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Recycling Roundups

Single-Use Coffee Pods Just Got Less Evil

A few years ago, I was waiting in line at a Whole Foods coffee bar. A woman asked the barista, “What do you recommend for a Keurig?”

The resulting pause was too long; I couldn’t resist.

“A sledgehammer,” I piped up. (*)

gallagher sledge o matic
Sledge-o-Matic could save the world from bad coffee!

Snarky advice and fantasies aside, I do not encourage the wanton destruction of single-serve machines. However, I have long been disgusted with the amount of waste generated by their disposable capsules. They encase perfectly compostable coffee grounds in a plastic pod. The unit is non-recyclable due to the organic waste inside, and even if cleaned, is too small to be accepted by many recyclers. So they go to a landfill, where the coffee grounds decompose into greenhouse gases, and the plastic just sits there forever.

How many pods are discarded each year? According to the New York Times, in 2015 Keurig alone sold over nine billion single-serve capsules. That’s over 24 million used per day. How many are recycled? Very few.

As a coffee snob myself, I’d be the last person to advise you to give up the habit. (And my fellow runners would laugh in my face.) But I sure as heck would prefer my fellow caffeine addicts indulge in a sustainable manner. Here are some ways to do just that.

Continue reading “Single-Use Coffee Pods Just Got Less Evil”

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Recycling Roundup, Week of Feb. 25, 2019: Zero Waste Cities

A number of cities around the world – at least 25, according to National Geographic – are pursuing Zero Waste as a city-wide initiative. Of the 94 major cities in the C40 Cities organization, 23 have signed a commitment that includes the following goals by the year 2030:

  • Cut the amount of waste generated by each citizen by 15%
  • Reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incineration by 50%
  • Increase the landfill diversion rate to 70%

It sounds great. But how much can reasonably be achieved?

In this post I highlight a couple of cities that have already made major strides in this direction – and one that is struggling with the basics.

Continue reading “Recycling Roundup, Week of Feb. 25, 2019: Zero Waste Cities”

Recycling Roundup, Week of Feb. 18, 2019: Focus on Reduction

What’s a much better way to deal with single use plastics than recycling them? Not using them in the first place.

It’s no secret that the world is swimming in plastic waste. In some cases, literally. And a good deal of that plastic was designed for single use. Plastic water and soda bottles, straws, utensils, and carryout packaging are manufactured, used, and then discarded, ending their usefulness and value to society.

According to the EPA, in 2015 the U.S. produced 34.5 million tons of plastics, with 3.1 million tons (9%) recycled. Landfills received 26 million tons. And it’s estimated that worldwide, between 5 million and 12 million tons of plastic waste per year end up in the ocean.

How much better to replace single-use plastics with reusable materials, or – even better – find ways to eliminate them! Here are three examples of communities, and even entire states, taking progressive action to reduce or eliminate certain single-use plastics. Read the full story by clicking on the links.

Continue reading “Recycling Roundup, Week of Feb. 18, 2019: Focus on Reduction”

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