Green Dealer Support


Plastic Waste
February 28, 2013, 7:21 pm
Filed under: Going Green, Green Facts | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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As a country we are generating a lot of plastic that is either disposed of in landfills or recycled. Some recent statistics (2010) indicate that about 12 percent  of landfill space is used by some form of plastic. That number is growing very fast. Fifty years ago it was only 1 percent.

plastic Waste

Here how plastics are made:

Plastics fall into two basic categories; thermosets and thermoplastic.

Thermosets sets when heated and is used for durable items such as construction and automobile parts.

Thermoplastic softens when exposed to heat. It is used for products such as milk jugs, floor covering and carpet fibers.

Here are some interesting plastic waste statistics (2010):

  • Over 30 million tons of plastic were generated representing over 12 percent of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)
  • Only 8 percent of the total plastic generated was recovered for recycling
  • About 7 million tons of plastic are non durable goods which includes plates and cups
  • About  11 million tons of plastic was durable which includes plastic in appliances, etc.

Plastic pollution is a problem because plastic takes so long to decompose. A website maintained by the Mid Michigan Waste Authority provides numerous links that explore all aspects of plastic pollution. Here is an excerpt from their website:

Quick Facts about Plastic Pollution

  • A plastic milk jug takes 1 million years to decompose.
  • A plastic cup can take 50 – 80 years to decompose.
  • Recycled plastic can be used to make things like trash cans, park benches, playground equipment, decks, and kayaks.
  • Special fleece-like fabrics used in clothes and blankets can be made out of recycled plastic bottles.
  • Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR.
  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures every year.
  • Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.
  • A United States law, implementing an international agreement called MARPOL Annex V, became effective on December 31, 1988. It prohibits the disposal of plastics into the marine environment and requires ports to provide reception facilities for ship-generated plastic waste.
  • Today, Americans generate 10.5 million tons of plastic waste a year but recycle only 1 or 2 % of it.
  • An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash, much of it plastic is dumped in the world’s oceans every year.
  • The worldwide fishing industry dumps an estimated 150,000 tons of plastic into the ocean each year, including packaging, plastic nets, lines, and buoys.
  • About 1,200 plastic soft drink and salad dressing containers could carpet the average living room.
  • It takes 1,050 HDPE (#2) milk jugs to make a six-foot plastic lumber park bench.
  • Every year we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
  • Nearly every piece of plastic EVER made still exists today.

You can go to their website for further plastic pollution information and action that you can take. Click here to go to their website:

Most plastics have a resin identification code as you would typically see on the bottom of plastic container. The resin number is usually inside a triangle which is frequently confused for the recycling symbol. It does not mean that the item can be collected for recycling. Here is a chart of the codes and what they mean:

Resin Identification Code

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Type of Resin Content

PET

HDPE

Vinyl

LDPE

PP

PS

OTHER

  • PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate
  • HDPE – High-density Polyethylene
  • LDPE – Low-density Polyethylene
  • PP – Polypropylene
  • PS – Polystyrene
  • Other – Mixed Plastics

resin-identification-symbols2120px-Recycling_symbol_svgNote the difference in these two recycle related logos. It is often confused that the resin identification guarantees that a plastic item is recycable but that is the farthest thing from the truth. The number is for sorting purposes.

There are about 2,000 companies in the US that handle or process post-consumer plastic. Recycling occurs either curbside or at drop-off points. Often this is included in full stream recycling and is mixed with other recyclable material such as paper. The recyclable material goes through a number of sorting and cleaning processes until it is finally ready for processing which includes grinding it into small flakes. After further processing it is formed into pellets and shipped to product manufacturing plants where they begin the cycle again as new plastic products.

Source reduction is about reducing the amount of waste that is generated. Here plastic plays an important role as plastic is generally more lightweight than its alternatives such as glass, paper, or metal. These lighter weight materials require less fuel to transport and result in less material in the waste stream.

Green Dealer Support works with dealers to identify items that are being added to the waste stream and may eventually end up in landfills.

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Can You Recycle It?
October 8, 2012, 9:12 am
Filed under: About the Company, Going Green | Tags: , , , , , ,

Most everyone I know talks about that they believe in recycling both at work and in their personal lives. It is a good thing to do and we see and hear lots of things about  the harm to the environment by not recycling everything we can. So why isn’t everyone doing it?

Personally, I tend to justify my less than 100% engagement of recycling by rationalizing that it does not always make sense. We believe it cost too much, it would create more pollution than it would avoid, etc., etc.  Where we live and where my office is located we do not have curbside pickup of recyclable  items. So how can we recycle and do what is right for the environment and future generations? What could I do so that I would not be saying it is right for everyone else but not for me?

I think you have to begin with the end in mind; that being a plan that you want to do everything you can to reduce the amount of things going to the landfill. With that being the ultimate goal then start considering what is going to the landfill today and determine is there any practical way to reduce that.

Every location has its own set of rules for what can be recycled and how it gets recycled. In order to be an effective recycler you will have to know what can be recycled from your location. When that is determined you are already part way there. Determine how to capture items that can be recycled and getting them into that system. But what about the items that are more difficult to recycle. Just because it is not easy does not mean it can’t be done. A great website to use in determining where and how to recycle a particular item is www.earth911.com

Next do not bite off too much at one time. Start with one item or at least one category and do the research as to how that item can be recycled or disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Once you figure one out and put processes in place to handle that one move on to the next. Often when you figure out what to do with one item several others can be addressed in a similar way. Just keep working  on this with the idea of “how can we reduce the amount going to the landfill”?

Different than recycling is reducing but it may be an even better way to reducing landfill. Our office had ended up with a large number of  magazines coming in each week. We had subscribed to lots of printed material much of which was a free subscription. This was creating clutter in the office and using up of storage space just in case there was any great article that we want to have on file. Then when we finally became overwhelmed we would throw it all away in big bunches. To improve on this we did an inventory of every magazine we were receiving and put them into three groups:

  • Really want a hard copy for the shelf
  • Wanted material but could receive it electronically
  • It would be worth stopping the subscription, at least for a test

We found that the “wanted a hard copy only needed to be about 25% of what we were receiving. This really works and it is more than just having less to go to the landfill, the clutter reduction is the best thing we ever did.

Whether for business or at home the process of ramping up your recycle activity should be very similar and that is to take it a few items at a time. However, having said that you still need to begin with the end in mind.

As the volume of material going to the landfill is reduced work with you trash hauler to reduce the cost. Can the pickup be once per week instead of twice? Can we use a 6 yard dumpster instead of an 8 yard. A great measure of that is to look at the dumpster just before it is picked up. Is it half full or even less?

If a dealership is looking for recycling solutions look at our website at http://www.greendealersupport.com/ or contact us by clicking here.




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