Companies showcase recycling efforts
The National Recycling Coalition’s 26th Annual Congress and Expo wrapped up its third day at the Colorado Convention Center on Wednesday.
“It’s a wealth of knowledge and information,” said Daniel Baril, the recycling program manager at CU’s Environmental Center.
The conference ran Sept. 16-19 and gave recycling, sustainability and solid waste professionals from all over the country the opportunity to mingle and share their knowledge through seminars and speeches.
An exhibition featuring booths sponsored and run by various waste management companies, recycling associations and vendors specializing in using all types of recycled materials, from Air Conditioning Recycling to aluminum cans in order to make very diverse products was one of the many highlights of the conference.
Numerous companies specializing in the making of recycling bins filled their spaces with different prototypes.
Formal attire made of recycled materials was on display as well, including a formal gown made out of Target bags and a dress decorated with recycled pieces of glass.
“It’s my first conference, so I didn’t know what to expect,” said Jerry Thornton of Coca-Cola Recycling LLC. “But there’s a great turnout.”
Waste Management, Staples, College and University Recycling Council, Coca Cola Recycling LLC, Eco-Cycle, and many individual recycling associations from all over the nation were just a few of the many organizations that had representatives present at the convention.
Coca-Cola Recycling LLC, a company launched Sept. 5 by Coca-Cola Enterprises had a colorful booth at the venue to publicize their new program.
“We’ve formed a company with a goal,” said Gary Wygent, vice president of Recycling Business Development for Coca-Cola Recycling LLC. “We are going to take an active role in closing the loop.”
Wygent said a concrete goal of the company includes the recovery and recycling of over 500 million pounds of material by 2010. Another goal is to recycle and reuse 100 percent of its plastic packaging in the U.S with help from a new recycling plant in Spartanburg, S.C. the Coca-Cola Company plans to build and improve already established recycling programs.
“I think that the total amount of recyclables will increase dramatically in time,” Wygent said. “That will be good for everyone.”
The College and University Recycling Council a sponsor of RecycleMania, gave people at the conference an idea of what recycling programs are like on college campuses.
Mary Jensen, who runs the sustainability and recycling programs at Keene State College in Keene, N.H. said that RecycleMania helped recycle 18.6 pounds of waste last year with participation from 200 colleges.
“It’s grown exponentially every year,” she said. “We had 200 schools this year; we’re hoping it will be 400 next year.”
Jack DeBell, CU’s Recycling Services’ director of development and one of the many speakers at the Recycling Coalition Congress, expressed his pride for CU’s recycling programs.
“I’ve been told that the tour and workshop that were held at CU Boulder on Sunday set the new standard for what colleges and universities should be,” Debell said. “I’ve heard a lot of flattering things about our program. I feel really proud of CU and I have sense of accomplishment that I’ve never felt before.”
Debell also praised the strong presence of extended producer responsibility at the conference. Debell said that industries are realizing that waste is just lost profits. To run a better business, companies are figuring out that it makes more sense to just not generate waste in the first place.
“We are in a new era of responsibility,” he said.
Companies like Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola showed at the convention how they are taking control of their waste.
Marjorie Griek, executive director of the Colorado Association for Recycling said even students can make a difference.
“Recycling is just simple; anyone can do it and have an impact,” she said. “I would like to see students more involved in recycling. Have fun with it; people take it so seriously”