computer monitors (commonly known as CRT monitors) and in almost all the indoor and outdoor lights.
Upcycling is great idea where you find new uses for your old devices. Old components could be swapped and made best use if you frequently work on computers.
Save the old batteries or chargers that could be used with new computers when something goes wrong with your new device
What should you do ?
You must make sure you store waste safely and securely to prevent pollution and try keeping hazardous, special waste separately.And in case you are unsure about what to do contact TDS safeguard London who are experts in WEEE recycling. They will take care of all your needs as they have proper government permit you can rely upon.
So if you have old electronic items that are fit for use, it’s always best to sell them before you decide to dispose them. Else you can get them recycled and get money out of it. These wastes when not disposed in the right way could account for a large amount of waste in the environment.
As consumer technology becomes more advanced with every passing year — whether it’s the latest smartphone model or an ultra-high-definition streaming media player — it’s easy to become fixated on having the latest gadget on the market every time something is released. Yet with so many people standing in line outside tech retailers to wait for a product release or camping out in front of a superstore for Black Friday, the question of what happens to the devices those gadgets replace looms large. It’s because of the accelerated nature of consumer technology that unwanted electronics — or e-waste — is one of the biggest environmental concerns society faces today, with nearly 50 million tons of unwanted electronics expected to be generated worldwide in 2018.
E-waste is a particularly thorny problem from an ecological standpoint because it doesn’t simply take space in landfills like other types of waste. The rare metals and hazardous materials used to manufacture many electronics can pollute the ground and water supplies if disposed of improperly. Although many of these materials can be recycled, that recycling frequently takes place in impoverished nations where safety standards often are non-existent. Using acid to dissolve circuit boards and reclaim metals, for example, can result in toxic mercury being released into the environment — in turn, potentially causing illness.
A big contributor to the e-waste problem, ironically, is one of the smallest components of any electronic device — the cords. Just about every new device we purchase comes with a charging cord or another type of connection cable or both. These often are made with the same hazardous materials as the devices to which they are connected. Nonetheless, because they’re not as large, they tend to be overlooked when recycling e-waste. Being more sustainable and responsible when it comes to e-waste means not forgetting about cords and cables.
The accompanying guide created by Cable Leader lists some of the best ideas for recycling cables and cords from your electronic devices. Pay attention to it, and this important element of sustainability won’t be lost in the rush for the next tech product.
While admittedly recycling rates are improving, and initiatives are being put in place to encourage adopters to be considerate with their rubbish, the world’s overall waste distribution remains a large problem. Each day we face new challenges with recycling such as the recent decision by China, the largest importer of recyclable materials, to ban foreign waste. Berkeley Build, a luxury construction company, decided to embark on a creative project to encourage more people to recycle and warn people of the consequences of their actions. They created three powerful images of famous cityscapes recreated out of recyclable waste. Scenes depict landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty holding a Starbucks cup and a needle, and the Eiffel Tower constructed out of a combination of drink cans, bottles and plastic forks. The images are designed to portray a dystopian outlook and create a shock factor. It has become the norm to see rubbish on the street, food wrappers, cigarette buds, chewing gum but these images take things a little further and show what could happen if we continue to normalise this behaviour and don’t act upon it. The creative works are extreme, but they certainly make a statement.
The landmarks in the images are constructed from waste, not only to make a cultural statement but to also highlight what materials can be recycled. There is much confusion around what you can put in what bins, and the complications and lack of understanding are partially responsible for people shying away from recycling. The images play on people’s favourite brands and act as a visual to educate people on the what type of waste is recyclable. The several page manuals you get are not appealing enough and can over-complicate things, but Berkeley Build thought a shocking visual was more likely to get noticed and draw attention.
Source: Berkeley Build
It is fair to say that if the entire world recycled absolutely everything, then the planet would be an entirely different place. But if our worldwide productive recycling strategies halted for a considerable amount of time this would be very damaging.
