2016 Recycling Trends And Waste Regulation Changes That Businesses Need To Know

"Photo Courtesy of US Army Environmental Command."

“Photo Courtesy of US Army Environmental Command.”

2016 gave way to new recycling trends and waste regulation changes that impact the materials businesses may include in their packaging, products or waste streams. New environmental laws like recent Styrofoam bans and mandated organics recycling programs will have direct impact on waste and facility management in the retail, manufacturing and restaurant industries. See how these 2016 recycling laws and trends may impact your business.

  1. WASHINGTON, D.C. JOINS OTHER MAJOR CITIES IN BANNING STYROFOAM

Starting January 1st, 2016, Washington, D.C. became one of many cities to render the use of Styrofoam illegal. The ban includes fast food cartons, soup bowls, packing peanuts, plates, coffee cups, and trays that are made up of polystyrene, a plastic made from synthetic chemicals and non-renewable fossil fuels. Polystyrene is non-biodegradable and cannot be recycled—a dilemma that has motivated major cities like New York City, Los Angeles County, San Francisco, Portland, and Miami Beach, among others, to ban it.

Industries that rely heavily on the use of Styrofoam, including restaurants or manufacturers who use Styrofoam in shipping, will need to implement alternatives like compostable packaging.

  1. CALIFORNIA IMPLEMENTS NEW STANDARDS FOR COMMERCIAL ORGANIC WASTE MANAGEMENT

Another 2016 recycling law for the restaurant industry—California is mandating organic waste management and recycling for businesses. The law is composed of five parts: mandatory commercial organics recycling, tax exemptions for recycling and composting equipment, detailing organics infrastructure, recycling and composting reporting requirements and composting promotion, according to a press release from CalRecycle. CA’s Alameda County has begun fining businesses and multifamily property owners that act in violation of the mandatory recycling ordinance. The county’s waste management authority claimed in November that it has issued over 100 citations for violations of this ordinance already, and expects more as it continues routine inspections.

By April 1, 2016, businesses that generate eight cubic yards of organic waste per week must arrange for organic waste recycling services. This same standard will apply to businesses that generate four cubic yards of organic waste on January 1, 2017. By 2020, that standard may expand to include businesses that produce two cubic yards. The goal of this new mandate is to reduce the statewide disposal of organic waste 50% by the year 2020.

  1. PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS BAN ON MICROBEADS

The recent illegalization of microplastic and microbeads in the United States generated major headlines. Microplastic pollution is associated with health impacts for marine life and also seafood consumers. President Obama signed the federal ban at the end of 2015 to render the tiny microbeads found in personal care products such as face washes, hand soaps and toothpaste illegal. Manufacturers must stop producing microbeads by July 1, 2017. Retailers may not sell products with microbeads in them any later than July 1, 2018.

  1. CA LAUNCHES NEW MATTRESS RECYCLING PROGRAM

In January 2016, California implemented a mattress recycling program to help eliminate the high volume of abandoned mattresses that plague the state, particularly in the Bay Area. Oakland alone had around 6,000 mattresses left out in the last year, with San Francisco experiencing somewhere between 4,000 and 8,000. Oakland taxpayers spent $5.5 million cleaning up the large junk from their streets.

Due to the large and bulky nature of mattresses, the objects can remain on streets for years before they are collected —and during that time, they attract public health menaces like mold, rats and insects. The problem is especially rampant in areas with existing economic problems. Waste haulers cannot break the mattresses down with machines or bulldozers, and instead must separate them by hand. California joins Connecticut and Rhode Island in their efforts to encourage mattress recycling.

To combat the issue and offset recycling costs, California mattress retailers have implemented an $11 fee that customers pay when they purchase a new mattress or box spring. The fee funds a program called “Bye Bye Mattress,” which requires retailers to dispose of old mattresses when delivering new ones. In addition, recycling centers in the area have begun accepting mattresses.  Since the program began in January, reports show a spike in mattress collection at recycling centers.

  1. NEW YORK STATE RELEASES INITIAL E-WASTE RECYCLING REPORT IN 2016

In February 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) released its first ever E-Waste Recycling Report to detail progress from the Electronic Equipment Recycling and Refuse Act. The new report evaluates data from 2011-2014, and includes over 318 million pounds of collected e-waste. The total amount of CEE (covered electronic equipment) collected by manufacturers for reuse or recycling in 2011 was 44.8 million pounds, which grew to 77.5 million pounds in 2012. This increase in e-waste collection is more than any previously recorded year.

The NYSDEC revealed that it is currently focusing on educating manufacturers with the hope that this year will see the full enforcement and compliance with the Act. To aid consumers in recycling e-waste, electronic equipment manufacturers are required to provide free and convenient recycling programs for all consumers. The movement has even taken national effect for electronics retailers – Best Buy recently announced updates to its own e-waste recycling program: free disposal and some discounts for most e-waste that customers bring in and a $25 fee for televisions and monitors.

STAY INFORMED AND COMPLIANT

At National Waste Associates, we want to aid you in your endeavors to comply with waste laws and reach your sustainability goals. We stay on top of new recycling laws and work pro-actively to keep your business environmentally compliant in each state you operate in. Learn more about our approach to waste management and how we can help manage your company’s waste and recycling programs more efficiently.