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A New Plant in Indiana Uses a Process Called ‘Pyrolysis’ to Recycle Plastic Waste. Critics Say It’s Really Just Incineration

By James Bruggers Photo: James Bruggers

The bales, bundles and bins of plastic waste are stacked 10 feet high in a shiny new warehouse that rises from a grassy field near a town known for its bright yellow smiley-face water tower.
Jay Schabel exudes the same happy optimism. He’s president of the plastics division of Brightmark Energy, a San Francisco-based company vying to be on the leading edge of a yet-to-be-proven new industry—chemical recycling of plastic.

09/11/22
                                                               

The Department of Energy wants feedback on how to recycle lithium-ion batteries

By Justine Calma Photo: Akio Kon, Getty Images

The Department of Energy just took a first step toward launching new lithium-ion battery recycling programs in the US. It issued a Request for Information (RFI) yesterday to ask for public input on how to spend $335 million in federal investments for battery recycling that was included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed last year.

08/30/22
                                                               

Increasing the Circularity of #1 Plastic (PET) Recycling

By Mary McDonald

Here’s a trick question. Can #1 plastics — otherwise known as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastics — go in the recycling bin?
Bet you thought the answer was yes. That’s only half right. It’s a trick question because the answer’s complicated. Most curbside recycling programs accept #1 plastics for recycling, but only certain forms of it. Bottles that hold various products—shampoo, salad dressing, water, and soda — are almost always accepted. Other types of #1 plastic containers — made by a method called thermoforming — are not accepted or used in the recycling stream.
That may be about to change.

08/17/22
                                                               

Can You Recycle Aluminum Foil?

By Lauren Leffer Photo: Azfar Arts

Aluminum cans are the quintessential easy recyclable. There’s no draconian number-sorting scheme, no lids to remove, and usually the quickest of rinses serves to get them clean. Beverage cans are infinitely recyclable, as they can be processed into new cans, sheet metal, or anything else aluminum any number of times, without the material degrading or losing strength—unlike plastic, which rapidly turns into trash, if it’s ever recycled at all.

08/02/22
                                                               

‘We Want To Keep Plastic Out Of The Environment And In The Economy’

By Jamie Hailstone Photo: Justin Sullivan , Getty images

The global packaging company Amcor has joined forces with the Minderoo Foundation for the Sea the Future project, which plans to build a worldwide network of sorting and recycling plants.

07/11/22
                                                               

California requires plastics makers to foot the bill for recycling

By Winston Choi-Schagrin Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

The landmark legislation also restricts single-use plastics. Because California’s economy is so big, experts say, the law could have far-reaching effects.

07/01/22
                                                               

Why we need to recycle clean energy technologies — and how to do it

By Jeff St. John

In the past decade, solar panels, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries have boomed in production volume and plummeted in price. That’s enabled many countries to accelerate the transition to lower-carbon electricity. It’s also helped electric vehicles become more mainstream, an important step in the push to decarbonize transportation.

06/13/22
                                                               

Even the clothes you donate probably end up in a landfill

By Nell Durfee

Inside a large industrial building in Jamaica, Queens, I sighed, taking a quick break from ripping staples off of fabric. My back was to the windows, but even if I wanted to look outside, I’d have a problem. A mountain of trash bags blocked any view, each stuffed with thousands of tiny fabric scraps from fashion companies around New York City. I had signed up to sort through the material, but after working for three long hours alongside five other volunteers, we had barely made it through five bags. Dozens remained. I was at the headquarters of FabScrap, a textile recycling company that processes material leftover from fashion production. They’re just one of many well-intentioned textile recycling companies that have bumped up against a painful reality: There is simply too much clothing to process. As it stands, 84 percent of all unwanted clothes end up in landfills, according to Newsweek. In New York City alone, this comes to about 400 million pounds thrown away annually—6 percent of the city’s waste stream. Traditionally, unwanted secondhand clothes are sent abroad, but some countries have started to reject the goods. Technology to transform the old clothes into new items isn’t ready yet, so many recyclers and designers are focusing on something else: getting consumers to buy less. “We have to educate consumers about the mindless consumption being forced down our throats,” says Adam Baruchowitz, the founder of Wearable Collections, a secondhand clothing retailer. “We need to be getting people to think twice about how quickly they consume things.”

06/11/22
                                                               

Plastic recycling doesn’t work and will never work

By Judith Enck and Jan Dell Photo: Katie Martin / The Atlantic; Getty

If the plastics industry is following the tobacco industry’s playbook, it may never admit to the failure of plastics recycling.

05/30/22
                                                               

Recycling bills need action by NYS Legislature

By NYS Legislature Photo: Morgan Campbell

Lots of flotsam and jetsam is floating through Albany during the final days of the legislative session but it is finally time to deal with an actual trash problem: New York’s outdated and unworkable recycling laws.

05/23/22