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Rate of recovery: Attendees gather in the Chicago area for conferences that address paper and plastic recycling.

by recycling today staff

Recycling Today Media Group sponsored its seventh annual Paper Recycling Conference & Trade Show in late June at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in suburban Chicago. In addition to a number of educational sessions on topics ranging from paper specifications to transportation to increasing recovery, conference attendees had the opportunity to attend networking receptions in the exhibit hall and pre-conference workshops.

This year also marked the first year for Recycling Today's Plastics Recycling Conference & Trade Show, which was co-located at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare. Sessions focused on increasing recovery rates, advances in sorting technology and consuming markets.

The events saw a combined total registration of more than 600 participants, with some attendees opting or a registration package that allowed them to attend educational sessions at both shows for a discounted rate.

At a paper conference session titled "Grade Definitions: Where to Next," which was sponsored by the Paper Stock Industries (PSI) chapter of the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI), Roy Geigel of Wisconsin-based Fox River Fiber Co., provided information on a new shredded grade that was added to ISRI's most recent specifications circular.

MAKING THE GRADE. PSI has included a new grade known as No. 36 File Stock in its newest specifications circular.

Grade No. 36 is expected to often be a shredded grade produced by the document destruction process. It may include up to 4 percent prohibited materials and up to 10 percent of materials considered outthrows.

Prohibited materials can include metal paper clips and staples as well as plastics found in report covers and in other filing applications.

Outthrows can include carbon paper, photographs and pressure-sensitive labels such as mailing labels. According to Geigel, the pressure-sensitive labels are the outthrow most commonly found in this grade.

Ralph Simon of SP Recycling Corp., Atlanta, who has been involved in grade specifications oversight for many years, reviewed recent and proposed PSI changes for attendees.

According to Simon, a new grade to be known as Residential Mixed Paper (RMP) is working its way through the review process. The RMP grade as currently proposed would have a 2-percent prohibitives limit and a 10-percent outthrows limit.

As its name implies, the RMP grade would be generated primarily by municipal recycling programs that serve single-family homes and apartment buildings. It would often result from single-stream collection followed by mechanical sorting. "It is a grade that is, in fact, already being traded around the world," said Simon.

At the same PSI-sponsored session, Maite Quinn of Sprint Recycling in New York noted that residents in that city have become confused by the city's temporary suspension of its container recycling program. "[Some] people thought recycling was over," she said.

Despite the best efforts of recyclers like Sprint, recyclable paper is still escaping recovery and winding up in landfills.

STAKING NEW CLAIMS. According to figures presented by Jerry Hawk, chairman of the Southeast Recycling Development Council (SERDC), a sizable amount of recyclable paper is winding up in Georgia landfills. According to the Georgia Waste Characterization study, released in 2005, the state's municipal solid waste (MSW) was comprised of 11 percent old corrugated containers (OCC), 4.8 percent old newspapers (ONP) and 3.4 percent office paper.

According to Hawk, this material that is being lost to landfills has numerous consuming markets within Georgia. The state has 15 paper mills, nine of which rely exclusively on recycled fiber.

The SERDC in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which helped organize the study, and other groups like the Georgia Recycling Coalition are using the information from the study to educate the public and private sector on the opportunities represented by the recyclable material currently winding up in the state's landfills, according to Hawk.

One educational effort is a series of plant tours, organized by the waste study's sponsors, which give local and state public and private sector officials the chance to tour working paper mills and learn about the study. The most recent tour was conducted at Pratt Industries' facility in Conyers, Ga., June 12 and was attended by 126 people, said Hawk.

Mickey Mills of Bluegrass Regional Recycling Corp. (BRRC), Lexington, Ky., told attendees about BRRC's single-stream-plus-glass program, which accepts co-mingled paper, plastic and metal from homes and collects glass separately at a drop-off center. The system helps boost collection rates for paper and the general volume of material because it is simple and convenient for residents, according to Mills.

Patrick Fitzgerald from RecycleBank offered another solution to encouraging recycling--offering financial incentives to participation. RecycleBank partners with national chains and local businesses in its home city of Philadelphia that will redeem "RecycleBank dollars" earned by recycling.

