1. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  2. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  3. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  4. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  5. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  6. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  7. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  8. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  9. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  10. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  11. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  12. THE NATURE GAP
  13. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  14. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  15. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  16. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  17. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  18. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  19. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  20. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  21. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  22. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  23. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  24. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  25. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  26. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  27. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  28. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  29. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  30. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  31. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  32. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  33. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  34. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  35. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  36. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  37. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  38. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  39. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  40. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  41. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  42. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  43. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  44. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  45. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  46. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  47. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  48. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  49. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  50. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  51. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  52. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  53. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  54. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  55. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  56. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  57. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  58. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  59. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  60. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  61. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  62. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  63. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  64. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  65. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  66. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  67. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  68. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  69. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  70. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  71. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  72. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  73. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  74. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  75. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  76. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  77. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  78. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  79. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  80. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  81. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  82. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  83. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  84. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  85. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  86. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  87. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  88. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  89. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  90. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  91. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  92. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  93. Are You Going to Drink That?
  94. The Origins of ecoWURD
  95. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  96. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  97. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  98. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
  1. Penn to donate $100 million to Philadelphia school district to help public school children
  2. BLACK ECOLOGIES IN TIDEWATER VIRGINIA
  3. WHAT IS “FROM THE SOURCE REPORTING?”
  4. LEADERSHIP IN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
  5. THE ECOWURD SUMMIT LAUNCH
  6. National Geographic Virtual Photo Camp: Earth Stories Aimed to Elevate Indigenous Youth Voices
  7. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2020