The most obvious difference we would see if everybody recycled in the world is how much cleaner the planet would be. With our minds set on recycling, nobody would litter plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, glass and more. Our roads, pavements and fields will be clear of recyclable waste and hopefully general waste as well.
Worldwide landfill sites would shrink considerably, which would not only create more room for non-recyclable waste but we would also see a noticeable drop in the release of harmful chemicals and gasses from landfill sites. Some plastics are particularly toxic, such as plastic shopping bags. After years of lying in landfill, harmful microscopic particles get released into the atmosphere, causing potential harm to animals and humans – this would end if all plastics were recycled.
It’s renowned that our oceans are currently littered with plastics which are simply dumped as an easy method of disposal – this is completely wrong. Marine animals are clearly open to harm and us humans that eat fish and other sea creatures are too if that particular animal has come into contact with waste plastic. Clear and clean oceans would be fantastic to see one day but for that to happen we need the world to recycle everything.
Plants and trees would also be positively affected if we all recycled. There would be less of a need for raw materials which would save trees and rainforests from being flattened. Recycling innovators, QCR point out that recycling a single glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 100-Watt light bulb, and that 28 billion glass bottles are sent to landfill every year. Imagine how much energy would be saved in the UK – and the potential worldwide – if all glass bottles were recycled. This is due to the fact that recycling requires a lot less energy than creating products from raw materials like trees. Cutting out processes like this would lower the world’s carbon footprint by an extraordinary amount.
The world is getting better at recycling but we are still decades from perfection. If our progress were to stall, then our oceans and landfill sites would continue to fill with poisonous plastics.
Three increases are happening worldwide which means we cannot afford to relax our attitude towards recycling.
Firstly the world’s population is increasing. High life expectancy levels means there are more people on Earth than ever before. More people results in more waste.
Secondly, the world is getting richer. More people can afford to buy products, which means an increase in packaging to house the products being purchased – most of which will be manufactured from or stored in plastic containers.
Lastly, in an increasingly fast paced world, workers and commuters are opting for the convenience and choosing to buy (packaged) food and drink on the go. Unfortunately, the side effect of the convenience culture is that more plastic is being produced and that this plastic is usually be disposed of in a curb side bin as opposed to being recycled. We currently don’t have enough bins dedicated to recycling in our towns and cities to solve this issue.
The problem of commuters dumping their waste packaging in ordinary bins can also be related to the majority of the world. Without the right processes and recycling education in place, we will continue to bin recyclables wherever is most convenient. Not many people at present will finish their food and carry empty packaging until they find a recycling bin. To solve this problem, our public bins need be more geared towards recycling with separate, well labelled sections.
In order to make serious progress with recycling, the world needs to understand the benefits if everybody did recycle and the damage that could be done if our progress falters.
Worldwide recycling may seem farfetched, but the potential should impact should not be dismissed. Plastic waste in particular is starting to be acknowledged by governments across the globe, with China banning waste plastic imports and the UK aiming to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042. It is slow progress but at least inroads are being made.
Moving away from your home is a difficult and stressful event, regardless of the reason behind the move. Apart from this, it causes a lot of air pollution (due to transportation), waste (due to an improper choice of packing supplies) and even debris. In other words, it can become a true ecological disaster, which is a proper nightmare for anyone who is green-minded. Fortunately, avoiding this problem may not be as difficult as it seems since there are a number of ways to make your relocation eco-friendly. With this in mind, here are five tips to help you do so.
Reusable moving supplies
When it comes to the move, you will need many boxes and bags, yet the choice of going with cardboard, plastic, paper or even wood is all yours. A lot of people underestimate the importance of sturdy wooden crates, and your ability to reuse them is quite a boon. According to one survey, about 11 percent of all Australians have moved five times or more in the past 15 years. That being said, it is quite clear that investing in reusable moving supplies is not a wasted investment.
Sell or donate
Apart from being the conscientious thing to do, tidying up the place you’re leaving behind is a great way to declutter the inventory you are about to relocate. Here, you will see just how many unnecessary items you’ve hoarded in the previous years or months, which is also a great opportunity to get rid of some of it. First of all, you might want to look for the items you might sell and offer them on eBay or even throw a garage sale. If there are some items you don’t believe will yield a great ROI, you might want to look for a cause to donate to and, therefore, at least do a good deed. Before you do so, however, it might be worth your while to research where you can donate the things you own.
