Day 5: Oct 15, 2009

January 27, 2010

Check out what I found:


Wow, 52% of Municipal Solid Waste was attributed to paper and paperboard products in 2007? Who’d thunk?

Okay…so while paper is the largest contributor to landfills, it has a recovery rate of above 50%. That’s pretty great. Plastic, on the other hand, has a much lower recovery rate. Why is that?

Now take a gander here:

So PET has the best recovery rate for plastic materials. We manufacture a lot of PET; that must mean a lot of our packages are recyclable. Hurray!

 And enter reality: Only PET BOTTLES are recovered in most American communities. Most other PET products, including our packages and anything labeled with the SPI resin identification #1 that does not have a thin neck ends up in a landfill. And this is because…?

 And lastly:

Okay, so there is a lot of energy stored in plastic, most of which ends up in a landfill. That seems silly, especially with the Al Gores of the world propagating the idea that we are running out of fossil fuel and must look for alternative sources for energy. Why look for energy from algae, which is awesome, don’t get me wrong, when we could just establish a better infrastructure for recovering the stored energy in plastic, a.k.a WTE? Europe is all over incineration and energy recovery…what gives?

Why not spear-head an industry-led initiative that looks to integrate non-bottle plastic packaging into the existing recycling infrastructure, I thought to myself? After all, the fact that all the plastic packaging besides bottles ends up in a landfill is bizarre; therefore, we not collaborate with those along the supply chain to find an end-of-life option for plastic packaging? Sounds like a great idea, I thought to myself.

I then followed up with Robert Carlson after my thought baby of starting a recycling initiative:

Hey Robert,

Thank you very much for the email—I understand you are busy so I really appreciate you taking the time to respond to my inquiries. I am in the process of trying to spear-head an industry led recycling program aimed at recapturing PET clamshell packages for material recovery. Yippee!

Hope all is well in sunny California. Take care and I look forward to speaking with you again in the future. If you come across anything about sustainability and packaging that you think would be of interest, please don’t hesitate to send it my way.


Chandler Slavin

Tune in tomorrow to see Robert’s feedback, which marks the beginning of a very long and convoluted attempt to alter the recycling infrastructure in America.

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