7 of the Best Tips to Help You Take Charge of Your E-Waste

Over the last several decades, electronics have become a cornerstone of modern living. With such widespread use of computers, mobile phones, televisions, and other devices, the waste management and recycling industries have had to handle an influx of e-waste. Though electronics provide many benefits to consumers, these products can be dangerous when sent to landfills because they are rife with toxic components such as lead and mercury.

As we all build up our collections of electronics, it is crucial that we look towards the end of each product’s life. We must make every effort to organize and dispose of our e-waste in ways that will be beneficial to all. There are a number of things that you can do to manage your e-waste, including the following:

  1. Find a recycling program that fits your needs

electronic wasteCorporate and community recycling programs alike can assist you when you are looking to recycle various types of e-waste. You should start by familiarizing yourself with the options that are available locally. Many municipalities operate recycling facilities or other drop-off sites that focus solely on e-waste. Before taking your electronics to these locations, however, you should match them to your town’s online list of reputable e-waste disposal programs to ensure that your electronics go to the right place.

Otherwise, you should consider participating in one of the many trade-in programs that prominent electronics companies run. For example, with cell phones, you can participate in programs through providers such as T-Mobile, which will accept your used device once you upgrade to a new one and compensate you for your trade-in.

If you are looking to safely dispose of other electronics, then you should look into recycling initiatives at some of the most prominent tech giants. Sony, for example, operates a Takeback Program that accepts used televisions and batteries at numerous drop-off locations. Others, like Best Buy, will gladly recycle products from any electronics retailer.

  1. Consider donating

Though you may no longer have any need for your e-waste, there are countless individuals throughout the community that can benefit from it. As such, you should consider donating your old devices instead of sending them to the landfill. There are a number of non-profits that will reuse your electronics. One such organization, InterConnection, repairs donated computers and gives them to those in need. The non-profit also regularly presents refurbished electronics to schools that use them to establish computer labs for students.

Computer retailer Dell also runs an initiative that allows you to responsibly dispose of your used computers. Called Dell Reconnect, this program encourages participants to bring their devices to any affiliate Goodwill location in the United States. The organization will either recycle these goods or repair them for reuse.

  1. Upgrade before recycling

In some cases, your electronics may only need a few updates to feel like new. Before you decide between recycling or throwing them away, you should determine whether you could instead swap out any of their internal components. By updating your computer with more RAM, you can easily prolong its life. To this end, you should also look into enhancing your desktop devices with new graphics cards or storage capacity.

  1. Don’t buy new

Though it is always exciting to buy the newest electronics, you should always think twice before disposing of your e-waste and bringing home a more recent model from the store. Instead, you should consider “precycling,” a waste management term that refers to the practice of avoiding products that will create unnecessary waste at the end of their lives.

When you are considering making a new electronics purchase, you should therefore determine whether you truly need the product or not. If you do, then you should do your research to find one that will last the longest amount of time. Otherwise, you should refrain from chasing the newest versions of your favorite devices. Instead, use your electronics for as long as you can before investing in new ones.

  1. Sell old electronics

old electronicsAnother way to make sure that your e-waste finds new life is to sell it. Whether you are looking to get rid of old electronics at home or at the office, you can easily find a new home for them by putting them up for sale on websites such as eBay and Craigslist.

These marketplaces allow you to set the price of your gadgets, thereby affording you the opportunity to make more money than you would by simply trading them in. By selling your e-waste, you will also be providing electronics to those who need them more than you do.

  1. Conduct regular e-waste audits

In order to stay on top of the e-waste that you produce, you must regularly organize the devices that you and your family use. By completing regular electronics audits, you will be able to glean which items you already have so that you do not make the mistake of buying more than one of the same thing. If you find pieces of e-waste during your review, then you should set aside a day for recycling. Better yet, make it a bi-annual practice to organize and dispose of your e-waste.

  1. Erase your data

Whatever you decide to do with your old electronics, it is crucial that you remove any personal information that could fall into the wrong hands. You should start by backing up any potentially important data onto a separate hard drive or USB device. Then, you must begin the process of erasing information so that no one can recover it. With PCs, you will need special software to overwrite the data. For Apple users, this process only requires you to access the Disk Utility program.

