The Past, Present and Future of Recycling

The Past – We’ve Come a Long Way!


Recycling has come a long way over the past few decades – in the US there wasn’t a single recycling program in place until 1973 (in The Hidden Past of Recycling you’ll read that the concept of recycling was widely used in the past, however only privately or individually). Now, there are over 8,000 programs in operation. The first ever curbside recycling program in Canada began in 1973, the program initially served 80,000 homes in the Toronto area and eventually curbside programs and recycling centers were all over the country.

While we’ve come a long way since the explosion of the environmental movement in the 1970s, our recycling programs still have a long way to go as a collective group. Keep reading and you’ll see how we currently reduce our waste today and how we can improve our recycling habits in the future.

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The Present – Strategies for Zero Waste

Recycling Blog

Currently the US recycles about one third of the municipal trash (waste generated in homes, schools and non-industrial businesses) and Canada recycles about 21 percent of what would otherwise end up in the solid waste stream. Here are some strategies you can do today that will immediately increase how much you recycle:

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Closing the Recycling Loop

Separating your trash from your recyclables is only one step in the recycling loop – in order to close the gap, manufacturers need to start making more products out of recycled material and consumers need to focus on buying these products. Creating merchandise from scratch is often very harsh and damaging to the environment, the more life that we can get out of a product made from post-consumer recycled content, the better!

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Compost, Compost, Compost!

The amount of organic waste that ends up in landfill or burned in an incinerator is a little alarming – 60 percent of household waste in the US is compostable but only 8 percent of Americans compost. Canada has done a fairly good job on the composting front – as of 2011, over half of Canadian households (61%) had participated in some form of composting. If you have a green thumb, composting is the way to go – you’ll never have a better looking garden in the summer!

And if you’re an enthusiastic early adapter to up-and-coming composting trends, be sure to take a look at The Humanure System, which you can guess from the name, involves recycling your poop—and no, it’s obviously not for everyone…

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Keep the Garbage Bucket as Empty as Possible

Recycling and composting are great ways to keep what’s going in the garbage to a minimum, but there are more ways to stem the garbage cans’ burly appetite. Pre-Cycling is a great way to reduce how much trash your house is sending to the curb – buying in bulk to reduce packaging, using reusable bags, having a refillable water bottle or coffee mug – these are just a few examples of how you can pre-cycle..

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The Future – Strategies to Boost Recycling Rates


While recycling has increased in North America, the amount of trash produced has increased as well. The amount of material recycled today equals the total amount of trash produced in 1960. While recycling programs are a continuing success, experts say in future we should focus on limiting the amount of trash we produce to begin with, doing so will help lower the amount of greenhouse gasses being released into the air.

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Updated and Expended Bottle Bills

Having a bottle bill in place is a very effective way to get people recycling. A bottle bill (or container deposit law), requires a refundable deposit on beverage containers ensuring they are returned for recycling. Ideally, every state should have a container deposit law, but unfortunately only 10 states have a bottle bill in place – many of which don’t include plastic bottles. If more states could enact and expand these laws, the amount of plastics ending up in landfills would drop drastically.

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Manage Electronic Waste

Technology is always changing, and with the explosion of smartphones, tablets and laptops over the past decade, it has meant an increase in the amount of electronic waste that is being produced. In 2011, the US generated 3.41 million tons of e-waste, of which only 850,000 tons were recycled – the rest ended up in landfills or incinerators, the toxic chemicals that electronic components are made from end up seeping into our soil or up in the atmosphere. Businesses that sell electronics are beginning to take responsibility for the amount of e-waste produced, offering trade in programs allowing them to recycle unwanted gadgets – some even give you some money back!

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Stop Using Plastic Bags

This ties back to pre-cycling, but the numbers on how much plastic bags are thrown out versus how many are recycled warrant its own section – 380 billion plastic bags are used a year in the US alone and less than 5 percent are recycled! Plastic made with PET (polyethylene terephthalate, in case you were wondering why we needed an acronym for it) do not biodegrade, they do break down in UV light (photo-degradation), but that can take 10-100 years. That’s if exposed to sunlight, and since most garbage is buried at a landfill, the whole process takes even longer.

