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How Specialty Recycling Companies Reduce Plastic Waste

Civil Eats – “With the lack of a national recycling standard and a confusing patchwork of local rules, specialty recyclers are stepping in to take whatever traditional recyclers reject. We ask a lot of food packaging. It needs to look good and keep perishable food safe, intact, and unblemished as it travels from the producer to grocery stores and then on to people’s homes, with minimal weight. Some food packaging is made of multiple layers of different materials fused together. While this increases durability, it also makes it difficult to recycle. “We’ve done a great job as a society of creating packaging that is efficient and appealing,” said Gerrine Pan, vice president of partnerships at Ridwell, a Seattle-based startup that helps consumers send less waste to landfills. “But our rate of packaging innovation has far outpaced our rate of being able to handle that material in the traditional waste management system.” Launched in 2018, Ridwell is part of a small but growing group of specialty recyclers helping to educate consumers about reducing waste while collecting materials that traditional municipal recycling services won’t. Some offer memberships or subscriptions to residents for a monthly fee with bi-weekly pickups from their curbs or doorsteps, and a few also provide services to businesses. Their reach ranges from regional to multi-state. Rabbit Recycling, for example, operates in the Philadelphia Metropolitan area, while the ReCollective offers services in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, which includes Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Cary. Recyclops serves residents and businesses in more than 30 states and most major metro areas. Ridwell now has 100,000 members in eight metro areas in seven states. Every two weeks, the company picks up multi-layer plastic food packaging, plastic clamshell containers, batteries, lightbulbs, and other hard-to-recycle materials from the doorsteps of members who pay $14 and up per month…”

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