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7 Things You Need to Do to Start an Office Recycling Program

There is no denying that offices generate a large amount of waste. Each day, employees use everything from drink containers to electronic equipment, all of which will ultimately end up in the waste stream. An even bigger offender is paper, which makes up the majority of all office waste.

However, the good news is that the vast majority of all office waste is recyclable. You and your team can easily take charge of your office waste by establishing a recycling program.

In order to make the most out of this initiative, however, you will need to do the following:

  1. Select your committee.

group meetingYour office recycling program won’t be able to make it off of the ground without the right team. However, before you can start picking people to be on your committee, you will need to enlist the help of the higher-ups. If you are a manager, then you should contact the building manager, your own boss, or even the company CEO to gauge their support for the program.

Once you have the green light, you should begin assembling your recycling team by choosing someone to be the leader. This person should have the ability to organize the entire program and work seamlessly with other team members. When selecting the remainder of the committee, you should make sure to include employees from different departments. These individuals will play a critical role in keeping their respective teams up to date with emerging program developments.

  1. Conduct research.

With your team in place, you will need to do research to determine what type of recycling program your office will require. You should start by conducting an audit of your company’s current waste management system. Doing so will allow you to carefully assess what types of waste you produce and how much of it you throw away. As part of this assessment, you will also need to conduct a review of your office trash cans. Knowing where they are located and how well employees are using them will help you create a recycling program that addresses any current shortcomings.

If your recycling committee needs assistance with the waste audit, then you should consider enlisting the help of outside entities. Though some municipalities offer free waste assessment services to nearby businesses, you may need to hire a recycling collector or special consultant.

  1. Pick a hauler.

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Unless you plan on transporting your office’s recyclables directly to your local facility, you will need to work with a local recycling company. Your first step should be to contact the complex in which your office is situated to see if any other tenants receive recycling services. If this is the case, you can easily arrange for collection at your own office. If not, then you will need to select a hauler that will serve only your workplace. Try contacting your existing waste management center to see if it offers recycling services. Otherwise, you should consider using a local commercial or independent hauler.

  1. Acquire the necessary equipment.

Your recycling program won’t be a success unless you obtain all the equipment that your office will need. As a result of completing your waste audit, you should have a good estimate of how many bins you will need to place around the workplace. While you can purchase pre-made recycling containers from local stores, you should first determine whether your recycling collector will provide you with receptacles.

Once you have your bins, you should make sure to place them in optimal locations. You should pair all trash cans with recycling bins, especially if they are in locations that employees frequently visit. To provide your workers with even easier access to a recycling bin, you should place one at every desk.

  1. Establish goals.

Before launching your office recycling program, you will need to formulate a plan that enables you to set attainable goals. Where you would like the office to be in terms of sustainability in six months or one year from now? Depending on your office’s unique goals, you might have to start off with a small program that includes only one or two recyclables and expand it over time.

  1. Get everyone involved.

group meeting

When it comes time to kick off your recycling program, you will need to make sure that everyone in the office is on board. You should help the program start off strong by hosting a launch event for the whole team. During this time, you can educate staff members about the program and how they can participate. You should also take this time to hand out reusable coffee mugs and recycling equipment to your team. To generate additional excitement about the program, you can host fun activities that inform your team about recycling and increase their enthusiasm about being involved.

  1. Monitor and congratulate success.

As your office recycling plan flourishes, it is important that you keep all staff members involved by informing everyone of its success. Whenever you hit one of your program’s goals, you should send out a memo to the entire company to inform people of your collective progress. You can even engage the local community by publishing press releases about your recycling achievements.

An even better way to continually promote your office recycling initiative is to recognize and congratulate the individuals who have helped make it a success. For example, you can honor those who make the largest contributions to the recycling program with a personalized letter from the CEO, a special recycling award, or a public announcement at an upcoming meeting.

What Happens to Materials During the Recycling Process?