Currently, less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled each year. Recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4,000—the recycled product can then be sold for only $32. We don’t claim to be the best mathematicians in the world, but we’re fairly confident we wouldn’t want to enter into the business of recycling plastic bags for profit.

Efforts are being done all over to get people to ditch the plastic bags, supermarkets offer reusable cloth bags and now charge you for plastic bags, and San Francisco has even flat out banned the distribution of plastic bags in the city. Fingers crossed that these measures are the beginning of the end of the dreaded plastic bag.

This should most certainly be enough information to get your started on your way to recycling stardom. Stay tuned and we’ll fill you in on the sensible, not-so-sensible and downright strange recycling trends that you’ll start to see in the coming years—including, of course, recycling your #1’s and 2’s.

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Matt Bradbury

Written by Matt Bradbury – Sustainability Research Analyst

Information provided to you by WIH Resource Group, Inc

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Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

More information on WIH Resource Group and its services can be found at

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California Recycling Program is on The Rocks – WIH Resource Group

For years California has courted a reputation as an eco-friendly, green-minded leader, but the state now finds its most basic program of recycling beverage bottles and cans mired in debt and litigation.

Dozens of supermarket recycling sites have shut down recently as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state legislators spar over how to close a massive gap in the program’s budget.   California’s 23-year-old recycling program, managed by the Department of Conservation through fees charged to beverage buyers, has been hurt this year by recession, rising redemption rates and raids of its coffers to help ease the state’s budget woes.

Schwarzenegger and the Democratic-controlled Legislature concede that the program, which collected more than 16 billion beverage containers last year, is in fiscal distress – but each has rejected the other’s solution.  “This is an important program for California and we are currently looking at ways to improve funding in this down economy,” said Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Rachel Arrezola.

Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste, a nonprofit advocacy group, said consumers are going to find it increasingly difficult to recycle their beverage containers.  “The net result is likely to be a drop in the recycling rate,” he said.  Shoppers remain entitled to their nickel or dime deposits for returning glass, plastic or aluminum beverage containers, but many consumers could be forced to drive farther, wait longer or comply with shorter center operating hours.

The number of supermarket parking-lot recyclers has grown gradually in recent years to about 2,100. But two of the largest operators, Tomra Pacific and NexCycle, announced the shutdown of about 90 centers recently, laying off more than 100 workers.  Tomra, which projects losses of $9 million this year, has joined with two other firms to sue the state, seeking to “stop the dismantling” of the program. Exacerbating problems, the scrap value of aluminum cans has plummeted in the past year, and the market for other containers has struggled.

“If consumers can no longer find convenient outlets for recycling used bottles and cans, they are more likely to go back to their old ways of discarding them in landfills – or worse, on streets, beaches and other property,” the lawsuit said.  “This will essentially end the Recycling Program as we have known it,” the suit said.

By law, supermarkets not served by parking-lot recyclers are supposed to either pay the state $100 a day – only one store is doing so – or redeem the containers themselves, but many do not.  In a telephone check of 15 such supermarkets Friday, only six accept empty cans and bottles. 

Many supermarkets are not prepared to pick up the slack from closures of parking-lot recyclers because of the time it would take to count bags of containers and the health and safety implications of doing so where food is sold, said Dave Heylen of the California Grocers Association.

“It’s something that would be quite a hardship,” he said.

Department of Conservation officials declined to discuss Tomra’s lawsuit or allegations of harm. But state officials clearly are not trying to kill the program because both Schwarzenegger and the Democratic-controlled Legislature have tried to intervene, thus far unsuccessfully.

In May, state finance officials projected a $162 million deficit for the program by July 2010, which sparked across-the-board cuts that affected subsidies paid to collection centers but not to consumers who redeem beverages.

