U.S. EPR News

Weekend Reader for January 6, 2012

  • Let’s look at The Year in Biomimicry…GreenBiz.com’s Tom McKeag looks at the top 10 innovations inspired by the natural world.
  • Vermont’s energy landscape shifted dramatically in 2011, and industry experts say the merger of the state’s largest utilities and the shutdown of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant will impact the state’s electricity costs for a generation, VTdigger.og says in their 2011 energy news roundup.
  • Now available on DVD and Netflix Streaming: “DIVE! Living off America’s Waste”  GreenMuze.com calls Dive! “a poignant, and at times humorous, essay on American food waste and a rally cry against the hunger crisis in the USA – everyone in North America should see this film.” Watch the trailer on the film’s web site

A Post-Holiday Look At Overpackaging


The holidays are behind us, and some of us probably still bear the battle scars from cutting open the inevitable “clamshell” packaging that encases so many consumer goods these days.

Mother Jones compiled some statistics on, as they put it, overpackaging, killer clamshells and other common triggers of “wrap rage” back in 2009. The story is full of interesting statistics, but here are some key points:

Nearly 10% of a typical product’s price is for packaging.

About 35% of Americans say they seek out alternatives to excessively packaged goods

Worldwide, 50% of consumers say they would sacrifice convenience for more environmentally sustainable packaging

In 2007, Americans threw away 78.5 million tons of packaging (about 520 pounds per person). That’s 71% more than in 1960.

Continue to the article

Weekend Reader for December 30, 2011

  • Vermont has issued its Final Comprehensive Energy Plan, envisioning 90% of the state’s fuel, heat and energy coming from renewables by 2050. Stephen Lacey at ThinkProgress.org says this represents a kind of “Energy Secession” from the rest of the US.
  • Outdoor sporting retail giant REI is focusing its energies on packaging reduction. Read more about their efforts in The Guardian.
  • In this week’s “Is this really news?” category: New Jersey had discovered that the Mafia had deep ties to the state’s trash business. Shocking.
  • Mexico City has closed on of the world’s largest landfills. Bordo Poniente had collected 76 million tons of garbage since it opened in 1985. Now, Mexican authorities hope to generate energy from the methane and to generate money from recovered recyclables.
  • Going off-the-grid (or even partially off-grid) means a lot of mental adjustments — especially when it comes to dealing with waste. SurvivalBlog.com takes an in-depth look at ways to handle waste, and it has some interesting information in there even for us non-survivalists.
  • Americans and Europeans end up tossing a lot of spoiled food in the garbage, up to 30% in fact. This is an appalling habit in a world where so many go hungry, and even if that weren’t the case, it’s just plain wasteful. MrsGreen at LittleGreenBlog.com shares her strategy for reducing food waste down to near-zero.

When Less Is More: The Case of the Shrinking Bottle Cap

Have you looked at your bottle cap lately?

Probably not. Let’s face it, when you’re cracking the top of an ice-cold water, soda or juice drink, you’re focusing on the beverage, not the closure. But bottle caps are a good example of the kinds of small changes we see when we encourage produces to move towards responsible choices.

Since 2008, the standard 38 mm plastic bottle closure has become shorter and lighter. Many manufacturers have reduced the size by 2/3 to 1/2 and trimmed 30% of the weight.

Shrinkage has been driven in part by economics. Smaller caps require less plastic, which reduces production costs. It also reduces the weight of the bottled product, which in turn reduces shipping costs.

But manufacturers are well aware that the consumer is looking for less packaging and more corporate responsbility.

“There’s going to be more concer about sustainability issues, recyclability of resources, resins that come from renewable resources other than petrolium,” Tony Smith, an executive at Closure Systems International of Indianapolis told Beverage Industry Magazine earlier this year.

He believes closure manufacturers will be investigating new materials or greener formulations of older materials in the coming years.

The bottle closure business is a $1.7 billion a year industry, producing over 100 billion units per year. Even a small change, repeated 100 billion times, adds up to a huge reduction in the amount of waste ending up in our landfills and our waterways.

It’s one way were less can definitely end up being more.

Weekend Reader for December 16, 2011

  • Office supply mega-chain Staples, in partnership with electronics recycling site Gazelle, has launched a program to incentivize electronic recycling in return for store credits.
  • The North American waste stream contains about $8 to $10 billion worth of valuables. YourOttawaRegion.com looks at the ways Ottawa is trying to extract more of the wealth, and improve the environment in the process.
  • The latest issue of Recycling Today looks as the presentations on Extended Producer Reponsibility offered at this November’s World Recycling Forum in Hong Kong.
  • With Christmas a little over a week away, it’s almost time to start thinking about Treecycling.

Sign Up for our Email Newsletter