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By Celeste LeCompte
Photos by Nilina Mason-Campbell
32 Sustainable Industries
APRIL 2009
The current
economic
climate is taking a lito out
ol tho iocycling industiy. Donand loi iocyclallos
has dioµµod glolally. Scalod lack constiuction
and nanulactuiing havo guttod tho naikots loi
stool and coµµoi. Slowod consunoi sµonding has
danµonod consunoi goods nanulactuiing and
distiilution, slinning donand loi µlastics and
µaµoi. Evon tioullos in tho nodia lusinoss havo
logun to tako thoii toll on tho iocycling industiy.
Nowsµaµoi, tiaditionally a ioliallo connodity
natoiial, has laltoiodas ad salos dioµ and nows
novos onlino, nowsµaµois aio µiinting lowoi
coµios ol snalloi µaµois with lowoi µagos.
Bocauso donand has lallon oll acioss tho
loaid, µiicos havo takon a nosodivo as woll.
Piicos loi nany connoditios loll lotwoon ¡o
µoicont and ¡oo µoicont lotwoon July zoo8 and
Doconloi zoo8, oiasing any gains thoy nado in
tho hist hall ol tho yoaiand thon sono. Plastics
in µaiticulai loll stooµly, and in sono casos
iocyclois had to novo natoiial at a signihcant
loss. Evon tho lig µlayois havo loon hit haid:
Wasto Managonont (NYSE: WMIj ioµoitod that
its louith-ouaitoi zoo8 iocycling iovonuo loll ¡;
µoicont lion tho µiovious yoai, and ±± µoicont
lion tho µiovious ouaitoi.
In tho industiy, this has lolt nany lolks in tho
iocycling valuo chainlo thoy cuilsido colloction
conµanios, natoiial soitois oi nanulactuiois
casting alout loi now ways ol doing lusinoss,
lion high-tochnology solutions to old-lashionod
µaitnoishiµs.
Supply continues, despite demand
Rogaidloss ol tho cuiiont ocononic situation,
cuilsido colloction hasn`t slowod. In nany U.S.
iuiisdictions, haulois aio ioouiiod ly local and
stato µolicios to µick uµ iocycloallos at tho cuil,
and such µolicios aio on tho iiso nationwido.
Whilo tho list ol natoiials thoy`io ioouiiod to
colloct vaiios, nandatoiy iocycling ºtonds to go
on iogaidloss ol what naikot µiicos aio," says
Botty Patton, iosouico diioctoi ol tho Association
ol Oiogon Rocyclois (AORj, an industiy giouµ
loundod in ¡o;;. Whon naikot µiicos lall, ovon
il thoy lall lolow tho cost ol collocting natoiial,
haulois continuo to colloct and soll natoiials.
Gailago and iocycling iatos µaid ly consunois
and lusinossos aio tyµically sot ly tho local
govoinnont aio io-ovaluatod onco ovoiy hvo
yoais (as in Oiogonj oi sono othoi sot µoiiod ol
tino. As such, tho syston isn`t sot uµ to ioact to
swings in connodity µiicos. Foi tho nost µait,
that woiks out aliight. But tho cuiiont naikot
collaµso is causing a soiious µain µoint loi nany
haulois, which can`t iust stoµ collocting wasto
whon µiicos dioµ. Local govoinnonts aion`t
likoly to cuitail iocycling µiogians, accoiding to
nost ol tho industiy oxµoits intoiviowod loi this
stoiy, and ovon il thoy woio to login io-ovaluating
gailago iatos noio olton, nany ol tho haulois
havo takon such a sulstantial hit alioady that now
iatos wouldn`t holµ thon iocouµ tho lossos thoy`vo
incuiiod uµ to this µoint.
ºThis µiico dioµ has loon so iadical, and
haµµonod so ouickly, that gailago conµanios
aio going to havo to alsoil this cost," says John
Matthows, sustainalility cooidinatoi loi Salon,
Oio.lasod iocycloi Gaiton Soivicos and a
loundoi ol AOR. Tho gailago lusinoss is an old
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builcin¬ local sèlí-rèliancè anc a prospèrous Main Strèèt. Locally ownèc businèssès anc íarms arè coopèratin¬ to builc
local livin¬ èconomiès, acopt sustainablè practicès, crèatè ¬rèèn |obs, anc ¬ènèratè nèw sustainablè èconomic activity.
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Sustainable Industries 35
APRIL 2009
industiy, howovoi, so nany iocyclois aio µioµaiod
to woathoi stoins such as this, at loast loi a µoiiod
ol tino. And, as Matthows µoints out, ovontually
tho slow-down in µioduction will iosult in loss
wasto to lo nanagod ly iocyclois and haulois.
But othois µoint out that a locus on connodity
µiicos is only hall tho stoiy whon it conos to tho
valuo ol iocyclallos.