Schwarzenegger’s relief proposal focused on targeted cuts and on compressing subsidiary efforts, such as for public education and recycling incentives, into a new program of competitive grants.

The Legislature rejected Schwarzenegger’s plan during budget talks and crafted its own proposal, Senate Bill 402, which would have relied on expansion rather than contraction to bolster the program.

In vetoing SB 402, Schwarzenegger said that consumers would have been hurt by provisions to double the fee on 20-ounce sodas, from 5 to 10 cents, and to expand the kinds of beverages and types of containers accepted.

“I recognize that without this bill there is an immediate hardship,” his veto message said, but “the lasting effects of this bill are far worse.”

As a stopgap, Schwarzenegger said he would order emergency regulations to require beverage distributors to submit payments to the state every two months, not three, which is expected to generate a one-time infusion of about $100 million.

California’s recycling program partly has been a victim of its own success, because each redeemed container takes a nickel or dime from funds for subsidies, outreach or operational funds.

Redemption rates have risen from 67 percent in 2007 to 74 percent in 2008, and to 85 percent for the first six months of 2009.

Meanwhile, beverage sales from January to June were 325 million containers less – about 3 percent – than for the same time span in 2008.

Bottom line? Projected revenue has dropped by about $74 million the past year, from $1.15 billion to a projected $1.086 billion.

But Chuck Riegle of Tomra said the most painful blow was self-inflicted by the state: Politicians have raided recycling coffers, through loans, to help balance the state budget.

Tomra’s suit seeks to force repayment of about $415 million that otherwise would have been used for recycling.

Four times this decade, the state has borrowed beverage funds, most recently during the current fiscal year when more than $99 million was diverted to the state’s general fund.

The deadline for paying back $286 million borrowed in 2002 and 2003 initially was June 2009, but it was extended three years ago to 2013. Only $30 million has been repaid, records show.

In borrowing fee revenue, the state requires that no harm be done to the affected program, yet more than half of this year’s projected $162 million deficit consisted of the $99 million loan to bolster the state’s general fund.

Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said the multiple raids on recycling funds, the lack of timely repayment and the harm caused to collection centers raise questions about whether fees were spent illegally.

“It changes what otherwise might be characterized as a legitimate fee into a tax of questionable legality,” Coupal said.

State finance spokesman H.D. Palmer disagreed, saying that the program was projected to have an $81 million balance when legislation was signed in February to borrow for the next fiscal year. Changing market conditions made the deficit evident months later, in a May budget revision, Palmer said.

“This is just one example of the dramatic fluctuations we’ve seen in the state’s fiscal picture as a result of the recession,” he said.

Schwarzenegger’s veto message for SB 402 said he supports repaying past loans and banning any future loans from recycling coffers to the state’s general fund.

Sources: Fresno Bee and WIH Resource Group

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Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation Hosts its Second Annual “Play It Forward” Golf Fundraiser

PHOENIX April 14, 2009 Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation (Rainbow) announced that it has scheduled its Second Annual “Play It Forward” Golf Fundraiser** for May 1st, 2009 at the Rio Verde Country Club.


In order to continue to provide much needed resident services, Rainbow has put together their Second Annual “Play It Forward” Golf Fundraiser Tournament. The tournament is scheduled to take place on May 1st, 2009 at the Rio Verde Country Club from 10:30am to 8:00pm MST.  The Rio Verde Country Club is a “Member’s Only” private golf club nestled at the base of Four Peaks Mountains in Rio Verde, Arizona, just east of Scottsdale, with spectacular views from each hole on the course.  Jay Critcher, the Club’s General Manager, and Darryl Janisse, Head Golf Professional, are honored that the Rio Verde Country Club has been selected again as the course to hold such an important event and both support the well being of not for profit organizations in Arizona. 


Rainbow reached out to many national and local companies and organizations to commit to hole sponsorships that also aligned with their core values. The hole sponsorships includes: green fees, cart fees, range balls for warm-up, lunch, and a plated dinner with the awards ceremony given by the Head Golf Professional, Darryl Janisse, of the Rio Verde Country Club. 


