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Fw: [GreenYes] Re: #3-7 plastics at curbside
- Subject: Fw: [GreenYes] Re: #3-7 plastics at curbside
- From: "Peter Anderson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2002 09:56:54 -0600
Tim Krupnik and Pat Franklin ask about whether it is good recycling policy
to change the common practice of collecting plastic bottles.
Currently most programs ask residents to only sort #s 1 (PET) and 2 (HDPE)
for recycling. APC proposes to re-educate residents to sort all plastic
bottles instead ("all bottles" programs). They argue and provide studies
that they state shows that, all bottles programs (1) increases recovery of
PET and HDPE and (2) does not create any contamination problems.
Tim points out that it may not be the best public policy to imply to the
public that #3-7's are being recycled when in fact they are not. That this
is one awful way to maintain the essential respect among the public for
recycling is a very critical point. For, in fact, the carefully separated
#3-7s are, in communities which do not export to China, being thrown away at
either the MRF or reclaimer, according to the APC's own statement at the
end of the APC's article on the subject in the June 2000 issue of Resource
But the problems run far deeper. If the 3-7's were limited to polyolefins
(i.e. LDPE and PP), I would not have any abiding substantive problem for
two are close "kissing cousins" of HDPE and can readily be sorted with
pigmented HDPE and not lead to noticeable problems in any of the tests that
the Plastic Redesign Project has run (but if anyone has testing that shows
to the contrary, please let me know.)
The nub of the issue, and the defining one for this discussion is #3, PVC,
is a critical cross contaminant of its look-alike resin, PET, at even the
lowest trace levels.
Because the all-bottle program is not intended to discourage participants
from including resins numbered #3-7 that most #1&2-only programs presently
do discourage, one would expect, and one does see very substantial increases
in the proportion of PVC in all-bottle programs.
Certainly it is true that there are optical sort systems that can detect PVC
from PET, but what is not recognized is that most of them, in the real world
in which the bottles are degraded and clumped together at the MRF and
reclaimer, cannot economically sort PVC when their proportion in the PET
bale exceeds very low amounts, generally thought to be between 1-2%. More
than that, and the sensitivity of the equipment must be increased in order
to insure that the PVC levels in the final product are way below the 20 ppm
level needed to be recycled, especially back into high end product. When the
sensitivity is thus increased, false positives (i.e. the quantity of PET
incorrectly rejected with the PVC) becomes so large that the wasted PET
sinks the ability to market the end recycled product which has to compete
against virgin. Telling the public that #3 is now recyclable -- esp. when
it, in fact, is not -- will most certainly, if the program spreads, increase
PVC levels to the point where PET will be both too costly to process and
produce a lower level of quality that will downmarket our product, and
foreclose us from the coming lucrative bottle-to-bottle market.
As to the claim that there are increases in #'s 1 & 2 with all-bottles,
first it needs to be said that even if this were true -- and it is not --
that uptick would not offset the loss of the ability to economically recycle
PET at all. Even on it's own stated terms, however, the studies that APC
performed do not in fact prove what APC claims they do and were fatally
flawed, because: (1) The methodology is seriously flawed; (2) The hypothesis
is contradicted by the APC's own studies; (3) The actual underlying numbers
are inconclusive, even if that flaw is ignored; and (4) The implementation
of the studies has serious defects.
I was asked to perform a detailed analysis of all-bottles programs and the
APC studies that is said to support them by the California Integrated Waste
Management Board. That detailed report has not yet been posted to their
website, but should be very shortly. If anyone would like an advance draft
copy please let me know. The issues are somewhat complex, and a full
understanding requires a review of that and similar technical reviews, the
above is just a quick summary that doesn't touch on all the subtleties.
RECYCLEWORLDS CONSULTING Corp
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
Ph: (608) 231-1100
Fax: (608) 233-0011
Cell: (608) 345-0381
----- Original Message -----
From: "Pat Franklin" <email@example.com>
To: <SPENDELOW.Peter.H@deq.state.or.us>; "Peter Anderson"
Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2002 10:55 AM
Subject: Re: [GreenYes] Re: #3-7 plastics at curbside
Peter Spendelow makes a good case for "all plastic bottle" collection,
but I am sure that Peter Anderson (where are you Peter) could make
an equally strong case against the idea. His issue is the contamination
resulting from #3's (PVC) which look very much like #1's (PET). Peter A.
has the exact numbers but I know it takes a very small amount of
PVC to render a bale of PET bottles unusable by fiber manufacturers and
an even smaller amount for bottle-to-bottle manufacturers. I would think
that the contamination problem would be even greater in a bottle bill
state which would have much smaller amounts of PET in the mix.
Hopefully Peter A. will through his 2 cent into this discussion. He's the
expert on this issue.
At 11:35 PM 2/2/02 -0800, you wrote:
>To Tim and Melissa,
>First, I want to say that I fully agree with the policy that you outline
>regarding collecting materials that are not recycled. No collection
>should ever advertise that they collect a material for recycling, and then
>throw it away.
>However, based in part on Oregon data, I think there might be very
>legitimate reasons to support an "all-plastic bottle" collection program.
>The vast majority of material collected in an all-bottle program should be
>recyclable. PET (#1) and HDPE (#2) should all be recyclable, except
>some odd-colored PET or PET with certain barrier plastics. I'm sure Pete
>Anderson could add a lot about this subject.
>However, a fair amount of the other 3-7 plastic can be recycled with #2
>- at least in small quantities. Polypropylene - #5 - and low density
>polyethylene - #4, both are usually acceptable in small quantities in HDPE
>bottle loads. The reason is that all three of these are polyolefins, and
>are fairly compatible.
>Also, a fair amount of #7 plastic is also recyclable with #2 high-density
>polyethylene. Much #7 plastic is polyethylene or polypropylene with
>layers, but the barrier layers do not interfere much with certain recycling
>This leaves #3 PVC and #6 Polystyrene as being the main problems, along
>some #7 (all other plastic) and maybe some #1. However, these materials
>pretty uncommon in plastic bottles. The Oregon Department of Environmental
>Quality conducts a regular waste composition study every two years, and
>specifically looks at the quantity of different plastic bottle and tub
>resins being disposed. Here are results of the 1998 study for disposal of
>plastic bottles by resin in Oregon:
>#1 PET - 33.05%
>#2 HDPE - 59.47%
>#3 PVC - 2.86%
>#4 LDPE - 0.34%
>#5 PP - 0.89%
>#6 PS - 0.03%
>#7 Other - 2.78%
>unidentified - 0.63%
>Thus, the problem resins make up only about 5% of the total plastic bottles
>being disposed in Oregon, and much less than that if you look at the total
>plastic bottles generated. Oregon is a bottle bill state, and so our
>recovery for plastic soft drink bottles (#1 PET) is very high - over 80%.
>Other PET bottles and such as water bottles and almost all HDPE bottles are
>not covered under Oregon's law though, but still many are collected through
>the Oregon curbside programs. Most Oregon programs are "all bottle"
>collection programs, but #2s and #1s still predominate.
>APC has argued that when you change from a specific resin bottle collection
>program to an "all bottle" collection program, you get a general increase
>all resins of bottles collected - not just an increase in the 3-7s. I
>the research they and others have done pretty much backs them up on this,
>that a 1-7 collection program results in more recycling of the 1s and the
>as well as some recycling of the 4s, 5s, and some 7s.
>How does this square with the issue of saying you are collecting something,
>and then throwing it away? It is still troublesome to collect 3s and 6s
>then dispose of them.
>However, if you object to any disposal, then what is your reaction to
>commingled collection systems that mix glass bottles with other materials.
>Our experience is that the recovery of glass varies widely in these
>programs, and that often more than 20% of the glass put out curbside may
>up being disposed. By comparison, losing 5% of the plastic bottles to
>disposal looks small.
>Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
>From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
>Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2002 8:30 PM
>Subject: [Greenyes Digest] V2 #174
>[Greenyes Digest] Saturday, February 2 2002 Volume 02 : Number
>[GreenYes] Re: #3-7 plastics at curbside
>Re: [GreenYes] Re: #3-7 plastics at curbside
>Date: Sat, 02 Feb 2002 08:49:41 -0800
>From: Pat Franklin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: [GreenYes] Re: #3-7 plastics at curbside
>I'm sure that Peter Anderson will reply to this email. I believe he
>did a report for the CA DOC on this very issue of "all plastic bottle
>Peter, if and when you do reply can you tell us if that report
>is available on line?????
>At 11:21 PM 2/1/02 -0500, Brenda Platt wrote:
> >Does anyone know of recycling operators opposed to APC's plan to
> >encourage collection of #3-7 plastics at curbside? Please respond
> >directly to Tim, as he's not on the listserve. You can cc the listserve
> >and me too.
> >Brenda Platt
> >Institute for Local Self-Reliance
> > >> Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 14:02:39 -0800
> > >> From: Tim Krupnik <email@example.com>
> > >>
> > >> Hello,
> > >>
> > > > My name is Tim and I work for the Berkeley Ecology Center
> > >recycling and education program. I am currently working to write a
> > >resolution for the city and state to adopt combatting the American
> > >Plastics Council's motion to collect #3-7 plastics at the curbside.
> > >The general feeling here is that to present the 3-7 collections is
> > >to promote them as "recyclable," which they won't be. This is, in
> > >our view, propaganda that mis-leads the public and makes recycling
> > >appear to be less environmentally concerned.
> > > >
> > >> I was informed that you might know of other municipal recycling
> > >>operations that are opposing their motion (I need to provide
> > >>evidence that this is not just a "Berkeley Thing," and that there
> > >>are reliable, concerned people in the industry opposed to the APC's
> > >>stance.
> > >>
> > >> Might you have any information, articles, etc?
> > > >
> > > > Please let me know. Thank You,
> > > > Tim krupnik
> > > > Plastics Task Force.
>Date: Sat, 2 Feb 2002 15:33:33 -0800 (PST)
>From: melissa terry <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: Re: [GreenYes] Re: #3-7 plastics at curbside
>the city of fayetteville (northwest arkansas) also
>opposes the "all bottles" collection campaign for the
>same reasons...before someone promises to weave gold
>from straw, you need to make sure they have some
>the plastics industry is responsible for their #3-7's,
>not the community.
>just my two cents...
>sustainable environment educator
>city of fayetteville
>- --- Pat Franklin <email@example.com>
> > I'm sure that Peter Anderson will reply to this
> > email. I believe he
> > did a report for the CA DOC on this very issue of
> > "all plastic bottle
> > collection".
> > Peter, if and when you do reply can you tell us if
> > that report
> > is available on line?????
> > ===============================================
> > At 11:21 PM 2/1/02 -0500, Brenda Platt wrote:
> > >Does anyone know of recycling operators opposed to
> > APC's plan to
> > >encourage collection of #3-7 plastics at curbside?
> > Please respond
> > >directly to Tim, as he's not on the listserve. You
> > can cc the listserve
> > >and me too.
> > >Thanks,
> > >Brenda Platt
> > >Institute for Local Self-Reliance
> > >
> > > >> Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 14:02:39 -0800
> > > >> From: Tim Krupnik <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > > >>
> > > >> Hello,
> > > >>
> > > > > My name is Tim and I work for the Berkeley
> > Ecology Center
> > > >recycling and education program. I am currently
> > working to write a
> > > >resolution for the city and state to adopt
> > combatting the American
> > > >Plastics Council's motion to collect #3-7
> > plastics at the curbside.
> > > >The general feeling here is that to present the
> > 3-7 collections is
> > > >to promote them as "recyclable," which they won't
> > be. This is, in
> > > >our view, propaganda that mis-leads the public
> > and makes recycling
> > > >appear to be less environmentally concerned.
> > > > >
> > > >> I was informed that you might know of other
> > municipal recycling
> > > >>operations that are opposing their motion (I
> > need to provide
> > > >>evidence that this is not just a "Berkeley
> > Thing," and that there
> > > >>are reliable, concerned people in the industry
> > opposed to the APC's
> > > >>stance.
> > > >>
> > > >> Might you have any information, articles, etc?
> > > > >
> > > > > Please let me know. Thank You,
> > > > > Tim krupnik
> > > > > Plastics Task Force.
> > ******************************************
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