If you recycle on a regular basis, then you understand the steps that you must take to get materials from your home to the recycling bin. But what happens to your glass, metals, and plastics once collectors take them away? Though you may never witness it, each material undergoes a unique process to ensure that it can once again re-enter the product stream as new items. Read on to take a closer look at five of the most common recyclables and what happens to them during the recycling process:

Plastic

plastic beverage cupUpon arrival at the recycling facility, workers wash plastics to remove any labeling or other possible contaminants. Next, the facility sorts each type of plastic into a separate category. For example, all PET plastics—such as water bottles—go into a group of their own. After isolating each plastic type, the facility breaks each material down into smaller pieces. To this end, they load the plastics into shredding machines that tear them into flakes or chips.

Next, the facility heats the pieces until they melt and then reshapes them into small pellets or fibers. The final step involves sending these recycled plastics to manufacturers who use them to create brand-new products, such as furniture, insulation, and carpeting.

Glass

glass containersAfter consumers place their glass recyclables for collection or bring them to recycling plants themselves, workers begin the process of organizing these materials by color. Some facilities may, however, skip this step by requiring local consumers to pre-sort their glass into groups of clear, brown, and green containers.

Recycling workers then wash all separated glass pieces to rid them of debris and run them through special machinery that compresses them into a material called cullet. After combining this substance with limestone, sand, and soda ash, workers place the entire mixture into a furnace for melting. Recycling plants can use the resulting material to create new containers or other glass products. The durability of glass makes it possible to repeat the recycling process an infinite number of times.

Metal

metalAll metals typically fall into one of two categories: ferrous (combinations of carbon and iron) and non-ferrous. The former group consists of materials such as iron, wrought iron, and steel. The latter contains aluminum, copper, and tin, as well as precious metals like silver and gold. Most recycling centers process non-ferrous metals, many of which originate in the homes of consumers. However, iron and steel top the list of the world’s most recycled materials. This is due to how easy it is to get these materials from demolished buildings and scrap yards. In fact, almost 40 percent of all crude steel production uses recycled steel products.

Once the metals arrive at the recycling facility, workers separate them by category using specialized magnets. After inspecting each item to determine its quality, they wash the metals using water or chemicals to rid them of their paint and any protective coatings. Facility workers then shred the metal items and feed the pieces into designated furnaces for melting. When these materials reach a liquid state, workers pour them into molds that will allow them to cool into an oblong-shaped block called an ingot. The recycling process ends when workers transform these ingots into large, malleable sheets of metal and send them to manufacturers for reuse.

Paper

paperWhen consumers place their paper recyclables into their curbside bins, collectors transport them to the local recycling facility, where workers sort them into different groups depending on their grade and type. The paper must then enter the “pulping” stage, during which time workers filter it through a mill. As it combines with water, the paper separates from any glue, ink, or other non-paper elements and transforms into a slurry-like material. Recycling workers then process this pulp several more times to fully prepare it for reuse. During this step, they can also add in various elements that will turn the pulp into different types of paper, like cardboard. They then use the paper slurry to create large sheets, which they let dry before rolling and shipping them off to their final destination.

E-waste

old phoneIn order to prevent old mobile phones, computers, and other electronics from ending up in landfills, recycling centers must send these items must undergo numerous recycling steps. This process begins when the facility sorts each electronic item and separates it from its battery components. Workers must then begin taking each electronic apart by hand, a step that involves retrieving the most important parts and classifying each one by type. In some cases, certain components, such as circuit boards and batteries, must go to special processing facilities.

After dismantling, facility workers must break down any item that people cannot easily re-use into pieces that are no larger than 2 inches. Recycling facilities require these e-waste pieces to go through another step of disassembly, which ensures the removal of all dust particles. After further separating of materials using magnets, water, or a combination of both, facilities then send the salvaged items off for reuse. Metal components such as tin and copper go to smelting facilities that safely recycle them.

