Posts filed under ‘paper’

More recycling

recycling

A couple of days ago, Emily was worrying about whether the fact that her municipality collects all the recyclables in one bag means they are just landfilling them. As it turns out, that is quite a current and relevant question. The answer is, no, fortunately, they are indeed recycling it.

Just yesterday, Treehugger had a great post about a new recycling technology that optically separates materials like different types of plastic and paper. That means that they now can sort the recyclables automatically, where traditionally people were required.

I highly recommend reading the original article in the Economist. It is quite informative, for those of you who are still curious about recycling ‘magic’.

Anyway, the point is, with the new automated sorting, many recycling programs are switching from several recycling bins to a single bin. The main advantage of the switch is that the recycling rate tends to be much higher with a single bin. As an example, San Francisco, who switched to single bin a few years ago, now has a recycling rate of 69%. I don’t know if you realize, but 69% is huge! By comparison, the American average is 32%.

Also according to the Economist, the recycling rate here in the Netherlands stands at 60%. Not bad if you consider they don’t collect plastic from households. I do, however, think that there is plastic being collected and recycled from businesses and other large producers. I mean, there is a European Directive that makes it mandatory for them to recycle a certain amount of plastic.

So, my friends, if some time in the future your municipality asks you to put all your recyclables in one bag, worry not! It’s a good thing!

Oh and sorry, Treehugger, for ripping off the image from your post. It’s just so pretty and informative… I hope you can forgive me. I do it out of reverence to you.

June 12, 2007 at 2:16 pm 4 comments

Toilet paper issues

Tree free? What about chlorine?This is just a short post about my full-of-indecisions and enviro-dilemmas sustainable-attempt of a life. I recently purchased my first ever pack of recycled toilet paper… Which is all well and good, but now I am wondering if it is really better for the environment if I buy the said paper.

You see, when I buy a package of regular virginal toilet paper, it’s normally never less than 12 rolls, wrapped in plastic. The thing is, because recycled paper is so unusual, I always have to buy it in small packs of 4. So if I buy 3 packs of recycled toilet paper, I produce around 2 times more plastic waste (I emphasize that here it’s not possible to recycle plastic) than if I buy a 12-pack.

The package brags about being made out of polyethylene plastic, and therefore free of evil PVC. However, what concerns me is that not only there is no mention of the post-consumer content, as there is no mention of the bleaching method. Since nothing is said about oxygen bleaching, I can only assume that this paper was chlorine bleached, which is about as nasty as it gets. Details about recycling paper and the nastiness of bleaching can be found here and here, for example.

And so, my friends, while I don’t find any other kinds of recycled paper, I think I am going to keep using trees… I have to say this is not an easy decision to make, and I appreciate any input anyone has on this matter.

April 10, 2007 at 12:50 pm 13 comments


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