In June 2015, The State of Texas Alliance for Recycling (STAR) partnered with EPA Region 6 to hold a state-wide summit to explore some of the biggest issues facing municipalities, recycling processors, and manufacturers with regards to complex package recycling. The workshop included a discussion to identify points of interest and relevant issues and topics in the handling and marketing of materials. From this workshop, three workgroups were formed in order to focus on certain issues including end markets, existing policies in Texas, and education/messaging. Each workgroup came up with their own projects, identified the problems, did their research, and established the next steps needed to implement their projects.
- End Markets: These are the final home for recycled material. This group worked on developing recommendations for moving forward with a project to find end uses for hard to recycle material, notably plastic multi-layer film pouches. Their proposed solutions are to collaborate with universities to research innovative uses for new material, followed up with a statewide innovator’s forum and an open innovation platform with global reach. Next steps: To raise funding for proposed solutions, and recruit more people to help make projects possible.
- Existing Policy in Texas: National, state, and local policy can be utilized as a tool to move material recovery forward. This group found that current issues worth examining include litter and the cost of clean up, decreased fund allocation for solid waste grants, and material (packaging in particular) is getting more complicated to recycle. This group will be working to produce a white paper regarding packaging management and policy. Next steps: Distribute research report to interested parties in hopes of getting it to legislators, recruit more people to help work on disseminating information.
- Education/Messaging: This group found that unclear recycling messages/education leads to contamination, costly services, and lower recycling rates. Proposed solutions include community-based projects/campaigns in order to reach larger and more involved audiences, and creating easy and cost-effective education tools that can be housed on the state recycling organization’s website for use by local municipalities and other entities. Next steps: Determine development costs, recruit local leaders to help fund and implement project.
The Texas Package Recycling Forum, which took place in late July 2016, was the opportunity for these workgroups to show off their hard work and help further initiate a plan to execute them. The forum also included presentations from guest speakers from across the country, who talked about their experiences developing ideas related to our topic areas and implementing them into projects that increase package recycling. Guest speakers and their presentations included:
- Keefe Harrison and Justin Gast, The Recycling Partnership
- Jan Rayman, ReWall- “Local End Markets”
- Emily Tipaldo, American Chemistry Council- “Materials Recovery for the Future: Flexible Packaging Research Program”
- Kim Mote, Texans for Clean Water- “Who We Are, What We Are Doing”
The Planning Team (L to R): Todd Bryan, CDR Associates; Sara Nichols, STAR; Soria Adibi, North Central Texas Council of Governments; Erin Gorman, TCEQ; Michele Wagner, Carton Council; Renee Bellew, EPA Region 6About 45 people gathered on July 18th for Texas Package Recycling Summit, which was held at the North Central Texas Council of Governments in Arlington
Overall, the forum was very successful in identifying the issues and presenting potential solutions for each work group topic. Participants were eager and passionate about their chosen topics, which was proven through their hard work and desire to continue to implement their projects. The next steps are being established by both the Planning Team and the workgroups and the momentum is gaining, as we are excited to put these projects and ideas in action to help make a change in the package recycling industry. In order to keep moving forward, we are looking to get others involved who could be helpful in obtaining these goals. Anyone interested in joining one of our work groups, or who may have any resources that could be of use to our work groups, please contact us at [email protected].