7 Major Companies with the Most Innovative Recycling Programs

There is no doubt that recycling is a team effort. While individuals are taking extra steps to reduce, reuse, and recycle the products they use every day, businesses must do the same. A number of major international companies are already doing their part with recycling initiatives that allow them to both recycle their own products and keep other items out of the waste stream. From electronics giants to famous apparel brands, here are seven of the most notable companies with innovative recycling programs:

  1. Dell

Dell logoLooking to target the issue of e-waste, Dell has created a policy that enables its customers to dispose of their old electronics in a safe, environmentally friendly way. The company will accept and recycle any of its branded items. Those who have non-Dell electronics may also submit them for recycling, but only if they then purchase one of the company’s branded products. Consumers may drop off their items at affiliate Goodwill locations or mail them to the company with a free shipping label.

Dell’s unique e-waste recycling initiatives do not stop there, however. Through a partnership with the National Cristina Foundation, the company connects customers with charities and schools that could benefit from used electronics. Dell also operates a printer supplies recycling program that allows individuals to bring old printer cartridges to Dell Reconnect sites or Staples office supply stores for safe disposal.

  1. Method

Though known primarily for its line of cleaning products, Method has made a new name for itself in the realm of recycling. The company is looking to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean by working with groups who remove plastic from Hawaii’s shores and recycling these materials into eco-friendly bottles. In collaboration with Envision Plastics, Method has developed its innovative Ocean Plastic 2-in-1 Dish + Hand Soap bottle, which uses both ocean plastic and other post-consumer materials. These biodegradable bottles are the first of their kind to use ocean plastic as their main component.

  1. Crayola

crayola logoSince initiating the ColorCycle program, Crayola has worked to reuse old art supplies and teach children about the importance of recycling. Any K-12 school may take part in the initiative, which invites students to collect old Crayola markers and send them back to the company. Crayola provides prepaid, printable shipping labels, so schools can participate in the initiative for free. The company uses the returned markers to make a clean-burning fuel. Educators can also use Crayola’s specially designed lesson plans to teach their students about recycling and environmental sustainability.

  1. Nike

Nike is shrinking its environmental impact by transforming old sneakers into a new material called Nike Grind. Made of recycled polyester and other reused substances, this new, sustainable material is now used in nearly three-quarters of all Nike products. In addition, the company uses Nike Grind to create durable running tracks, tennis courts, and other surface coverings. Those looking to support Nike in their sustainability efforts may participate by donating their old, worn-out shoes through the company’s Reuse-A-Shoe program.

  1. Levi’s

Levi's LogoFamed retailer Levi’s is working with clothing collection firm I:CO to offer a one-of-a-kind recycling garment program. People who wish to dispose of their old clothing and footwear—whether Levi’s brand or not—may take their unwanted items to any of the company’s U.S. stores. In return for their donation, they receive a coupon that awards them 20 percent off their next Levi’s store purchase. I:CO then collects the used clothing and shoes and prepares them for recycling if they cannot be reused.

  1. Adidas

Another company that is tackling ocean plastic pollution is Adidas. The company has made a huge recycling impact thanks to a partnership with Parley for the Oceans, which recovers plastic from the sea. With the help of the organization, Adidas has developed a line of sustainable footwear called the Parley series. As of May 2017, the line includes three versions of the company’s UltraBoost shoe, which is made of reclaimed ocean plastic. By the end of the year, Adidas hopes to manufacture one million of these shoes. With each UltraBoost shoe requiring 11 bottles to make, this would help remove 11 million bottles from the ocean.

The Parley series is far from Adidas’ first sustainable venture. In the past, the company has created smaller, limited product lines made of recycled polyester. Adidas also previously used recovered ocean plastic in their soccer uniforms.

  1. Brita

In collaboration with Haws and TerraCycle, Brita has made it easier than ever for its customers to recycle their used water bottles and filters. Once they’ve collected five pounds of old Brita products, people can pack them in a box, print out a complimentary shipping label, and mail them to TerraCycle for safe recycling. The company recycles the Brita products into new plastic items, such as outdoor seating and watering cans. The materials in the Brita filters are converted into energy.

7 of the Most Sustainable Alternatives to Plastic

Plastics are all around us, inside nearly every product that we come into contact with in our daily lives. Manufacturers favor this material because it can last for years and is easy to mold into practically any form. Despite these benefits, however, plastic can also harm the environment. Not only is it created from fossil fuels, but it is also difficult to recycle much of the time. As a result, researchers have begun to develop sustainable alternatives that will reduce our dependence on traditional plastic. Read on to learn more about seven of the best plastic substitutes.

