eco ramblings

a dialogue with an Eco Patriot

Archive for the ‘China’ Category

A Leading Example of Transparency in Sustainability

Posted by Luke on August 9, 2010

In my previous post, I talked about the role of transparency in sustainability.  One of the best examples of a company who does this is Patagonia.  Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles allows people track the environmental impact of their products (good or bad) from product design all the way to delivery.  It’s a pretty slick interface and I encourage you to check it out.  You can see exactly where your clothes are made and what the conditions are at each of the factories.

Have you asked other clothing companies what the footprints of their items are?  I bet they don’t know the answer like Patagonia.  Being transparent helps Patagonia continue to strive for improved environmental performance while also setting a standard in the industry.

My down jacket was designed in Ventura, CA of which I can watch a video of.  The down fibers come from Hungary and I can see pictures of the origin location and conditions.  The fibers are then cleaned and processed in California before being sent to China in combination with recycled polyester for the shell.  Pictures of the factory can be viewed to witness the working conditions.  The finished product is shipped to Patagonia’s distribution center in Reno, NV.  The total process emits 7 lbs of CO2, creates 5 oz of waste, and uses 9.4 kwh of energy.

Posted in brand loyalty, China, logistics, manufacturing, shipping, sustainability | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Highlights from the 2010 Plastics Recycling Conference

Posted by Luke on March 4, 2010

Here are some of the key take-aways from the conference held in Austin this past week:

  • The public’s lack of affection for plastic will likely continue to get worse if products can’t be recycled.  Recycling is the easiest thing consumers can do to feel like they are making a difference.  Municipalities, recyclers, and manufacturers need to make recycling easier for consumers.
  • Single-stream recycling has a slight impact on contamination rates, but single stream is essential for making recycling easy for consumers and for increasing the recycling rate.  Most MRFs are switching to single-stream.
  • Recyclers will need to find ways to recycle the current unrecyclable.  This could occur through the following: (1) better recycling technology, (2) investment in recycling, (3) government advocacy and legislation, (4) consumer education, and (5) a continued market demand for recycled materials.
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) will likely continue to grow; this will make packaging manufacturers more responsible for the end life of their products
  • Contamination and quality of reclaimed materials (i.e. bottles) is becoming a bigger and bigger problem.  Recyclers are paying more money for lower quality reclaimed materials.  That makes it harder for them to sell recycled resins at competitive prices.
  • There is a growing problem of manufacturers mislabeling plastic products as #1 when they actually aren’t.  Since I’m actively involved in the compostable products industry, this was interesting for me to learn about considering the composting industry struggles with mislabeled products as well.
  • Recycling non-bottle rigid plastic containers is an issue we MUST overcome.  The issue isn’t that there isn’t a demand for those materials after they are reclaimed.  In general, manufacturers want to use recycled resins and there is pent up demand for them.  The issue is getting non-bottle rigid plastics through the reclaimation system.  This can be done through the ways listed in bullet #3 above.
  • Since China buys so much of our reclaimed materials, and the quality they demand is lower than what US recyclers demand, there isn’t as much incentive for US-based collectors to maintain high-quality standards because they can easily ship the stuff overseas.  Overall, this impacts the entire recycling value chain and market.
  • Change is looming for the #1-7 recycling codes.  The ASTM is working on it, but they also have to get all of the states to adopt the new codes (when finalized) into their statutes.  This will hopefully help with the #7 “Other” issue as well as classifying bioplastics properly.

Posted in China, event, Landiflls, recycled products, recycling, RPET | Leave a Comment »

Why didn’t I think of that?

Posted by Luke on February 8, 2010

If you ship products across the ocean by cargo ship, you’re going to say to yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” when you read this article

A dutch company called Cargoshell invented a collapsible shipping container.  It takes one person only 30 seconds to break it down and it occupies 1/4 of the space of a normal steel container.  It’s also much lighter which means if you’re inland you can stack several of these on top of one another and truck them back to the port in a much more fuel efficient manner.  Their composite material provides better insulation in hot temperatures, and they are equipped with floatable bags on the side if a ship ever capsizes – they will float instead of sinking your cargo to the bottom of the ocean.  If that isn’t enough bells and whistles, they come with GPS.

Posted in China, GHG, logistics, shipping | Leave a Comment »

Recycling and the Economy

Posted by Luke on February 5, 2010

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers held a webinar yesterday titled “Understanding the recycling industry’s current and potential role in supporting manufacturing.” 

Although waste diversion will continue to be important, the management and reproduction of diverted materials is becoming a bigger and bigger issue.  Between the 1980’s and 1990s, the number of curbside recycling programs grew from 500 to over 9000.  At the time, the U.S. manufacturing base was not setup to process all of the recycled materials and turn them into usable products.  As a result, China ended up saving our recycling programs because they bought a majority of the recycled materials.  Without China, it’s possible that our country’s recycling programs would not be where they are today. 

China is still a big purchaser of recycled materials – over 50% of all recycled PET bottles are shipped across the Pacific.  If we want to truly have a viable recycling economy, we need to drive U.S. manufacturers and legislators to focus on producing finished goods using post-consumer recycled materials. 

You can download the full webinar presentation slides here.

Posted in China, event, Landiflls, manufacturing, recycled products, RPET | Leave a Comment »

 
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