Trash to cash
RocycloBank, a staituµ iocycling conµany
lasod in Philadolµhia, woiks with nuniciµal
govoinnonts to inµiovo cuilsido iocycling
soivicos. But unliko tiaditional haulois, tho
conµany has a high-toch aµµioach to its
µiacticoslion suµµlying RFID-oouiµµod tiash
cans to tho city`s hauloi to naintaining a slick
custonoi Wol sito to nonitoiing and iodosigning
tho hauloi`s colloction ioutos loi naxinun
olhcioncy. That`s holµod attiact a sulstantial
anount ol nodia attontionand noio than S±¡
nillion in two iounds ol vontuio lundingloi
its incontivo-lasod aµµioach |soo ºRocycloBank
cashos in on vontuio lunding," 4VTUBJOBCMF
*OEVTUSJFT Foliuaiy zooo|.
RocycloBank custonois loavo thoii iocyclallos
in a sµocial, niciochiµµod gailago can at
tho cuil. Colloction tiucks scan tho can, and
custonois got RocycloBank µoints, which can
lo iodoonod onlino loi goods and soivicos lion
vondois ianging lion Kialt Foods (NYSE: KFTj
to local shoµs. Tho conµany also holµs tho hauloi
cut oµoiating oxµonsos ly iodosigning colloction
ioutos to nako noio olhciont uso ol tiucks, cut
luol costs and savo tino.
CloanScaµos, a Soattlo-lasod wasto
nanagonont conµany, ollois a sinilai iouto-
inµiovonont soivico loi its nuniciµal custonois
as woll, along with custonoi oducation and
outioach dosignod to loost iocycling and
ioduco wasto |soo ºHaulois tako cloanoi iouto,"
4VTUBJOBCMF*OEVTUSJFT Soµtonloi, zoo8|. But
RocycloBank`s lusinoss nodol is uniouo in othoi
ways, as woll. Instoad ol locusing sololy on tho
costs ol collocting and tho iovonuo lion natoiial
salos, RocycloBank holµs nuniciµalitios cut tho
cost ol wasto disµosal.
Bocauso landhlls chaigo ºtiµµing loos," that`s
a sulstantial oxµonso loi nany nuniciµalitios.
Ron Gonon, co-loundoi and CEO ol RocycloBank,
µoints to Wilnington, Dol., which in zooo sµont
Sz.¡ nillion sonding its wasto to tho landhll. By
µaitnoiing with RocycloBank, tho city was allo to
loost iocycling iatos sulstantially, ioducing tho
cost ol sonding tiash to tho landhll ly noaily ±o
µoicont. Tho µaitnois sµlit tho savings, a win-win
situation loi loth. ºIt always holµs out lusinoss
whon connodity µiicos aio high," says Gonon.
ºBut wo`io ioally locusod on |answoiing tho
ouostion|, What`s tho valuo ol gotting iocyclallos
out ol tho landhll?"
Tho RocycloBank aµµioach is sinilai to
that ol onoigy soivicos conµanios that µiovido
donand iosµonso soivicos. Liko conµanios such
as EnoiNOC and Echolon, RocycloBank µiovidos
an ºavoidod cost" soivico with lonohts to loth
a utility and an ond usoi |soo ºA cloan shavo,"
4VTUBJOBCMF*OEVTUSJFs, Soµtonloi zoo;|. But
instoad ol ºsnait onoigy," RocycloBank ollois
ºsnait gailago." Tho conµany ostallishos tho
lasolino cost ol wasto disµosal with its nuniciµal
µaitnoi and calculatos avoidod costs lion that
hguio loi tho lilo ol a contiacttyµically hvo yoais
to zo yoais.
That noans that whon naikot µiicos aio
low, othoi haulois nay loso an incontivo to
continuo loosting iocycling iatosand sono
nuniciµalitios nay lo loicod to cuitail what
natoiials aio colloctod loi iocycling. Whilo sono
haulois nay havo a noio-than-hscal connitnont
to iocycling, conµanios such as RocycloBank and
Soattlo`s CloanScaµos tio thoii µiohtalility to tho
sustainallo outconos thoy aio tiying to ioach. Foi
RocycloBank, inµiovononts in ovoiall iocycling
iatos, as woll as wasto ioduction and ioducod
oµoiating costs, continuo to yiold cost savings
at tho landhll. Tho conµany iocontly tuinod its
attontion to o-wasto and Gonon says oiganic wasto
colloction is tho conµany`s noxt taigot. Gonon
says tho conµany nay also twoak its nonitoiing
syston to noio accuiatoly iowaid custonois
loi iocycling halits. Ono stiatogy (alioady loing
usod ly sono Euioµoan conµaniosj would lo to
tag loth tho tiash and iocycling cans and awaid
µoints lasod on tho µoicontago ol wasto iocyclod,
iathoi than total woight ol wasto iocyclod.
