2018 was a year of big changes in recycling, and in 2019 we’re seeing the beginnings of a new era taking shape. The Earth911 team sits down for a conversation about how local recycling programs are changing in the wake of China’s ban on contaminated imports and shifts in overseas destinations for U.S. scrap metal and recyclables. While glass recycling faces cutbacks across the country, U.S. scrap metal exports actually increased in 2018. Join Evelyn Fielding-Lopez, Sarah Lozanova, and Mitch Ratcliffe for a conversation about the future and safety of recycling.
People can make a big contribution to the success of recycling by putting the right materials in their blue bins. One critical issue is worker safety, which can be compromised by wishcycling — the idea anything can be dropped into the blue bin. We talk about the recent Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries‘ conference, where safety and packaging design were in the spotlight. Recycling workers can be injured by medical sharps, broken glass, electrical cords, and even plastic films, which do not belong in the blue bin. At the IRSI event, we heard stories about young workers who, after being stuck by sharps in recycling material, had to give up their plans for family because of infections that resulted.
Sarah Lozanova shares Earth911’s recent sustainable smartphones story, and we talk about the growing role of subscription services for advanced technology, which ensures products will be recycled at the end of their useful lives. And, as always, our Earthling Questions are on tap: How to recycle an air mattress? Can a rubber-backed doormat be recycled? Is paper made from junk mail and turned into art still recyclable?
Do you have questions or ideas about the changing recycling industry?