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Successful recycling requires local industry's commitment.

When it comes to recycling, a lot of attention is focused on the collection of materials but this is only the beginning of the recycling process which is not complete until the materials collected are turned into new products and purchased. Increasing demand for the supply of recyclables is essential for recycling efforts to be successful. This is referred to as "closing the loop" and is depicted in the national recycling logo with its three chasing arrows.

Each arrow in the logo represents an element of the recycling process. Collecting materials that otherwise would be thrown away is the first element. In 1991, the amount of garbage generated in the United States exceeded 280 million tons. The majority of waste generated is landfilled, while at the same time the number of landfills is decreasing, tipping fees are increasing and the ability to site a new landfill is hampered by environmental concerns and permitting constraints. This first element of the recycling process is of great importance in managing solid waste. Manufacturing new products from collected materials and then purchasing those new products are the second and third elements, and all three are equally significant. Arkansas have recognized the importance of the latter two elements as well as the first. As a result, a program called the Arkansas Buy Recycled Business Alliance has been created.

Through this alliance, Arkansas businesses, recyclers and government agencies are combining efforts to lead the way in creating a demand for recycled content products in our state. By making a commitment to increase recycled product purchases, alliance members can increase demand in the recycled product marketplace.

Alliance Formed by ARC

The Arkansas Buy Recycled Business Alliance was formed by the Arkansas Recycling Coalition -- a non-profit organization representing government and private sector interests committed to the common goal of maximizing recycling as an integral part of waste and resource management.

In April, the creation of the alliance was announced by Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and Coalition President, Maureen Rose. More than 50 businesses signed up as members of the alliance and committed to increase their purchases of recycled products.

By re-examining buying habits and setting goals for the future, members of the alliance strengthen the state's market for recycled products, reduce wastes and build an economic base for manufacturing products from recovered materials. With assistance from the alliance, members seek out recycled products and buy those products which meet price and quality standards.

Members of the Arkansas Alliance automatically become participants in the National Recycling Coalition's Buy Recycled Business Alliance. As a member of the alliance, businesses receive access to a variety of free publications, fact sheets and policy positions, as well as discounts on national recycling publications. In addition, members receive technical assistance and access to an extensive information network on recycled products. The NRC Alliance, organized in 1991, reported $10.7 billion in purchases of recycled products in 1993 by some 500 members.

Businesses Get Involved

According to NRC's 1993 Interim Report, members of the alliance have made great strides in recycling efforts and a great impact in the market for recycled products.

For example, for the past five years the Coca-Cola Co. has been reviewing its major purchases to determine which ones can include recycled content. Starting with white legal pads, memo pads and business cards, the company has made an effort to buy recycled without compromising quality or price. The company currently uses 50 tons per year of stationery made of 15 percent post-consumer/45 per cent pre-consumer stock.

In addition, all computer paper was recently converted to 50 percent recycled/10 percent post consumer stock, and all note pads, file folders and paper for internal bulletins contain recycled material. Coca-Cola's 1992 annual report was printed on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper, including materials collected from the company's office paper recycling program.

The company even found a way to buy back its own packaging; when 1,500 plastic binders were needed for employee training manuals, they were made with 100 percent recycled polyethylene terephthalate from soda bottles. The company has not had to pay more for all these recycled products; by negotiating multi-year contracts and consolidating volume, the company has saved from three to 12 percent on recycled product purchases, depending on the item.

Another member of the alliance setting the stage toward the buy recycled effort is Rubbermaid Inc. The company has made a concerted effort to provide more recycled products, particularly items containing post-consumer plastic resin, through its home, commercial and office products divisions. While minimizing the cost of the material and maintaining product quality, the company's Commercial Products Division has increased its use of post-consumer resin in collection containers. Some of those recycled plastic containers have become recycling bins used by residential curbside programs.

Displaying creativity as well as a commitment, Watson Paper Co. in Albuquerque, N.M., has developed a line of paper products from 100 percent denim and cotton, including scraps of blue jeans from a Levi-Strauss & Co. plant. About 80,000 pounds per month of Levi's material that was going to landfills is now being made into envelopes, business cards, packaging material and other specialty paper products.

Companies throughout the United States are taking similar steps toward closing the loop by making the effort and commitment to buy recycled products. No matter what its size, every company can make a difference.

Arkansans Make A Difference

For companies in Arkansas, closing the loop is just beginning. One of the many businesses leading the effort to buy recycled products is International Paper Co. To meet customer needs for high quality products, the company has expanded its recycled product lines and now offers more than 95 recycled grades of paper.

The Arkansas Recycling Coalition expects the alliance, which is still in its formative stage, to have 500 members by the end of 1995. According to an NRC spokesperson, Arkansas has been a pacesetter in many aspects of recycling, particularly among southern states. In April, Missouri, Colorado and Florida, along with Arkansas, endorsed a statewide Buy Recycled Business Alliance program. Wisconsin, Georgia and Maine are the most recent states to begin planning their own statewide alliances. Presently, 30 states have such programs.

For more information on the Arkansas Buy Recycled Business Alliance, visit the exhibit at the Arkansas Environmental Federation's 27th Annual Convention and Trade Show Oct. 25-27 at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, or write: Arkansas Recycling Coalition, P.O.Box 190825, Little Rock, AR 72219-0825.

Tina G. Wade wrote this article on behalf of the Arkansas Recycling Coalition.
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Title Annotation:Special Supplement; Arkansas Buy Recycled Business Alliance
Author:Wade, Tina G.
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 24, 1994
Previous Article:Flexibility key to meeting environmental standards.
Next Article:Industries form partnerships with water education program.

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