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NRC News and Events

May 29, 2020

Working on the Front Lines with COVID-19: A New Normal, the Same Old Risk, and Keeping On

The waste and recycling industry works under the threat of contagious disease every day. The exposures they face tend to go unnoticed by the general public, but they are real. Tetanus and Hepatitis vaccinations have been required for decades. We all know there is no vaccination for Coronavirus but that doesn’t mean we cease providing refuse, recycling and landscape collection services.

When lab studies showed the virus could live up to 72 hours on some surfaces, concern for the safety of workers became even more heightened. Recently rumors made it seem that exposure to sunlight could kill the virus quickly, or being outdoors, summer temperatures, the list goes on. The World Health Organization states much of this is not true. However knowledge about the true risk, behavior and spread of COVID-19 is growing. For example, 72 hours is really the maximum time that a virus lives on plastic, but not the likely time. It is likely to die much sooner. Further, the virus must be of a significant quantity on that surface in order to be contracted, known as the viral load, and it must be inserted into the airway or eyes directly from a surface, which can be prevented with good hygiene. Point being, though not impossible, the research shows that it is actually quite hard to catch COVID-19 from a surface. There is a far greater risk of passage from person to person in close proximity to each other, when we share air with each other that contains droplets of COVID-19.* Everyone involved in the collection and processing of materials must make safety a priority. Risk levels aside, the more barriers between you and exposure to COVID-19 whether in the air or on a surface, the better.

The good news is that many front line workers already wear PPE. Many are already trained to wash their hands, take proper care with gloves and use masks to perform their jobs. Materials that are recycled get washed and UV lights do kill the virus, that lives only hours on fiber items.

March and April proved to demonstrate how quickly collection and processing crews could adapt with few cases of COVID-19 reported (at least none publicly attributed to collection and processing refuse, recyclables or landscape services directly). As May began, most haulers were reporting plans to return to normal service levels, including bulk item collection service. Moving forward, as testing becomes more widespread and different states take relaxing shelter-in-place orders at various levels, fear of a second wave of increased illness remains. Masked faces may become the winning fashion trend of 2020. However you feel, it is important to know that vital services, such as recycling and composting can continue.

*Sitation: MRF & Collection Safety During COVID-19

NRC Recycling Markets Outlook Forum Recap

On April 30, 2020, the Recycling Markets Outlook Forum, a NRC Special Edition Webinar, hosted in conjunction with EPA, RRS/Renew discussed recent developments and how they impact recycling markets. There were 1,253 registered with 888 in attendance, and the webinar was held on a Zoom platform for interactive polling as well as featured panelists from IHS Markit, More Recycling, ISRI, Moore and Associates, and Glass Packaging Institute. The Recycling Market Development Platform at was highlighted as a new tool for business, government, and consumers to use to make recycled content purchases.

Speakers included:
Marty Seaman, RRS
Ron Vance, EPA
Tison Keel and Joel Morales Jr., IHS Markit
Nina Butler, MORE Recycling
Bill Moore, Moore & Associates
Scott DeFife, Glass Packaging Institute
Joe Pickard, ISRI

The NRC would like to thank all of the partners involved for making this a highly successful event and thank you all for attending. The recording is available by clicking here.

Listen to the recording of the Forum

Upcyclers Network Hosts Webinar Series

The Upcyclers Network is hosting a series of webinars entitled Recovered Materials Market Development-Trends, Resources, Actions: During and Post Corona Rapid Debrief Series. The first took place on May 13, 2020 titled Resources for Recovered Materials Manufacturers: Overview of California and National Landscape featuring Manuel Medrano, President of the CA Recycling Market Development Zone and Environmental Services Manager for the City of Chula Vista discussing California and Federal programs including Cal Recycle, SWANA, Cal Economic Development, SBA, and Stafford Loan resources available to manufacturers and recyclers. You can access the presentation here Scroll down to the PAST WEBINARS section, and next to this webinar, you will find the download button for the presentation and additional resources.

The next webinar is June 2nd, covering the recycled materials supply chain and hearing feedback from the manufacturer's point of view. You can sign up top participate in upcoming webinars on this and other topics using the above link.

Feel free to reach out directly with any questions to [email protected]

Click here to visit Upcyclers Network

EPA Launches SMM Prioritization Tools

Last week, EPA launched the Sustainable Materials Management Prioritization Tools. These life cycle-based tools offer a starting place for governments, trade associations, NGOs, companies, small enterprises, and other organizations to establish priorities for environmental improvement, focus their limited financial and human resources where action could offer greater holistic benefit, and consider key industries for collaboration.

The SMM Prioritization Tools generate dynamic charts that present over 10 million data points from a fully transparent, open and freely available life cycle model created by EPA. These charts provide insights across more than 20 environmental, social and economic indicators for over 390 categories of goods and services in the United States. They can be a great starting point when developing sustainability initiatives. All data used by the Tools are publicly available.

Learn more about the tools and check them out

Aluminum Cups For the Win!

Potentially the answer we have all been seeking for guilt-free beverage consumption at sporting events and backyard BBQ's, Broomfield, Colorado-based Ball Corporation says it has named Acosta, a sales and marketing agency focused on the consumer packaged goods industry, to exclusively represent Ball Corp. aluminum cups in the United States in retail and on-premise outlets, including grocery, convenience and drug stores and in food service and some other channels.

Ball launched the U.S. pilot of its Ball Aluminum Cups—which Ball says are “infinitely recyclable”—in September 2019. The company says it has identified “an opportunity to create an innovative alternative to plastic cups,” and says it aspires to emulate or surpass the 69 percent global recycling rate of the aluminum beverage can. Cheers!

Read the full article at Recycling Today
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