  8. TOO MANY NATURAL GAS SPILLS
  9. GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
  10. BLACK VOTERS ARE THE ECO-VOTERS CLIMATE ACTIVISTS ARE LOOKING FOR
  11. CANNABIS PROFIT & BLACK ECONOMY
  12. THE NATURE GAP
  13. BLACK PEOPLE NEED NATURE
  14. WHAT IS TREEPHILLY?
  15. IS AN OBSCURE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE IN HARRISBURG DOING ENOUGH?
  16. AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISM’S RACIST ROOTS
  17. “THERE’S REALLY A LOT OF QUIET SUFFERING OUT THERE
  18. “WE NEED TO GET INTO THE SUPPLY CHAIN”
  19. “AN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW THAT GIVES YOU A VOICE”
  20. URBAN PLANNING AS A TOOL FOR WHITE SUPREMACY
  21. HEAT WAVES REMIND US CLIMATE CHANGE IS STILL HERE
  22. Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land
  23. IN PANDEMIC, MAKING SURE PEOPLE EAT & HOW HBCUs HELP
  24. WE’RE NOT DONE, YET – MORE ACCOUNTABILITY IS NEEDED AT THE PES REFINERY SITE
  25. COVID-19 IS LAYING WASTE TO RECYCLING PROGRAMS
  26. THE PHILADELPHIA HEALTH EQUITY GAPS THAT COVID-19 EXPOSED
  27. THE POWER OF NEW HERBALISM
  28. THERE’S NO RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
  29. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit
  30. ecoWURD Earth Day Summit 2020 Press Release
  31. Too Much Food At Farms, Too Little Food At Stores
  32. THE LINK BETWEEN AIR POLLUTION & COVID-19
  33. CORONAVIRUS REVEALS WHY ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IS STILL THE CRITICAL ISSUE OF OUR TIME
  34. FROM KATRINA TO CORONAVIRUS, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
  35. COVID-19 SHOWS A BIGGER IMPACT WHERE BLACK PEOPLE LIVE
  36. THE CORONAVIRUS CONVERSATION HAS GOT TO GET A LOT MORE INCLUSIVE THAN THIS
  37. MEDIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE COVERAGE KEEPS BLACK PEOPLE OUT OF IT
  38. “WE DON’T HAVE A CULTURE OF PREPAREDNESS”
  39. PHILADELPHIA HAS A FOOD ECONOMY
  40. HOW URBAN AGRICULTURE CAN IMPROVE FOOD SECURITY IN U.S. CITIES
  41. MAPPING THE LINK BETWEEN INCARCERATION & FOOD INSECURITY
  42. PHILLY’S JAILS ARE, LITERALLY, MAKING PEOPLE SICK
  43. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit 2019
  44. ecoWURD Environmental Justice Summit
  45. “We Can’t Breathe: Zulene Mayfield’s Lifelong War with Waste ‘Managers’”
  46. “Is The Black Press Reporting on Environmental Issues?” by David Love
  47. “The Dangerous Connection Between Climate Change & Food” an interview with Jacqueline Patterson and Adrienne Hollis
  48. “An Oil Refinery Explosion That Was Never Isolated” by Charles Ellison
  49. “Philly Should Be Going ‘Community Solar'” an interview w/ PA Rep. Donna Bullock
  50. “Is The Litter Index Enough?” an interview w/ Nic Esposito
  51. “How Sugarcane Fires in Florida Are Making Black People Sick” an interview w/ Frank Biden
  52. Philly Farm Social – Video and Pictures
  53. #PHILLYFARMSOCIAL GETS REAL IN THE FIELD
  54. THE LACK OF DIVERSE LEADERS IN THE GREEN SPACE Environmental Advocacy Organizations – especially the “Big Green” – Really Need More Black & Brown People in Senior Positions
  55. PLASTIC BAG BANS CAN BACKFIRE … WHEN YOU HAVE OTHER PLASTICS TO CHOOSE FROM
  56. WE REALLY NEED POLITICAL STRATEGISTS LEADING ON CLIMATE CHANGE – NOT ACADEMICS
  57. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN A MUCH MORE CLIMATIC WORLD
  58. A SMALL GERMANTOWN NON-PROFIT “TRADES FOR A DIFFERENCE”
  59. IS PHILLY BLAMING ITS TRASH & RECYCLING CRISIS ON BLACK PEOPLE?
  60. BUT WHAT DOES THE GREEN NEW DEAL MEAN FOR BLACK PEOPLE?
  61. HOW GREEN IS PHILLY’S “GREENWORKS” PLAN?
  62. The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy event recap #ecoWURD #phillyisgreen
  63. Bike-friendly cities should be designed for everyone, not just for wealthy white cyclists
  64. RENAMING “GENTRIFICATION”
  65. FOUR GOVERNORS, ONE URBAN WATERSHED IN NEED OF ACTION
  66. JUST HOW BAD IS THE AIR HURTING PHILLY’S BLACK FAMILIES?
  67. EcoWURD Presents:The Future of Work in Philly’s Green Economy
  68. IF YOU ARE LOW-INCOME OR HOMELESS, THE POLAR VORTEX IS LIKE A FORM OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
  69. NOT JUST FLINT: THE WATER CRISIS IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
  70. DO THE TRAINS STOP RUNNING? THE SHUTDOWN’S IMPACT ON MASS TRANSIT
  71. BLACK WOMEN & THE TROUBLE WITH BABY POWDER
  72. A WHITE COLLAR CRIME VICTIMIZING NICETOWN
  73. IN NORTH CAROLINA, CLIMATE CHANGE & VOTER SUPPRESSION WORKED HAND-IN-HAND
  74. LOW-INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS WOULD GAIN THE MOST FROM GREEN ROOFS
  75. YOUR OWN HOOD: CLOSING THE GENERATIONAL GREEN DIVIDE IN BLACK PHILADELPHIA
  76. THE PRICE OF WATER: LITERAL & FIGURATIVE THIRST AT WORK
  77. THAT CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT TRUMP DIDN’T WANT YOU TO SEE? YEAH, WELL, IT’S THE LAW
  78. RACIAL & ETHNIC MINORITIES ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO WILDFIRES
  79. NO IFS, ANDS OR BUTTS Philly Has a Cigarette Butt Problem
  80. HOW SUSTAINABLE CAN PHILLY GET?
  81. USING AFROFUTURISM TO BUILD THE KIND OF WORLD YOU WANT
  82. UNCOVERING PHILLY’S HIDDEN TOXIC DANGERS …
  83. WILL THE ENVIRONMENT DRIVE VOTERS TO THE POLLS? (PART I)
  84. ARE PHILLY SCHOOLS READY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE?
  85. 🎧 SEPTA CREATES A GAS PROBLEM IN NORTH PHILLY
  86. 🎧 BREAKING THE GREEN RETAIL CEILING
  87. That’s Nasty: The Cost of Trash in Philly
  88. 🎧 How Can You Solarize Philly?
  89. 🎧 “The Environment Should Be an Active, Living Experience”
  90. Philly’s Lead Crisis Is Larger Than Flint’s
  91. Despite What You Heard, Black Millennials Do Care About the Environment
  92. Hurricanes Always Hurt Black Folks the Most
  93. Are You Going to Drink That?
  94. The Origins of ecoWURD
  95. We Seriously Need More Black Climate Disaster Films
  96. 🎧 Why Should Philly Care About a Pipeline?
  97. 🎧 Not Just Hotter Days Ahead… Costly Ones Too
  98. Philly’s Big and Dangerous Hot Mess