In an adjacent meeting room, attendees of Recycling Today's Plastics Recycling Conference & Trade Show assembled to hear presentations on a variety of issues affecting the recovery and recycling of plastics.

SENT PACKING. Capturing more bottles at large concerts and sporting events could be a key strategy in increasing recycling rates for PET and HDPE, according to Leslie Lukacs of SCS Engineers.

Lukacs addressed attendees of the inaugural Recycling Taday's Plastics Recycling Conference & Trade Show as part of a panel discussing methods for collecting more plastic for recycling. She discussed the efforts of the Venues and Special Events Recycling Council (VSERC), which sponsored a venues recycling bill that was signed into law in California by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September 2004. The law requires large venues and event facilities to submit plans for solid waste reduction and to report on the progress of their recycling programs to their local governments.

Lukacs pointed out several challenges to recycling at large events, including the large amounts of single-use items and the high percentage of food discards and resulting contamination. However, controlling what is sold at these venues and events is a key step in controlling what kind of material is collected for recycling, she said.

In addition, Tamsin Ettefagh of Envision Plastics addressed attendees on the Association of Postconsumer Plastics' (APR) efforts to increase recycling rates.

Ettefagh identified rural areas, multi-family homes and office/retail commercial buildings as under-collected areas.

She also outlined several potential projects the APR is considering for 2006, including a "piggy back" collection with paper, a convenience store and out-of-home collection program and stadium/venue collection.

In addition to increasing the recovery of post-consumer plastics, sorting the material also can prevent challenges for recyclers.

SORTING STATIONS. Automation and technology are gaining ground in the difficult race to make the recycling of collected mixed plastics possible, according to a trio of panelists.

In a session titled, "On the Job: Sorting Trends, Challenges and Applications," moderator Lisa White of SP Recycling Corp., Atlanta, offered a presentation on the challenges faced by processors of plastic containers collected through municipal recycling programs.

Single-stream collection "decreases the cost of collection, plain and simple," White acknowledged. The challenge, though, is to then separate materials to produce quality shipments of both paper and plastic.

White described some of the newest sorting equipment as "automated human eyes with arms," and noted that SP Recycling has been using optical equipment made by MSS (a subsidiary of CP Manufacturing, National City, Calif.) to increase its sorting accuracy while reducing the use of manual labor.

Another recycler of municipal materials that has made a similar commitment is TFC Recycling, Chesapeake, Va. The company's Chris Pulley remarked, "TFC has made a total commitment to optical sorting."

TFC is in the process of converting each of its four main materials recovery facilities (MRFs) into single-stream facilities using optical sorting. Pulley used a series of slides to "walk" attendees through TFC facilities in Chester and Chesapeake, Va. Both facilities use mechanical screens and optical sorting before leading to high-volume baling machines such as two-ram machines made by IPS Balers Inc., Baxley, Ga., or Bollegraaf extrusion balers installed by Van Dyk Baler Corp., Stamford, Conn.

Darren Arola of MBA Polymers, Richmond, Calif., offered attendees a look at how technology is addressing a different mixed plastics stream: the shredded plastics produced by the destruction of electronic devices and white goods.

MBA has set up plants in China and Austria (as well as a pilot plant in California) that use a series of mechanical and chemical sorting steps to produce plastics flakes, pellets and extruded products that can be used as secondary resins by manufacturers of finished goods.

A challenge for all plastics recyclers, Arola noted, is meeting the narrow specifications required for plastic manufacturing applications. The marketing of secondary resins "can be almost as difficult as the sorting," he said.

The Recycling Today Media Group will hold its 2007 paper and plastics recycling conferences in Orlando at the Peabody Hotel June 10-12, 2007.
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Title Annotation:CONFERENCE WRAP-UP; Paper Recycling Conference & Trade Show
Comment:Rate of recovery: Attendees gather in the Chicago area for conferences that address paper and plastic recycling.(CONFERENCE WRAP-UP)(Paper Recycling Conference & Trade Show)
Publication:Recycling Today
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2006
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