Report details how US cities can benefit from China’s recycling regulations

The National League of Cities (NLC), Washington, has released a report titled “Rethinking Recycling: How Cities Can Adapt to Evolving Markets,” analyzing how city leaders can develop resilient local waste management systems in response to China’s new regulations. The report marks the start of a larger effort to examine sustainability in solid waste management and is the first piece of literature to highlight how municipalities can benefit from China’s upcoming ban.

“In the face of adversity, city leaders have historically been our nation’s problem-solvers,” says NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony. “China’s new policy is a wake-up call that we need to think more critically about waste management, and cities now have the opportunity to strengthen domestic markets and chart a sustainable path forward.”

Many Americans recognize the importance of recycling to fight climate change, reduce pollution and limit municipal landfill costs. The recycling industry also accounts for 757,000 jobs, $36.6 billion in wages and $6.7 billion in tax revenues, according to the report.

In addition, oceanic plastic contamination has come to the fore as a major international crisis. Inefficient waste management practices have led to 8 million metric tons of plastic being dumped in oceans annually.

Durango and Fort Collins, Colorado, and Washington are cities using partnerships and educational campaigns to increase recycling rates and maintain local control over waste management systems, the report notes.

The report recommends city leaders conduct an economic analysis of current management operations, work with contractors, ensure fees and rates reflect current costs, evaluate local policies and economic incentives, explore local and unconventional markets, consider streams, examine asset ownership and consider infrastructure investments. 

RAA launches recycling education campaign

In response to what it calls the U.S. recycling crisis, 501(c)(3) nonprofit Recycle Across America (RAA), Minneapolis, has launched the celebrity-led “Let’s recycle right!” campaign. The nonprofit claims “Let’s recycle right!” is the largest recycling education campaign in U.S. history.

Many of the TV, billboard, print and social media ads feature tips for proper recycling and introduce RAA’s standardized labeling solution for recycling bins, which the group says makes it possible for people everywhere to recycle right. The campaign features influencers and celebrities who have donated their time, likenesses and influence to help resolve the recycling crisis, RAA says.

The ads include actress Kristen Bell, 2018 Olympic gold medal snowboarder Red Gerard, seven-time Grammy Award-winning musician Alanis Morissette, Emmy Award-winning comedian/commentator Bill Maher, Global Sustainability Executive for Whole Foods Market Kathy Loftus as well as CEOs, NFL players and political officials, including Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando, Florida, and Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee and Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie M. Gorbea.

Photographer Timothy White and award-winning filmmaker Candida Brady have donated their talents to the campaign as well.

“We are beyond grateful to have an ever-growing collective group of influencers, media companies, municipalities, political leaders, brand leaders and bin manufacturers unite around this critical education campaign and recycling solution at a time when it is most needed,” says RAA founder Mitch Hedlund. “Just as standardized road signs make it easy for people to drive safely, standardized labels on bins make it easy for people to recycle right.”

She continues, “This isn’t an awareness campaign; this is a ‘solutions’ campaign. Together we will solve the crisis.”

The ads are appearing on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC stations in 40 of the largest U.S. cities; on Lamar Advertising Co.’s digital billboards across the U.S.; in airports and other public spaces; and in national and regional magazines and newspapers.

© Anthony L. Lezzi | Lezzi Photography LLC;

J.P. Mascaro lands large recycling contract

J. P. Mascaro & Sons, with corporate headquarters in Audubon, Pennsylvania, has announced that its TotalRecycle facility in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, has been awarded a contract with Chester County, Pennsylvania. The company also handles recyclables from the Pennsylvania counties of Montgomery, Bucks and Lehigh.

The multiyear contract to process and market recyclables for the 52 municipalities in the county requires Mascaro’s TotalRecycle facility to provide a minimum of 26 million pounds of capacity annually to Chester County municipalities. In 2017, the MRF received more than 160 million pounds of recyclables.

Joseph Mascaro, the company’s director of sustainability and TotalRecycle general manager, says, “Mascaro and TotalRecycle are committed to remaining at the forefront of waste recycling and reuse, as evidenced by our TotalRecycle facility, and we will continue to strive to improve our facility systems and product quality control, as well as our end-use recyclables markets in both the United States and abroad.”