Where Is All That Extra Plastic Going?   

Brian J. Love & Julie Rieland | The Conversation

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Many items designated as reusable, communal or secondhand have been temporarily barred to minimize person-to-person exposure. This is producing higher volumes of waste.

Grocers, whether by state decree or on their own, have brought back single-use plastic bags. Even IKEA has suspended use of its signature yellow reusable in-store bags. Plastic industry lobbyists have also pushed to eliminate plastic bag bans altogether, claiming that reusable bags pose a public health risk.

As researchers interested in industrial ecology and new schemes for polymer recycling, we are concerned about challenges facing the recycling sector and growing distrust of communal and secondhand goods. The trends we see in the making and consuming of single-use goods, particularly plastic, could have lasting negative effects on the circular economy.

Recyclers Under Pressure

Since March 2020, when most shelter-in-place orders began, sanitation workers have noted massive increases in municipal garbage and recyclables. For example, in cities like Chicago, workers have seen up to 50 percent more waste.  [ecoWURD note: Trash collection in Philadelphia more than doubled in some neighborhoods, see Billy Penn for more]

According to the Solid Waste Association of North America, U.S. cities saw a 20 percent average increase in municipal solid waste and recycling collection from March into April 2020. Increased trash can be attributed partly to spring cleaning, but most of it is due to people spending greater time at home. Restaurants struggling to survive under COVID-19 restrictions are contributing to the rise in plastic and paper waste with takeout packaging.

Although higher volumes of recyclables are being set on the curb, budget deficits are squeezing recycling programs. Many municipalities are struggling with multimillion-dollar shortfalls. Some communities, such as Rock Springs, Wyoming, and East Peoria, Illinois, have cut recycling programs.

And these stresses are testing a business already faced uncertainty.

Turmoil in Scrap Markets

The global recycling economy has suffered since 2018 as first China and then other Asian nations banned imports of low-quality scrap – often meaning improperly cleaned food packaging and poorly sorted recyclable materials. As in any business, the value of raw recyclables is linked to supply and demand. Without demand from nations like China, which formerly took up to 700,000 tons of U.S. scrap annually, recyclers have scrambled to stay in business.

The pandemic has boosted prices for some materials. One industry leader told us that between February and May 2020, prices doubled for recycled paper and tripled for recycled cardboard. These shifts reflect higher demand for tissue products and shipping packaging under shelter-in-place orders.

However, he also reported that prices for the most-recycled categories of reclaimed plastics were at 10-year lows. An influx of cheap oil has driven the raw material cost of oil-derived virgin plastics to their lowest levels in decades, outcompeting recycled feedstocks.

Difficult Economics

Ideally, revenues from recycling offset municipalities’ costs for collecting and disposing of solid wastes. However, given worker safety concerns, low market prices for scrap materials, a slowed economy and cheaper alternatives for disposal, many communities and businesses across the U.S. have temporarily suspended collection of recyclables and bottle deposits.

Meanwhile, as the commercial sector slowed, the distribution of waste generation changed. As people have spent more time producing waste at home, waste collectors implemented new procedures to protect their employees from infection.

Recycling is a very hands-on process that requires workers to manually sort out items from the collection stream that are unsuitable for mechanical processing. Workers and waste collection companies have raised many safety questions about recycling during the pandemic.

Precautions like social distancing and use of personal protective equipment have become commonplace among waste collectors and sorters, though concerns remain. Sorters are increasingly relying on automation, but implementation can be costly and takes time.

Collections on Pause

Based on monitoring since 2017 by the trade publication Waste Dive, nearly 90 curbside recycling programs had experienced or continue to experience a prolonged suspension over the past several years. About 30 of these suspensions have occurred since January 2020.On a broader scale, it’s not clear how much more waste Americans are currently producing during shutdowns. Commercial and residential waste aren’t directly comparable. For example, a granola bar wrapper thrown away at the office is tallied differently than if discarded at home.

It is also challenging to quantify the effects of the pandemic while it is still unfolding. Historically, waste output from the commercial and industrial sectors has far outweighed the municipal stream. With many offices and business closed or operating at low levels, total U.S. waste production could actually be at a record low during this time. However, data on commercial and industrial wastes are not readily available.

At the California-based Peninsula Sanitary Service, which serves the Stanford University community, total tonnage was down 60 percent in March. The company attributes this drop to reduced commercial waste, particularly from construction. Similarly, the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, noted a 10 percent decrease year over year of waste collection levels for April.

More Plastic Trash

As cities and industries reopen in the coming months, new data will show the pandemic’s effects on consumer habits and waste generation. But regardless of total volume, the mix of materials in household wastes has shifted given the new ubiquity of single-use plastic containers, online shopping packaging and disposable gloves, wipes and face masks. Many of these new staples of pandemic life are made from plastics that are simply not worth recycling if there are any other disposal options.

Today Americans are trying to balance their physical well-being against ever-mounting piles of plastic waste. At a time when reducing and reusing could be dangerous, and recycling economics are unfavorable, we see a need for better options, such as more compostable packaging that is both safer and more sustainable.

 

Brian J. Love is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan and Julie Rieland is a PhD Candidate in Macromolecular Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan