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What Is Going On With Recycling?

By Frank M. Antonacci

I am sure many of you, given the nature of your employment, are seen as the resident recycling expert at any summer picnic, family gathering, or kids sports event. I know I am. More than ever “RECYCLING” is the subject of everyday conversation and concern, sparked by a deepening concern by the general public regarding the environment, along with the considerable shifts in recycling markets worldwide turning the recycling business model on its head! Headlines about recycling are everywhere, and my goal is to arm you with some real answers from our industry leader’s perspective regarding the present and future of recycling in our business and in our communities and dispel some commonly held, misleading ideas.

Here are some of the questions and answers.

Is it true that we don’t recycle anymore because China stopped taking the stuff?

No, none of our companies have changed our policies regarding handling of recyclables. We have found different markets for all the recycling commodities, although they are at much different prices than they once were. In some cases, we are even paying to ensure that material we collect as recyclables are  being recycled or reused. We have also invested in our facilities to deal with the increased contamination we have seen in the recycling stream.

What did China do that ruined the recycling market so much?

China enacted a policy called the “National Sword” on January 1, 2018. This policy essentially made it impossible to import recyclables from outside of China into the country. This was a major problem as China previously purchased 70% of the recyclables generated in the United States and an even higher percentage from the United States coastal states. The domestic and global market for recyclables became flooded with material causing the prices for the commodities to plummet.

Why did the cost of recycling go up so much?

The cost of recycling to the customer- whether a municipality, an individual resident, or a commercial customer- did not rise because costs went up, but rather because the value of the recycling stream fell and that value was used to offset much of the cost to the customer.

How much did the recycling values drop?

The market for recyclables fell to the lowest levels we have ever seen. Cardboard once sold for $175/ ton dropping to $25/ ton while newspaper once fetched over $100/ ton and now can cost upwards of $50/ton to ensure that it goes to a recycler. The prices are end market prices that do not account for costs to collect, process, package and market the materials.

Is it even worth recycling if it may cost as much as trash now?

Yes, for many reasons:

  1. While we are experiencing one of the most challenging environments we have seen for recycling, commodity pricing is cyclical and historically we have seen recovery from other challenging times.
  2. Especially in the northeast, there is a finite space for final disposal capacity. Right now, about 30% of the materials we discard will never see a burnplant or landfill rather they are processed through local recycling infrastructure to be used in new products. Practically speaking, the disposal capacity just does not exist to handle these materials if they were no longer put through the recycling infrastructure. Abandoning recycling would cause pricing to skyrocket on all waste streams.
  3. Recycling is an investment in the future of our environment. There is value in ensuring that materials are used and reused as many times as possible until we truly must dispose of them.
Automated Material Handling

How do things get better for recycling?

Markets need to develop around the world, especially in the United States to handle these materials. On the positive side of the story many shuttered old paper mills are being purchased, revamped and reopened throughout the United States to take advantage of the supply domestically. The domestic development of these markets may provide the type of stability and opportunity in recycling like the discovery of natural gas did for the energy markets in the United States and would lead to a much more stable and sustainable recycling model for decades to come.

What can I do?

Recycle right, and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Since recycling became mainstream in 1994, the recycling stream has gradually become dirtier and dirtier. Much of this contamination (as we call it in the industry) comes from good intentioned customers seeking to recycle as much as possible and putting non-recyclables (contamination) in the recycling bin because it feels good to think you are recycling. The truth is that this “wishful recycling” contaminates the whole stream and makes it harder to sort out and market the right recyclables. There is a great resource at http://www.recyclect.com/ which shows you “what’s in and what’s out” of your recycling bin. This will not only improve the quality of our materials that we market, but more importantly it will keep our fellow teammates safer at our recycling facilities.

You can also encourage your local communities and politicians to support the local recycling infrastructure and the value it brings to all communities. Recycling and the accompanying services provide for all our families and protect the environment for generations to come. We must ensure that uninformed politicians and public officials do not make uneducated and shortsighted decisions that could be detrimental to the future of recycling. 

EREF Fellow Sponsored by The Antonacci Foundation

Komal Charania joined EREF in March 2017. She graduated with honors in May 2018 with a degree from North Carolina State University in Environmental Engineering. At EREF, she worked on the State of Practice of Landfill Leachate Management and Treatment in the U.S. project (see description below) within the Data and Policy program. This involved gathering available leachate quality and quantity data in order to get a better understanding of the state of leachate generation, treatment, and management in the United States. In February 2018, she attended GWMS with EREF and presented a poster on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in landfills.

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Thank you to all of our veterans!

Thank you to all our veterans; past, present and future, including some of our own employees!

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USA Hauling and Recycling and MGM Springfield Team Up to Participate in Source to Sea Cleanup

Chicopee, MA – On Saturday, September 29th USA Hauling and Recycling and MGM Springfield teamed up to take part in the annual Source to Sea Cleanup of the Connecticut River. This cleanup is hosted by the Connecticut River Conservancy and brings together thousands of volunteers across New England for local cleanups. This year, USA and MGM brought a group of approximately 40 volunteers to Chicopee, including the varsity and junior varsity women’s field hockey teams from Minnechaug Regional High School, to clean up the area of Tourtelotte Avenue in Chicopee. MGM Springfield employees representing Finance, Warehouse, Front Desk, Front Services, Mlife Desk and Guest Experience participated.

“USA Hauling and Recycling is excited to organize and work with MGM Springfield to clean this particularly tricky part of the river,” said April Regan of USA Hauling and Recycling. “The Source to Sea organizers have been looking for a group to tackle this section for a while and we are excited to step up and do the job.”

The Connecticut River runs from northern New Hampshire to Long Island Sound and is enjoyed by every community along its path. Unfortunately, the river is also used as a spot for illegal dumping.

“MGM Springfield is proud to partner with USA Hauling and Recycling and the Connecticut River Conservancy at this year’s Source to Sea Cleanup event,” said Alex Dixon, General Manager, MGM Springfield.  “Our team members enthusiastically rolled up their sleeves and worked beside our neighbors to improve our community. It’s these types of opportunities that make Springfield and New England healthier in every way and remind us that we are part of a shared ecosystem that shapes how we live today and how will move forward in the future.”

From 9:00 AM until 12:00 PM, volunteers spread out and filled garbage bags with plastic bags, tires and an assortment of other litter. The bags collected by the volunteers individually may have not seemed like much but, according to the Connecticut River Conservancy, it adds up.

“In the past 20 years, [Source to Sea Cleanup] volunteers have removed over 997 tons of trash from the Connecticut River and its tributaries,” said Alicea Charamut, CRC River Steward.

USA Hauling and Recycling also participated in the Source to Sea Event with a second cleanup site in Windsor, Connecticut. The groups combined equaled nearly 60 volunteers and collected two dumpsters full of garbage from the river.

About USA Hauling and Recycling

As a local, family owned company, USA recognizes and embraces its role as a leader in the community. Giving back to the communities in which we live has always been a value of our management and has been embraced and embodied by our employees. USA is proud to be a steward of the environment and support the communities in which its employees live and work through their long relationship with the Connecticut River Conservancy.

About MGM Springfield

MGM Springfield covers three city blocks in the heart of downtown Springfield, Mass. Creating 3,000 permanent jobs and igniting a cultural and economic renaissance in a historic New England city, the resort, which combines new construction with revived historic buildings, offers more than 125,000 square feet of gaming space, a 250-room boutique hotel on Main Street, superior spa services, diverse retail and inspired dining headlined by award-winning Chef Michael Mina’s Cal Mare. MGM Springfield also features the seven-screen Regal luxury cinema complex, bowling lanes, a seasonal skating rink and outdoor marketplace displaying local art, events and talent. MGM Springfield opened on August 24, 2018. For additional information, please visit www.mgmspringfield.com.

USA Hauling Driver Participates (And Wins) in the Annual Truck Driving Championships

On Saturday June 9th, the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC) hosted its annual Truck Driving Championships at the FedEx Freight Facility in Windsor Locks.  USA Hauling & Recycling proudly sent Shaun Bryant (East Windsor) to represent our company this year

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Shaun did an outstanding job in the competition, he took home the overall “Rookie of the Year” award, then the “Rookie of the year” award for the written compliance test and the overall 2nd place finishing trophy for the entire competition!   3 wins for a first year MTAC competition driver is a very difficult thing to achieve!  We are all are all very proud of his accomplishments here at USA Hauling & Recycling!  