  1. Liquid wood

A unique type of biopolymer (also known as bioplastic), liquid wood offers both the appearance and function of traditional plastic, but without the harmful environmental effects. The base of this material is lignin, a byproduct that comes from paper mills. To create liquid wood, manufacturers take lignin and combine it with water before placing it in an environment with extreme heat and pressure. This transforms the lignin into a composite substance that is flexible enough for the manufacturer to form into any shape, but also highly durable. Already, scientists from Germany have used liquid wood to create children’s toys and containers for speakers.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of liquid wood, however, is that it is completely biodegradable. It is also easy to recycle, since it is made from wood byproducts. As such, liquid wood is quickly becoming the go-to alternative for many traditional petroleum-based plastics.

  1. Silicone

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Image by Didriks | Flickr

Some companies are also using silicone in lieu of plastic when looking to create more eco-friendly products. Much like rubber, silicone shares many of the same characteristics of plastic, including its pliability and capability to resist both heat and water. However, it boasts a durability that is far greater than plastic, which makes it excellent for numerous applications, particularly in the healthcare field and in manufacturing.

Silicone can also make an excellent alternative for household plastics such as plastic wrap. One company, Lekue, uses silicone to create a range of sustainable food storage lids. These products maintain their flexibility across multiple uses and do not absorb food odors. Silicone can substitute for numerous other plastic-based products, including baby bottle nipples and insulation.

  1. Glass

In the past, most people used glass containers to hold their drinks and food products. Though the world has moved on in favor of plastic, glass remains the more sustainable alternative. As opposed to plastic, glass is made from sand, which makes it free of potentially harmful chemicals. Moreover, glass can undergo the process of recycling an infinite number of times. This makes it easy for manufacturers to turn old glass into new bottles and other products. In addition, people can easily reuse glass bottles and containers for any number of purposes. Glass products may cost more than their plastic counterparts, but they last longer and have a smaller environmental footprint.

  1. Starch-based plants

Over the years, starchy plants have become another popular source for sustainable plastics. The most commonly used material is corn, which manufacturers can process into a polyester called polylactic acid (PLA). As its name suggests, this material is made from the lactic acid produced when corn undergoes wet milling. Using PLAs, manufacturers can create virtually any product or packaging that would normally be made of plastic. These polymers are particularly beneficial because of their ability to fully biodegrade within a span of 47 days under industrial composting conditions. They also do not let off toxic fumes when they burn.

Corn is not the only starch-based plant that can create effective plastic substitutes. Over the years, researchers have developed polymers out of sugarcane, beets, and potatoes.

  1. Milk protein

Taking a cue from the starch-based plastic alternatives, a team of researchers from the US Department of Agriculture has developed a method for creating a unique film out of milk proteins. In particular, they are focusing on the protein casein, which is found in abundance in milk. Though casein-based plastics have existed for more than 100 years, these materials have been far too fragile to serve as more than a substitute for rare jewelry components such as ivory.

milk

By adding citrus pectin and glycerol to casein, however, the USDA researchers have been able to develop a sturdy, but fully biodegradable plastic alternative. Moreover, this material is edible, which means that packaging made from it could be entirely removed from the waste stream.

  1. Chicken feathers

Chicken feathers may seem like an unlikely plastic substitute, but US researchers have developed a means of transforming them into fully biodegradable plastics. In order to reduce billions of pounds of chicken feathers going to landfills each year, the research team sought to amplify the durability of the keratin in the feathers. When combined with methyl acrylate, keratin transformed into a plastic-like substance that was virtually tear-proof. Fully biodegradable and taken from a renewable source, chicken feather plastics are one of the most eco-friendly plastic substitutes.

