Glass recycling is not a certainty, and we can change that
The United States is beginning to feel the long-term effects of the China Ban, especially in the glass recycling industry. With the current lack of infrastructure in place, 67% of the glass waste produced is being directed to landfills. Some communities are being asked to put their glass waste in trash bins because, in multi-stream recycling, glass waste is negatively affecting current equipment. Consumers may prefer glass packaging over plastic due to its known recyclability, yet some in the waste management industry are currently unable to ensure all glass will get recycled, while others know it won’t.
With the current lack of infrastructure in place, 67% of the glass waste produced is being directed to landfills.
That’s where the End of Waste (EOW) Foundation comes in. Consumers are looking for proof of recycling and are now able to find it through EOW’s Blockchain Waste Traceability System (BWTS). The BWTS tracks glass waste quantities from bin to new life, following the glass from the material recovery facility (MRF) to the glass processor to the manufacturer. The software ensures all of the stakeholders in the recycling industry are transparent in their transactions, as the software is able to provide immutable data. EOW analyzes this data and provides technical solutions to improve infrastructure and increase recycling rates.
“The need for global action against our climate crisis has accelerated with the recent China ban. A tangible solution to create sustainable infrastructure in America’s recycling industry starts with trust and transparency, ensured by technology” says Ionut Georgescu, Co-Founder, and Chief Evangelist of End of Waste.
Technology is a key component to increasing recycling rates, which requires, in turn, investments in technology development. End of Waste offers an investment system called the Distributed Shared Responsibility (DSR) system, which allows stakeholders to share in the responsibility of the product’s lifecycle. Since everyone is responsible for developing solutions to our current waste issues, contributions to the sustainable infrastructure in the US can come from every stakeholder through the DSR system, which can propel technology development in a direction that will benefit us all.
In this way, product manufacturers will not bear the responsibility to invest in new technology that supports the current momentum towards a more circular economy. Since more businesses that use glass packaging are becoming aware that only 33% of what they create is being recycled, the need to innovate in order to find solutions to this problem can be an expensive burden upon manufacturers.
When recycling was implemented in the US, glass was the preferred packaging, as it was promoted as the best solution for recycling efficacy.
When recycling was implemented in the US, glass was the preferred packaging, as it was promoted as the best solution for recycling efficacy. Yet this has turned out to have not been the case, which leaves consumers and product manufacturers wondering why. EOW is attempting to answer this question through BWTS, which will help to track the life cycle of glass products so that it becomes possible to be sure whether each product is ultimately recycled.
“We believe in the power of communities and that consumer behavior will help shift the paradigm in recycling. It is imperative that these communities continue to actively recycle glass and be the changemakers and the example for other parts of the U.S.” Georgescu adds.
Investing in the DSR system will bring infrastructure to the communities that no longer have glass recycling available. Through the BWTS, municipalities will have the opportunity to respond to their citizens and invest in a more sustainable future.
EOW is committed to increasing the current glass recycling rate of 33% to 85% by 2030 with this system. Yet, with the glass recycling rate being around 6% in the 1960s and around 33% in 2019, it’s likely that we’ll reach 85% in about 100 years. The scientific research on the subject has made clear that we do not have that kind of time. For this reason, End of Waste is showing how technology and investments have the potential to change this rate to a more accelerated speed.
End of Waste started their mission with glass but will be working to track all waste materials in the future. For example, End of Waste is currently developing aluminum tracking software. Sustainable materials should be the choice material of all product manufacturers and End of Waste is ensuring that.
By Christina Richards, Digital Marketing Specialist, End of Waste Foundation