THE STREAM OF RECYCLED MATERIALS

THE STREAM OF RECYCLED MATERIALS IS THE LIFE BLOOD OF NEWLY DEVELOPING BUSINESSES

Maximo DeCastro Blake

Orange County, NY and the surrounding region is home to businesses that use and process recycled materials. The firms that collect and process these materials and those that fabricate consumer goods from the recycled materials employ our neighbors and could employ many more in a marketplace that supports their expansion and development. These businesses include:

  • Greenway Environmental Services – produces a wide variety of high performance and organic soils for agriculture made from organic waste collected from regional cafeterias and food producers.
  • Hudson Baylor – collects, processes, and resells recycled plastic containers, papers, cardboard, and other recyclable items.
  • County Metal Yard – buys, batches and resells any and all used metals from aluminum pie pans, iron scrap, steel pipe, copper wire to electric motors.
  • Marcal – collects, processes, and fabricates consumer items made from recycled paper.
  • Eco-Bags Products – manufactures tote bags from recycled cotton and hemp/cotton blends.

These recycling businesses respond to industry’s continual search for less expensive and more reliable sources of raw materials. Products made from recycled metals, cloth and paper require a fraction of the energy necessary to make the same items from virgin materials.

Civilizations have been harvesting the easily acquired raw materials for thousands of years. With much of the “low hanging fruit” already collected, we now often use breathtakingly expensive, environmentally damaging and socially disrupting measures to acquire the ores, crops and oils from which fabricated goods are made.

Alternatively, we can acquire much of the raw material we need by recycling. In addition to the cost saving benefits of using recycled materials and the benefits of avoiding the environmental and social costs of extracting raw materials, we also benefit from reusing our discards by not creating waste that is buried or burned, preventing air and water pollution from waste disposal, which has a negative effects on our health.

After years of burning or burying our garbage, and neglecting its reuse potential, we have started to understand the value of the materials in our trash and have been steadily recycling an ever larger proportion. We have come a long way. Currently, about 34% of America’s municipal solid waste is recycled. However, much higher rates are possible, with Nantucket Island achieving a 92% recycling rate.1 As an island community with no industry Nantucket is a special case. However, San Francisco has been able to recycle 70% of its garbage.2 To help cities attain these higher rates, organizations like the Institute For Local Self-Reliance in Washington, DC are assisting municipalities and local groups by providing expertise in developing recycling systems and explaining what is working in other cities. Two programs that reduce residential waste volumes and increase recycling are gaining popularity around the country:

  • Pay-As-You-Throw – A program where residents are charged for the collection of municipal solid waste – ordinary household trash – based on the amount they throw away (also known as unit pricing or variable-rate pricing). All of the municipalities in the states of Washington and Oregon have adopted this program.3
  • Recyclebank – This program rewards persons who have documented their recycling with Recyclebank Points. These points can be used for rewards at local and national retailers and online.4

These and similar programs spur on the expansion of existing recycling business and the creation of new ones as they increase both the volume and diversity of materials entering the recycling stream. Orange County could support its recycling businesses by adopting and adapting recycling programs and systems successfully implemented in other communities around the country.

The message is clear: Recovery of materials is the way to go.

______________________________

1Graziadei, Jason. “Nantucket tops nation for recycling.” Cape Cod Times. October 26, 2009. Available at: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091026/NEWS/910260309
2Waste and Recycling News. “Municipal Recycling Survey: San Francisco.” Accessed October 27, 2011. http://www.wasterecyclingnews.com/rankings/mrs2009.html.
3EPA. “Pay-as-you-throw.” US Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed October 27, 2011. http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/tools/payt/
4Recyclebank. Website accessed October 27, 2011. http://www.recyclebank.com/