As for the items you can’t sell or donate, you need to dispose of them for good. Still, you need to find the eco-friendliest way to do so. Nonetheless, this can take a lot of work, seeing as how recycling different materials means making a thorough selection of all the items that need to go. Both the research of proper ways to recycle each material and the effort to actually do so are a matter that takes a lot of effort. If you have a backyard, you might even want to try composting, in order to give at least some of it back to mother earth.
Don’t take absolutely everything
Next, when it comes to the transportation of the items from your former home to the next one, you will find that the most cost-effective and the greenest way to make the move is to prioritize. The reason behind this is quite simple. Let’s say for a minute that you’re moving from Sydney to Brisbane and are, therefore, looking for Ute hire Brisbane options. The number of trucks that you will have to hire, even the size of the truck you’re hiring, depends on the number of items you are carrying to your target location. In other words, the less you decide to bring, the lower the carbon footprint of your move and the less costly the move itself will be.
Eco-friendly farewell party
Finally, a lot of people like to throw a farewell party before they move. Needless to say, this party should also be eco-friendly. When it comes to invites, make sure they are in verbal or digital form, seeing as how this will help you cut down on paper. Next, hire a recycling unit that will make it easy for you to dispose of any party leftovers later on. Finally, make sure to explore eco-friendly and biodegradable dishware and serving ware for your party. Bowls, compartment trays, cups and cones can all be eco-friendly if you invest enough effort. Luckily, in the age of the internet, this is not nearly as difficult as it once was.
At the end of the day, if there’s one thing you need to keep in mind, it is that eco-friendly relocating doesn’t take a lot of money, it takes a lot of time. Because of this, you need to start planning your relocation on time. This will give you enough space to sell, research your donating options and properly dispose of all the items you can’t carry with you. Apart from this, it will ensure that you have enough time to plan everything to the letter and in this way, ensure that it’s all going according to plan.
By reducing the amount of natural resources you consume, reusing items that would otherwise go to waste, and recycling trash so it can be re-purposed, you’re helping ensure a brighter future for the children of today. However, planning for the future not only includes taking steps in the present day, but also preparing for tomorrow. By teaching children good conservation practices today, you’ll contribute to a cleaner future. Children who learn how to reduce, reuse and recycle now will gain the foundation they need to pass those practices on to their children and continue preserving natural resources.
Although you may live the principles of “reduce, reuse and recycle” every day in your life, it might be difficult for your children to see what you’re doing and understand why it’s important. Getting your kids involved in your efforts to reduce your family’s environmental footprint is a great way to inspire them to make eco-friendly choices later in life. There are numerous ways to teach your children how.
For example, you could help your kids learn the importance of reducing the amount of waste they generate during your regular trips to the grocery store. You can explain to them why you use reusable shopping bags instead of plastic or paper ones from the store. You can encourage them to help you find the products that use the least amount of packaging such as bulk breakfast cereals.
Helping your kids understand the importance of reusing can be as easy as encouraging them to donate their old, unwanted toys or books. You could use refillable soap dispensers and ditch paper napkins in favor of cloth. Attempting to repair damaged or broken toys before getting rid of them also helps teach kids that simply throwing items away is often extremely wasteful. Finally, asking your kids to help around the house by separating waste into recyclable and non-recyclable trash can teach them the principles of recycling and why it’s good for the environment.
There are so many ways to get your kids involved in good sustainability practices around the home. The following guide includes many of the best ideas. You reduce, reuse and recycle because you want to leave behind the best possible world for your children. It’s important to help kids understand that they need to take responsibility, too.
Checklist created by RMPUSA
Some manufacturers may claim a “green mattress”, but do those claims hold true when there are no set standards? In some ways they do, but consumers have to understand what those certifications really mean. Knowing how to read and discern which certifications are more important, you can make choices that support you and your family’s health as well as the health of the environment.