Rainbow is welcoming new sponsors to the event this year and encourages you to be a part of something empowering and life changing.


When asked what this event means to her, Flynann Janisse, Executive Director for Rainbow stated, “I joined the non-profit world because it offered a means for me to use the skills I had developed over the past 20 years in housing and pay it forward. The opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of one or many pulled at my very soul. I never imagined my life’s work would become giving life to others.  As an organization, we are making a difference in so many ways and the need for our support is growing every day.  The face of our homeless population has changed nationally to your friend, your neighbor, our military, your family and the teachers of our schools.  We at Rainbow can offer housing and the supportive services necessary to get those in need back on their feet and once again part of our communities.”


Sponsorship Opportunities

Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation has set a goal in the coming years to impact 100% of their resident population at all of the communities they serve and to continue to expand their mission to the surrounding communities. This goal can only be achieved by the generosity of other businesses, private donations, and partnering with other non-profit leaders.  Donations of services, materials, etc. are greatly appreciated. For more information or to make a donation, visit Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation is an IRS 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit Organization where all donations and sponsorships are 100% tax deductible.


Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation’s Mission

To create and preserve quality affordable housing for families and individuals of diverse ethnic, social and economic backgrounds while supporting their well-being through the delivery of on-site social service programs. 


About Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation:

Rainbow Housing was formed in 2002 to create and preserve affordable housing for families throughout the United States. . Rainbow has successfully turned around a number of distressed properties, thereby preserving a significant amount of affordable housing, and setting the standard for neighborhood redevelopment and community revitalization. Rainbow also established a Resident Programs and Services Division in 2005 to provide on-site resident services to their residents and the surrounding community.


Serving over 4,000 low-income households nationwide, Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation works closely with its Board of Directors, social service providers, property owners and residents to create service plans that can assist in expanding educational and employment opportunities, enhancing the communities they serve. At each community office, Rainbow employs a Resident Service Coordinator whose primary responsibility is to link residents to appropriate agencies and oversee the on-site programs and partnerships with community-based organizations.


To learn more about Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation and its unique services visit

For Further Information:

Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation

Jeremy Hilton – 623.889.3394

Flynann Janisse – 623.889.3391

Website: http://

WIH Resource Group & Waste Savings Involvement with Rainbow Housing
WIH Resource Group supports Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation’s mission and goals in providing housing to those in need.  WIH’s affiliate Company, Waste Savings, Inc. (WSI), assisted Rainbow Housing by evaluating and assessing the opportunity to reduce Rainbow’s solid waste collection and disposal costs at two of their largest multi-family housing locations in Houston Texas.  WSI also assisted Rainbow in securing free recycling bins, enough for each of the 1,100 families living at Rainbow’s two properties.  The bins were provided through the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR).

About WIH Resource Group
WIH Resource Group (WIH) is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona USA and is a global solutions provider for environmental, waste management, recycling, transportation, financial and logistical matters. 
WIH and its Associates provides its clients with fully integrated solutions to day to day business challenges, solid waste, recycling and disposal issues, as well as transportation and logistical challenges.  We offer creative solutions to solve complex business issues and related matters for government municipalities, industrial companies, environmental, engineering firms, non-profits and commercial customers alike. 
WIH Resource Group conducts market related research and develops client-specific solutions to provide its clients with the information, relevant data, market analysis that pertains to each individual client.  WIH Staff takes our Client relationships seriously and strive to exceed our client’s individual expectations and stated needs.  We look to establish long term relationships with our clients, ones where we are called on regularly to assist our clients in developing viable and sustainable solutions. 
WIH’s unique client solutions come from our combination of in-depth industry experience and the related knowledge we have gained in working with our various clients.  In addition, several members of our staff spent over forty five years (combined) with some of the largest Fortune 500 solid waste management companies and the largest provider of solid waste management services in North America, in various senior-level key management positions throughout the United States.
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