/NCEHEADEDFOR'OODWILLTHESEUNWANTEDPOTSWILLEVENTUALLYGETSHIPPEDTO!SIA
h4HEMARKETSAREANIGHTMAREvSAYS"ETTY0ATTONPICTUREDHEREPERFORMINGAWASTEAUDIT
36 Sustainable Industries
APRIL 2009
Cultivating relationships
But haulois aion`t tho ond ol tho stoiynot ly a long
shot. Haulois dolivoi thoii goods to natoiial iocovoiy
lacilitios (MRFsj, which soµaiato and giado tho nixod lag
ol natoiials dolivoiod ly haulois and naikot it to µiocossois
and nanulactuiois. Whon nanulactuiing donand is down,
MRFs aio tho onos lolt holding tho lag.
Whilo thoio has loon littlo ioliol loi MRFs in iocont
nonthsconnodity µiicos havo stayod low with no iolound
in sightnany havo adoµtod shoit-toin stiatogios to nako
tho nost ol thoii situation, and aio tuining thoii sights to
long-toin naikot dovoloµnont. Local naikots havo loon a
koy lactoi in suµµoiting tho Wost Coast iocycling naikot.
Paµoi and stool nills havo continuod to luy natoiials, and
in tho Noithwost, local MRFs havo loon allo to continuo
naikoting natoiials thiough long-ostallishod connoctions
|soo ºRocyclois salvago local naikots," 4VTUBJOBCMF*OEVTUSJFT,
Foliuaiy zooo|.
Matthows says that long-toin iolationshiµs also givo
luyois and sollois noio oµtions loi navigating tho cuiiont
oconony. Sono MRFs aio ioµoitodly woiking with luyois to
oxtond contiacts and loiiow against lutuio incioasos in µiico,
oi to ollsot low µiicos loi ono natoiial with highoi µiicos loi
anothoi. That`s good loi MRFs with oxisting iolationshiµs,
lut its not a long-toin solution to cioating viallo iocycling
lusinossos. To that ond, a vaiioty ol naikot dovoloµnont
initiativos kickod oll ly Wost Coast statos havo attiactod
now intoiost. Oiogon`s Rocycling Maikots Dovoloµnont
Connittoo has ioµoitodly locono noio activo in iocont
Quality counts
<#300,403&> Acioss tho nation, as iocycling has natuiod, nany nuniciµalitios
havo switchod lion soitod natoiial collloction to ºconninglod" cuilsido colloction.
Instoad ol asking iosidonts to soit thoii µaµoi, glass, µlastic and notal, it all goos into a
singlo can. It`s had a naikod inµact on µaiticiµation in iocycling µiogians, and nost in
tho industiy say all cuilsido colloction will lo conninglod, ovontually.
That nay lo good loi µaiticiµation, lut its inµact on tho iost ol tho iocycling valuo
chain is sonowhat nixod. Matoiial iocovoiy lacilitios (MRFsj accoµt conninglod
wasto, and using a vaiioty ol nochanical toolslans, scioons and sonsois anong
thonand hunan laloi, soit tho natoiial into soµaiato connoditios, and within thoso
connoditios, soµaiato giados. Tho µiollon is, tho syston isn`t µoiloct and as µiicos
dioµ MRFs tiy to µiocoss noio natoiials lastoi. John Matthows, sustainalility diioctoi
loi Salon, Oio.lasod Gaiton Soivicos, says it`s cuiiontly ostinatod that ¡o µoicont ol
µlastic iocyclod cuilsido onds uµ in tho tiash at µaµoi nills.
Lowoi ouality iocyclallossay, a shiµnont ol µaµoi contaninatod with µlastics
nay lo haidoi to naikot oi lotch lowoi µiicos. Botty Patton, iosouico diioctoi ol tho
Association ol Oiogon Rocyclois, says Noithwost iocyclois tiaditionally havo highoi
ouality wasto-stioans than othoi iocyclois, locauso tho statos` µiogians aio woll-
ostallishod, and iosidonts tyµically do a lottoi iol ol soµaiating iocyclod goods lion
tiash.
Sono MRFs havo takon on ouality inµiovonont as a way to souoozo noio nonoy
out ol thoii oµoiation. Agii-Plas, an agiicultuial µlastics iocycloi in Biooks, Oio., has
woikod to olininato sono ol tho ºiunk"natoiial that is too snall, diity, oi haid to
soµaiatolion its iocycling stioan. Instoad ol tiashing it howovoi, AgiiPlas is cuiiontly
µaitnoiing with PlaszFuol to tost a µiocoss that would convoit wasto µlastic to luol.
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Sustainable Industries 37
APRIL 2009
nonths, though 4VTUBJOBCMF*OEVTUSJFT was unallo
to sµoak with anyono involvod loi this aiticlo.