  1. Biodegradable plastics

There are also a number of biodegradable plastics available that are helping to reduce the world’s dependence on traditional plastics. One such product is made by Tipa Corp, which took inspiration from the orange peel in their quest to create sustainable packaging. Looking to create a packaging solution that mirrored the biodegradability and protective nature of the orange skin, the company used a unique blend of polymers and other bio-materials to make a flexible, compostable plastic substitute.

What You Need to Know about Composting

In recent years, composting has become an increasingly popular method of diverting organic materials from landfills and recycling them into nutrients for gardens. If you are looking to start composting at your home, then you will need to understand how it works, how to start, and how to successfully maintain your pile. You can compost with ease by adhering to the following tips:

Know where and how to start.

In order to make the most out of your compost pile, you will need to know how to start one and where to put it. The optimal location for a compost pile is outside on the ground, preferably in a flat spot that contains ample drainage. This will enable organisms such as worms to enter the pile and begin breaking down the materials contained within them.

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Once you select a location, you will need to determine how you will begin building your compost pile. To expedite the process of biodegradation, you should aim for a pile that is 3 feet in depth, height, and width. You can build your own basic compost container out of materials such as wood pallets, trash receptacles, and cinderblocks. Otherwise, you should consider purchasing one of the numerous styles of ready-made bins available on the market. They are typically available in one of two styles: stationary and tumbler. Simply do some research to see which type of bin will best suit your composting needs.

Add the right materials.

Once you have a compost bin set up, you will need to begin filling it. As such, you must understand the various do’s and don’ts of what to add to your compost pile. You can put all manner of kitchen scraps and yard trimmings into your pile. “Greens” such as peels from produce, plant trimmings, and tea bags all make great additions to a compost bin because they degrade quickly and add a good amount of nitrogen to the pile. You will also need to add carbon-filled “browns” to your compost pile. This category includes everything from eggshells and animal fur to dried leaves and paper. You can also add waste from farmyard animals to your compost pile to incorporate even more nutrients.

When building your compost pile, you should also remain mindful of those items and materials that you should never add. You should keep anything from the meat and dairy categories out of the compost bin and put it in the trash can. Although you can incorporate some plants and trimmings, you should not add any type of weeds to your pile. Moreover, you should never add pet waste, as this can invite pests into your compost bin.

Shred what you plan to compost.

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It’s not enough to simply pack all of your compost into a large pile. In order to help the materials break down more quickly, you will need to make sure that your bin has proper aeration. To this end, you will need to shred or cut most of the materials that you plan to compost. This is a particularly important step to take when you are adding brown materials such as paper, cardboard, and leaves to your pile. These items are inherently more difficult to break down, so cutting them into smaller pieces will hasten the composting process. When in doubt, remember that smaller is better. Make sure that all items are 2 inches or shorter before putting them into your compost pile.

Maintain the right balance.

When looking to create the best-quality compost, you will need to create a perfect balance of green and brown materials. If you add too much of one type of material, then your entire pile may fail to degrade. In order to provide the best environment for composting, you should create an almost equal ratio of materials throughout the pile.

When you initially build your pile, you should add greens and browns in thin layers to ensure a proper balance. As your compost pile continues to grow, you should incorporate these two types of material together. This will help maintain the balance of moisture and allow for more airflow.

Monitor the moisture.

Moisture plays a large role in the decomposition of your compost. As such, you will need to closely monitor the consistency of your mixture to determine whether it is too wet or too dry. A proper balance of green and brown materials will help your compost remain moist, but you may also need to add water to it on a regular basis. In general, you should aim for a moisture composition of between 50 and 60 percent.

Turn it frequently.

As your compost breaks down, you will need to regularly turn it to keep it aerated, moist, and well mixed. Some use a compost tumbler to make this process easier, but you can also use garden tools such as shovels or pitchforks. You should turn your compost every one to two weeks. However, you can better judge when it is the right time to turn your compost by monitoring its internal temperature. As the microorganisms within work to decompose the materials, the compost will reach temperatures of between 140 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit. At this time, you should turn the materials to help the entire pile decompose more quickly

5 of the Most Important Recycling Trends to Watch Right Now

Since the advent of recycling, we have continually looked for innovative ways to improve how we reduce, reuse, and recycle our used goods. This search has given rise to a number of exciting trends that will dramatically impact the recycling and waste management industry in the years to come. Read on to explore five of the emerging trends that you should be watching right now:

  1. Emphasis on composting

compost-419261_1280Composting will become an increasingly popular means of recycling biodegradable goods. Though many people already use this method to break down their food waste, this trend is only just beginning to take off. Municipalities across the globe have begun to add community-wide composting programs that encourage residents to divert their food items from landfills. For example, Sunnyvale, California, has tested two separate composting initiatives that use a split-cart system to encourage locals to recycle their food scraps. By encouraging households to separate food items from other trash, the city has made it easier to recover scraps and reuse them as animal feed.

Programs like this will only become more popular as communities continue to encourage both individuals and food service businesses to use it in daily life. In some locations, composting is even on its way to becoming a mandatory practice.

  1. The plastics ban

One of the most significant recycling trends in recent years has been the ban on non-recyclable plastics. Numerous communities across the globe have adopted these restrictions to minimize the presence of plastics that require millennia to degrade, causing harm to the environment in the process. In the past, US states such as Hawaii and California have taken steps to prohibit the use of plastic grocery bags, a trend that other governments will likely follow in the future.

Styrofoam is another major target of the plastics ban. Sometimes known as expanded polystyrene foam, this type of plastic is composed of manufactured chemicals and other non-renewable materials. Not only does this make Styrofoam non-recyclable, but it also eliminates its ability to biodegrade like other materials. Major cities such as New York City have spearheaded the effort to eliminate Styrofoam containers and reduce pollution in the waste stream. As more municipalities recognize the harmful effects that this material can have on the environment, we will see the number of similar bans continue to rise.

  1. Adoption of 3D printing

3d printerAn increasingly popular manufacturing option, 3D printing is capable of creating everything from small, detailed items to large-scale industrial components. As useful as this technology may be, it is not sustainable in its current form. In order to produce most 3D printed creations, individuals must typically input plastic-based materials. As a result, this phenomenon has caused the demand for plastic to increase.

However, the future of 3D printing will shift away from this dependence on new plastics in favor of recycled materials. People can already use any type of household plastic in their 3D-printed creations, thereby reducing the waste that they produce. The possibilities do not stop with plastic, however. In the future, 3D printing could enable us to use recycled materials in the production of everything from buildings to automobiles. This sustainable trend will be one in which both individuals and corporations can participate.

  1. Increased concerns about e-waste

Electronics have become an integral part of life. Despite the importance of smartphones, computers, and other consumer devices, this increased use of electronics has caused great concern for entities in the waste management sector. Every device will, ultimately, become electronic waste, or e-waste. The toxic composition of these products makes them notoriously difficult to recycle through traditional means. As a result, most of them end up in electronic landfills.

As we continue to use more electronic devices, the amount of this e-waste will only increase. This has posed a unique challenge for the recycling industry, which will need to search for solutions in the coming years. Already, e-waste is finding more sustainable uses thanks to the work of individuals like West African inventor Kodjo Afate Gnikou, who used scrap electronics to create a functioning 3D printer. Similar recycling innovations will be essential to diminishing the world’s volume of e-waste.

  1. Implementation of technology

Technology is becoming an increasingly important asset in industries ranging from health care to commerce. Though the waste management sector has been behind this trend for many years, soon we will see these companies integrate the technology into more and more recycling practices.

For instance, in order to increase their productivity and sustainability, recycling facilities will adopt the use of revolutionary technologies such as anaerobic digestion, which has already been adopted by some facilities across the United States and Europe. Using anaerobic digestion devices, recyclers can turn up to 100 tons of organic waste into usable bioenergy on a daily basis.

Robotics is another innovative technology that is set to change the face of the recycling industry. In the years to come, the sector will see increased use of robots capable of sorting and breaking up recyclables more accurately than current practices allow. In fact, such technologies have already begun to appear. In 2016 tech giant Apple introduced Liam, a groundbreaking machine that can fully dismantle an iPhone in only 11 seconds. This has set a precedent for future robotic technologies that will become integral parts of the entire recycling process.