Friday, November 30, 2012

Another Chance to Win

Isn't seeing the end product one of the most effective forms of motivation? That is why we are constantly shown before and after weight loss pictures. Consider this my motivation for you. Keep it Green!
A few months ago I posted about a dog harness that was made from 100% recycled plastic (PET to be exact). The holiday decoration below has two things in common with the harness..
1. It's made from (mostly) a recycled item.
2. If you guess correctly you can be entered to win.
Check out our FB page and guess to be entered to win. Even better if you are new to our page or just haven't LIKED us yet  (what are you thinking?) you'll get even more chances to win. If you already LIKED us.. just pass this along to someone else for you to also be rewarded with extra entries in the drawing.

Here is our Facebook page just in case you'd like to go check it out (I really think you should).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Did you ever wonder?

Has anyone ever told you something and you buy into it.. you eat it up and walk away thinking, "Wow, I feel better about that person or that company"? Have you ever woke up the next morning or even just tried to explain it to someone else and as you are talking it out it just doesn't make sense anymore. I have. I've watched little news blurbs, read quick headlines or even what I thought was the the whole story only to look into it further and realize that it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.  I've listened to a presentation only to later find out that either the presenter wasn't fully upfront (or to give them the benefit) wasn't completely informed.

Many times in our industry this can be traced back to green washing. Companies or individuals want you to think that they are doing the right thing. They bank on the fact that you won't ask how. I am not an engineer and (unlike my husband and son) I don't really appreciate a good episode of "How It's Made" but I do have at least some common sense and sometimes things just don't make sense.

It's a fine line because you don't want to put those who are choosing to do the right thing and create a green product under more scrutiny. Who deserves more hassle for that? Yet companies who either choose to ride on the coat tails of green ideas without green action really need to answer the tough questions. I guess it's really the eternal struggle of life. It seems like there should be an easy way to tell ones intentions or really define a companies true goals but.. at this point all we can do is ask the questions and hope they can provide true answers.

The FTC has made the decision to "Crack Down on Green Washing"

Companies with hopes of green washing should prepare to put away the hose. It’s been a long time coming but the FTC has started to watch how “real” environmental statements are. They began by creating guidelines although after reviewing them myself a good portion of them are standard, honest business practices. Most manufactures have little to worry about as the majority of these guidelines will only affect those who are truly trying to green wash. To outline the new regulations there are a few basic areas that they focused on:

Basic Environmental Benefits: They put an end to the broad, unqualified claims “green/eco-friendly” these are difficult to prove and they suggest getting more detailed; “15 bottles were recycled to make this product”.

Carbon Offsets: The FTC requires that the company has reliable scientific evident to support any claims it makes.

Certifications & Seals of Approval: In order to promote certifications and seals the company must provide details on why they received them, even by providing a website for the consumer to look it up if the information is too great. They are also required to report any affiliations with those who provided the seals or certifications.

Compostable/Degradable: In order to claim that a product is compostable; competent and reliable scientific evidence that all materials in the product or package will breakdown into or become part of usable compost safely and in the same time as the materials with which it is composted. They must also specify if at home composting cannot occur. In order to label the item degradable they must prove that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature within one year. Items destined for landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year, so biodegradable claims for them shouldn't be made.

Free of/Non-Toxic/Ozone Safe & Friendly: The “free of” claims details are scary to me. As a person who tries to be an informed buyer this rule seems to allow producers to claim things that aren’t 100% true. They can claim to be free of yet still have trace amounts or background levels, or if the amount of the substance present doesn’t cause harm, or if the substance wasn’t added intentionally. My question.. please explain how is it “free of” said item if it’s really there? Manufactures cannot say a product is free of one item but substitute another like item with the same risks. Claiming a product is “free of” an ingredient that is never associated with the product just to gain environment recognition is considered deceptive. Marketers who claim that their product is non-toxic need competent and reliable scientific evidence that the product is safe for both people and the environment. It is deceptive to misrepresent that a product is ozone-friendly or safe for the ozone layer or atmosphere.

Recyclable or Recycled Content: If a product is recyclable but facilities are not available for at least 60% of consumers the marketer must make reference to this. The lower the available recycling facilities the more the company needs to emphasis limited recycling availability. Marketers can only make recycled content claims if the ingredients have been recovered or diverted from the waste stream during the manufacturing process or after consumer use. If the products contain only partial recycled content the amount must be specified “Made from 30% recycled content”. Should an item contain components that are used, reconditioned or remanufactured the product must be labeled accordingly.

Refillable: Unless the manufacturer provides a way or product to refill the package they cannot claim it is refillable. 

Made with Renewable Energy or Materials: Items labeled that they are made with renewable energy or materials should be specifically labeled to avoid confusion (made with solar energy or flooring made from bamboo which is replanted and grows faster than we use it). All or virtually all of a product must be manufactured using the renewable energy or material should this not be the case the percentage must be specified (i.e.: 20% produced utilizing wind energy or packaging made from 50% plant based renewables)

Source Reduction: When making source reduction claims the producer needs to specify exactly what has been reduced (i.e.: 10 percent less waste then our prior design)

As mentioned, these new guidelines are just a small step towards eliminating green washing and false environmental claims. As with any journey, the path is still long with many obstacles. This information was pulled from FTC’s website to view the complete Green Guidelines and legal resources related to environmental marketing you can go to

Friday, November 23, 2012

Give Thanks!

I apparently don't have the whole auto post thing down. I thought I did and it sure did seem simple enough but my "scheduled" Happy Thanksgiving post didn't happen as I expected. Sure this is a blog about keeping our planet healthy and green but it's so important to do that for our future. So.. in the spirit of being tardy for the party.. Wishing all a very Happy Holiday Season. It's never too late to give thanks.. on Thanksgiving and every day. What am I thankful for?? So much! Of course, my entire family but specifically, a wagon full of blessing and an amazing man to pull it (with me of course).  

What about you? What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The public has spoken

I'm still trying to recover from the political election season. I can't help but feel like even informed voters weren't necessary informed based on solely truth. I'm not a very politically minded person. I certainly have my own beliefs and feelings and I have never subscribed to the philosophy that when I rant about how I feel you will adjust how you do. What if you were promised the whole story (just the truth and nothing but the truth), wouldn't that make voting so much easier?

To relate this to the our industry we are happy to try and provide the full story about recycling and our recommendations. I have mentioned the Single Stream versus Dual Stream "debate" in the past. If you remember discussing single stream, I'm sure you remember my view on the situation. We stand strongly behind the idea of not mixing items together (especially food and drink containers that don't tend to be the cleanest to begin with) only to later separate them. Since the sum of our goals is to optimize recycling and reduce waste we feel that we are pretty justified in our reasoning for this topic.

1. Recycling Rates. The largest single reason for "the switch" has been attributed to ease. We are a world constantly searching for the easier way. It's been said that when you make it easier more people will do it (which I fully agree with). The trouble is just because you get more doesn't mean it's the positive results you are seeking. For example; if you place an employment ad for a very specialized field in a little local paper you may receive a lot of interested applicants but they won't necessarily be qualified. Just because more items are getting thrown into the bin doesn't always mean that more items are actually being recycled into new products. Residuals or out throws are the items that have been placed in the bin but do not currently have an effective way to be reused. It is not debatable that single stream has a higher (if not significantly higher) residual rate. This will be reflected in two ways;  some centers will deduct for contaminants (ie: a blanket 10% reduction) or other companies will simply let the money talk by reducing the rebates paid out. Even if you do a great job keeping the items rinsed; clean bottles will break, and rain will happen (both resulting in higher contamination)

Sum it up: Great, the township now has more participation in the recycling program and 30% more material in the bin (at pickup). After sorting the township now has 40% more material that is being trashed at the recycling center because it is contaminated.

2. Transportation Cost, fuel savings. This is a tough one because in some cases it could be accurate. For a small sized business who would need to pay for two dumpsters (commingle and paper) with little or no rebate for the material single stream, in a monetary stand point, makes more sense. The positive environmental impact is still greater in dual stream but single stream is better then trash (in most cases.. sometimes they are one in the same). Should you fit into the above description just be sure to double check with the hauler to ensure that it is actually being recycled. Trucks that pickup both the garbage and recycling at the same time, in the same truck (together) are in most cases are not handling the material in an environmentally friendly way. The cost savings,fuel savings argument typically does not work for larger townships or businesses. In most cases the rebate is greater for dual stream material and if the quantities collected are significant the difference in the rebate can mean a lot.

Sum it up: The cost saved in transportation fees (by those recycling substantial amounts) is typically less than the rebate lost. It is wise to evaluate this case by case but many times you aren't paying out for the transportation but you are not being paid as well for the material.

3. What is the real reason you recycle? If the reason you recycle is a financial one the idea of weighing the costs makes sense. If you feel that recycling is more of an ethical obligation and you are convicted to recycle every item to its fullest potential; your decision is quite clear.

Sum it up: Single stream is better then a landfill. Dual stream material typically has a much higher recyclability rate (it can be used to make more, higher end items because it is cleaner and contains less contamination). Technology in the single stream area is growing constantly but as stated so many times; it never makes sense to combine something to later try and pull it apart especially when dealing with "waste".
CRI has been adamant about what they stand for in regards to processing and we remain steadfast in our arguments. Unfortunately the market and the public has spoken (just as they have in the presidential election). You can place your vote and make your voice heard but your selection (no matter how convicted or founded you feel your opinions might be) is not always the one the majority votes for. CRI has now begun processing single stream material. We will continue to keep dual and single stream material separated and will continue to educate anyone who will listen about our thoughts but.. the public has spoken and we will make the best of it.