 Many thanks to the friends, family and other drivers that came to show support!

Curbing Confusion and Contamination

RecycleCT Foundation Inc.’s public recycling outreach campaign throughout Connecticut shows how working together can improve recycling rates.

When Sherill Baldwin traveled to Nova Scotia, one of the three Maritime Provinces of Canada, she saw similar signage for recycling throughout the area. Baldwin, an environmental analyst in the sustainable materials management unit at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), says as she toured the province, regardless of where she went, she noticed universal messaging with color-coded signage for recycling being used across the province.

Baldwin brought this idea back to Connecticut. She serves as staff support for the RecycleCT Foundation Inc., a Hartford, Connecticut-based state-chartered fund that helps to raise public awareness and participation in recycling. The fund combines public and private resources to support the state’s recycling goals and material management strategies.

Read the rest of the article on RecyclingToday.com…

Touch A Truck in Torrington 2018

We recently participated in the annual Touch A Truck event in Torrington. This year’s event was help on Saturday, June 2 from 11:00-2:00 in the Lowe’s parking lot on Winsted Road. Along with our residential side loader, there were emergency response vehicles, construction vehicles, ice cream trucks, and so much more. Our driver Brian Becker was on hand with his son Julian to help families learn about our truck and allow them to sit in the driver’s seat.

The event also included appearances by mascots from the Hartford Yard Goats and the New Britain Bees, as well as a bike rodeo. The rodeo was fun, engaging and helped participants build confidence in their riding. Bicyclists practiced and developed skills that will help them to become better bicyclists and learn how to avoid crashes. Thank you to everyone that helped make this event a success and we look forward to seeing everyone again next year!

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Second Annual CFR Charity Row To Be Held June 16 At Sonny’s Place

The second annual CFR (CrossFit Revelation) Charity Row will be held Saturday, June 16 at Sonny’s Place in Somers, CT from 9am-12pm. Last year our charity was the MS Society and we were able to donate $12,000! ​CrossFit Revelation has selected Wade’s Army as the charity to row for. Wade’s Army was founded by the Welbourn and DeBruin families to recruit others to use their power for good and bring the fight to pediatric cancer. They are a non-profit bringing the fight against neuroblastoma and remembering Wade DeBruin’s battle with this deadly pediatric cancer. No one at any age deserves to get cancer, but when a cancer targets toddlers, it turns our world inside out. Take a closer look at www.wadesarmy.org.

Donovan Abbe
Donovan Abbe, a 9-year-old from Enfield who is currently battling neuroblastoma.

People can help by joining a team, making a donation, becoming a sponsor or donating a raffle prize. Raffle tickets will be available to purchase throughout the event, with winners being chosen during lunch. Proceeds from the raffle will benefit Donovan Abbe, a 9-year-old from Enfield who is currently battling neuroblastoma. Raffle prizes include Patriots tickets, UConn tickets, a 1-month membership to Romeo Athletics, gift cards and more.

This year’s event will be a marathon row, with teams of 5 or less rowing a total of 26.2 miles. Registration opens at 8am with the row starting at 9am. Each team is responsible for raising a minimum of $500. To watch an interview about the event with Andrew Romeo , owner of Romeo Athletics and Crossfit Revelation visit www.westernmassnews.com.  If you have any questions, please reach out to Scott Montemerlo at cfrcharityrow@gmail.com. The event is sponsored by USA Hauling & Recycling.

USA Waste Provides Waste and Recycling Service for the Belchertown Little League

USA Waste and Recycling would like to thank the Belchertown Little League for giving us the opportunity to help out with their waste and recycling needs!!!

NEW Belchertown customers will receive one free month of service!!!  CURRENT Belchertown customers can also receive one free month of service for referring a new customer!!!

Contact our amazing customer service team at:

1-800-998-2984 | services@usarecycle.com | www.usarecycle.com