In Caliloinia, tho Bovoiago Containoi Rocycling
Maikot Dovoloµnont and Exµansion Giant
Piogian ollois lunding to tho tuno ol Szo nillion
annually loi iosoaich and dovoloµnont on µlastics
iocyclingincluding now µioduct dovoloµnont.
Win-win market development
Toiiy Gillis, gonoial nanagoi ol Rocovoiy ¡
Inc. in Tacona, Wash., says naikot dovoloµnont
isn`t sonothing that can lo lolt uµ to tho
nuniciµal oi stato govoinnonts, howovoi. It`s
koy to his own conµany`s suivival, and ho takos
iosµonsilility loi dovoloµing naikots loi sono ol
his own natoiial, as woll. ºI`vo lound that in oidoi
to µull this oll, I`n going to havo to havo µaitnois
who havo tho alility to consuno tho natoiial wo
gonoiato," ho says. ºWhat I`n woiking on iight
now is dovoloµing iolationshiµs with ond usois
who would ioµlaco thoii cuiiont loodstock."
Foi nany in tho lusinoss, that`s a koy long-
toin goaloxµanding tho uso ol iocyclod
µioducts whoiovoi µossillo. RocycloBank`s Ron
Gonon suggostod that oco-µaik dovoloµnonts,
which liing iocyclois and nanulactuiois into
a shaiod industiial µaik, could lo a usolul
tool loi cioating stallo naikots. Rocycling has
tiaditionally loon ono ol tho µiinaiy ways that
conµanios havo loon allo to ºdo woll ly doing
good," ly ioducing wasto and incoiµoiating it
lack into nanulactuiing µiocoss. In tho naikot
downtuin, doµiossod µiicos loi iocyclod natoiial
could add an oxtia incontivo loi nanulactuiois to
switch uµ tho natoiials thoy`io using.
Toiiy Gillis says good naikot dovoloµnont
suµµoits tho ontiio valuo chain. ºAt tho ond ol tho
day, what you ioally want to ond uµ with is tho
wasto gonoiatoi saving nonoy ovoi disµosal, tho
ond usoi saving nonoy |on iocyclod natoiials|,
and tho µiocossoi naking nonoy and µioviding
ioal iols," ho says.
Matthows µoints to Oiogon`s iocontly
inµlonontod o-wasto µiogian, which ioouiios
oloctionics nanulactuiois to tako lack µioducts
at thoii ond ol lilo, as an attonµt to oncouiago
iust such naikot dovoloµnont. Il nanulactuiois
aio iosµonsillo loi tako-lack µiogians, oithoi
on thoii own oi thiough a µaitnoi, ho notos,
it loconos in thoii own soll-intoiost to dosign
µioducts loi sinµlo, cost-olloctivo disassonlly,
iouso and iocycling. That could cioato lottoi, saloi
iols loi disassonlly, ioduco nanulactuiing costs
and ioduco disµosal costs loi consunois.
Foi oxanµlo, tho Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KOj in
Januaiy zooo oµonod a lottlo-to-lottlo iocycling
µlant in Sµaitanluig, S.C. A Soo nillion ioint
vontuio lotwoon Coko and Sµaitanluig-lasod
Unitod Rosouico Rocovoiy Coiµ., tho µlant
µiocossos PET (µolyothylono toioµhthalatoj wasto
into µlastic µollots loi ionanulactuiing into
lottlos. It`s not ouito tho sano as iousing tho old
glass lottlos, lut tho µiocoss cioatos a closod looµ
that lonohts Cokoand tho iocycling lusinoss.
Coko now has a vostod intoiost in oncouiaging
µlastics iocycling in that iogion and othois il tho
aµµioach is a hnancial succoss. Scott Vittois,
Coko`s diioctoi ol sustainallo µackaging, told
GioonBiz.con oailioi this yoai that hnding
sulhciont loodstock has tiaditionally loon a laiiioi
to this kind ol µioioct. To that ond, tho conµany
has invostod noio than Sz nillion in RocycloBank
and is an ongoing naikoting µaitnoi, to holµ giow
tho ovoiall sizo ol tho PET naikot and guaiantoo
that its µlant and othois liko itwill continuo to
havo natoiial with which to woik.
In tho shoit toin, nuniciµalitios, haulois
and nanulactuiois will likoly havo to hnd
ways to conlat ludgot shoitlalls as a iosult
ol µlunnoting connodity µiicos and an
alundanco ol natoiial. In tho long iun, howovoi,
cuiiont naikot conditions could sµui cioativo
now µioduct dovoloµnont, oi oncouiago sono
nanulactuiois to tako a chanco on now natoiials.
Tho iocycling lusinoss nay cono to soo today`s
tight oconony as tho loginning ol a now oia ol
innovation in tho lusinoss. L
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