What Does “Green” Really Mean?
The term green, when applied to a mattress, doesn’t apply to a defined standard. Along with terms like natural, organic, or all-natural, green could mean that one component of the mattress is biodegradable or it may indicate that the cotton used to make the outer cover of the mattress was grown and harvested without pesticides. Mattresses are made of many components and materials, which makes it difficult to find one that’s entirely green.
Certifications give you a better idea of what’s in the mattress and the environmental footprint left behind, but not all certifications are equal. Try looking for certifications from organizations that focus on environmentally-friendly practices, social responsibility, human health issues. That may mean the mattress has several certifications because some organizations focus on human health issues while others monitor the use of pesticides and chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
A few worth watching for include:
- Eco-Institut: This German accreditation organization tests building products and textiles for harmful emissions and substances. When it comes to mattresses, they mostly monitor the latex industry, which also happens to produce some of the most environmentally-friendly mattresses on the market.
- GreenGuard: If you’re worried about harmful emissions from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), look for a GreenGuard certification.
- OEKO-TEX Standard 100: OEKO-TEX tests textiles for harmful substances and checks all aspects of the materials for potential health threats.
If environmental impact concerns you, look for one or more of these:
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS): GOTS certification deals with organic fibers both of the raw materials and the completed textiles. They focus on the environment and social sustainability of products while also monitoring human health issues.
- Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS): GOLS works hand in hand with GOTS, but they specifically target latex. Latex can be either biodegradable, as in the case of natural latex, or not, as with synthetic latex made from petroleum products. They make sure that any latex labeled as “natural” meets certain benchmarks.
There are many other certifications used for mattresses. Be sure to research any with which you might be unfamiliar.
Check Certifications and Find the Right Mattress
With an eye out for the right certifications and knowing what they mean, you can find a mattress that’s environmentally or socially friendly. Start by checking the list of materials used to make the mattress. Some materials like foam can be hard to find in any green form because most foams are made using petrochemicals. The steel found in innerspring mattresses goes through industrial processes that also involve chemicals. And, hybrids use elements of both foam and innerspring mattresses. With these types of mattresses, look for elements and components that are eco-friendly rather than an entire mattress.
However, latex mattresses overall have less exposure to chemicals and harmful manufacturing processes. You want to look for a high percentage of natural latex versus synthetic latex. Natural latex comes from a rubber tree, which makes it sustainable and biodegradable. Be aware that many mattresses use both kinds of latex, so look for the highest percentage of natural latex as possible.
With an eye out for the right certifications, you can find a mattress that won’t clog landfills and reduces the impact on future generations.
Most people think they’re pretty good about recycling. Plenty of people are, but the definition of proper recycling practices has become incredibly limited. It’s all wonderful that you toss your cans, bottles, and paper into the recycling bin, but what about the more substantial stuff that piles up unnoticed?
Home and building renovation/construction is responsible for a great deal of landfill bloat. In fact, one-third of the solid waste in the United State is building debris. You know those massive dumpsters filled to the brim outside of a place being built, remodeled, or worked on? Tons–literally and figuratively–of that waste can be recycled.
When people are renewing the interiors and exteriors of their homes, knowing what can be recycled is essential to responsible debris disposal. Unfortunately, this isn’t the type of recycling that comes to mind immediately upon hearing the word, but more can be recycled than you think. Some states require certain percentages of building debris to be recycled, but sustainable building, disposal, and recycling practices should stretch beyond legal requirement.
Doing the research before a renovation project will open your eyes to the recycling possibilities. Not only is it environmentally responsible, but can also gain you a sizeable tax write-off. As a country, we produce millions of tons of trash annually. Building materials, old appliances, furniture, whatever you’re thinking of getting rid of, fight the temptation to create more garbage. Remember the material “waste” from your project can help other ones be built! Let’s knock trash mountain down a few sizes and start taking recycling beyond paper, plastic, and glass.
View the infographic below for more information.