On Nov. 7, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries’ (ISRI) MRF (material recovery facility) Council heard presentations from Keurig Green Mountain, the Foodservice Packaging Institute (FPI) and the Hefty EnergyBag Program. These three organizations gathered to argue in favor of having their packaging types accepted at MRFs.
The three types of packaging were: K-Cups, takeout food and drink packaging, and rarely recycled plastics (multilayer films, expanded polystyrene, utensils, etc.) collected in separate bags for energy recovery. For some time, these three organizations have been pushing for the acceptance of their materials in residential recycling programs. Their appearance was largely driven by ISRI’s paper industry representatives, who worry that the addition of new packaging types could contaminate fiber bales.
This concern may be driven by the lack of or inefficient design for disassembly of the three packaging types. Designing for disassembly is a process where manufacturers design devices for the least environmental impact upon disposal. It not only appeals to environmentally-conscious consumers, but also prepares devices for safe and smart disposal.
However, six nonprofit recycling groups rallied to push against this decision: Community Conservation Centers of Berkeley, Calif.; Eco-Cycle of Boulder, Colo.; Recycle Ann Arbor of Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Tri-CED Community Recycling of Union City, Calif. In a letter written to ISRI, these groups detailed their objections.
“While we are excited by opportunities to increase recycling, we believe that given the current importance of material quality and potential issues of contamination these materials bring, the lack of clarity on market acceptance and demand for these items, relatively small diversion potentials and the potential to confuse residents through conflicting educational messages, now is not the time to add these materials at MRFs.”
ISRI develops and maintains specifications that ease the trade of recyclables leaving MRFS, however in this case, no specifications have yet to be proposed for the three types of packaging being debated.
As an R2, RIOS, and ISO 14001 certified business, HOBI International Inc. is committed to educating industry professionals wishing to learn more about the importance for design for disassembly. For more information on our design for disassembly course, workshop and consulting, visit our Environmental Services webpage.