The Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) held their first in-person conference since the pandemic, and it was a packed event. After a welcome by Josh Kelly, Materials Management Section Chief for the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and NERC’s Vice President, he introduced the organization’s new Executive Director, Megan Fontes, who stepped into the role after Lynn Rubinstein retired this year. With a decade of experience in corporate communications, and working in a non-profit organization, Megan is poised to lead NERC into the next chapter. She expressed that she was glad to be joining NERC at a critical time and looked forward to continuing the momentum that Lynn established, emphasizing the need to create more opportunities between public and private entities as well as government agencies.

Next, Josh gave a shout out to the sponsors as well as thanked and recognized benefactors and sustaining advisory members. The Partner Awards this year went to Coca-Cola and Waste Management, which earned NERC’s Distinguished Partnership Award. The Environmental Leadership Awards included Vanguard Renewables and the Lifetime Achievement recognition went to Terri Goldberg, Executive Director of NEWMOA.

 Circular Strategy
Moderator Resa Dimino, Managing Principal of RRS and SignalFire Group introduced the keynote speaker, Jon Smieja, VP of Circularity & Senior Analyst, at GreenBiz, who spoke on “How to Unlearn: An All-of-the-Above Circular Strategy”. He discussed how we need a way to use our resources better. We live in a linear economy (take – make – waste). While waste is not just going to the landfill (recycling, waste to energy, etc.), even some things during these processes will go to waste. Circular economy takes all things out of the trash. We need creativity, hard work and cooperation in order to keep materials in their highest and best use infinitely and in a tight loop. As we get into other areas, it gets tricky since reuse products are passed from one person to another and refurbishment products are passed on to third party. Smieja emphasized rethinking and redesigning how business operate. We want to minimize unacceptable materials going to waste. Circular economy needs to be in all processes—recycling, design, material recovery, refurbish/repair, new business models, reduce material use, and remanufacturing. There are eight major sectors where he sees the most movement: Fashion, Plastics and Packaging, CPGs, Retail, Tech and Electronics, Automotive, Food, and Built Environment. He believes that resale has been overhyped because even though they are seeing uptick in resale platform, it is a small segment in every sector with exception of housing and automobiles. There is also an increase in retail but no decrease in new product sale. In advanced and chemical recycling, he said there is a lot of hype and there are a lot of opportunities in this small space, but it is not quite where it needs to be. Many companies are making packaging commitments but not following through. So, how do you measure circularity? This is where is gets complicated because every state, sector, national, globally has their own set of rules.  For this, you would have to take a step back and rethink how businesses operate; they would have to share data and provide benefits that are greater than their impacts. Almost zero companies are doing that, rather choosing to focus on sustainability. EPR has had varying degrees in success in various parts of the globe, as well as right to repair laws, bottle bills, and tax incentives to build infrastructure. We need to do a better job of management elements at the end of their first use and keep materials in circulation, otherwise we will struggle to get materials to advance that technological work. Finally, everything is staring to get digital, including product passports, blockchain, etc., which could unlock a lot of potential for the Circular Economy but 1) needs to scale, 2) needs to be interoperable, 3) how are we going to use all of this data? He left the audience with two questions: can we move fast enough to save in some of these materials? Can businesses within and across sectors share enough data to create the circular economy?

Food Waste Reduction
Debra Darby, Manager of Organics Sustainability Solutions for Tetra Tech, moderated the next sessions focusing on food waste reduction. First up was Katy Hart, Operations Director for ReFED, who talked about some of the studies that ReFED has done. As of 2019, 35% of food is wasted (just for human consumption), which is about $408B. Food waste happens at every stage of the supply chain—17M tons in farms, 11M tons in manufacturing, 23M tons in consumer facing businesses (70% is plate waste), 30M tons in homes (largest contributor). Uneaten food has an enormous impact on the environment since food accumulates emissions as it moves along the value chain (the relative contribution to lifecycle emissions varies by sector). Current trends that have an impact are rising fuel costs, rising food prices, trucker shortages, pending food shortages, climate change/natural disasters, which can lead to increased motivation and payback. Now, hybrid work environments, load ‘reshuffle’, closing restaurants, gigantic rise in food delivery, and supply chain disruptions have led to an increased chance of waste. In addition, consumer awareness of FLW, consumer angst, COVID, and racial inequity are factors in the opportunity to influence food behavior. She did say that there has been incredible state policy action with 99 bills introduced at the state level, and 28 of those passed (mostly west and east coasts but also starting to see more activity in the middle of the country). There has been a huge uptick in private capital. We are not on track to meet goal of 50% food waste reduction by 2023. We need more partnerships, programs, mentorships, etc.

Next, Alissa Westervelt, Senior Manager of donateNYC at the New York Department of Sanitation spoke about partnerships with food rescue organizations. donateNYC is a program of the DSNY aimed at reducing waste and making it easier for consumers to reduce and reuse. It keeps usable items out of the landfill and works with non-profits. The three primary functions are: 1) Directory: Residents – gives locations that accepts and distributes donations to the general public, this is listed on their online and mobile searchable app, 2) Exchange: Business and Non-Profits only – give and receive durable goods coordinated for pickup and delivery, including messaging and calendar functions, and 3) Food Portal – linked to local law from 2017 to help support food donations. Working with food rescue organizations, the tool was built out in-house. The donateNYC food portal launched in 2019. In their first year, donateNYC moved 80 tons of food. They work with a network of 70 non-profits that accepts ad distribute second hand and surplus goods. Almost 68,000 tons of materials kept out of landfills (food accounted for 55 tons). Other partnerships include the Ellen MacAurther Foundation to build out the user base with international members and the sanitation foundation as their arm to work on public private partnerships. Lessons learned include engaging stakeholders early and often, trying to avoid replicating work already done (dilutes impact and political power), government funding doesn’t guarantee future money for maintenance, cybersecurity concerns can impact development and updates, without policy support the private sector is slow to act. We need the line of communications for the private sector.

Moderator, Chris Nelson, Supervising Environmental Analyst for the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, introduced the next session, with Adoma Addo, Associate for Center for Biological Diversity, kicking off the presentation with“Waste Words: Consumer Perspectives on the Language of Waste Reduction”. The Center for Biological Diversity is a national non-profit organization. The project team worked on an educational and advocacy campaign, There was concern about waste reduction behaviors and challenges on the individual level, barriers to access, larger structural barriers, driving forces. This prompted a nationwide survey to identify which words people are most comfortable with. Adoma explained that the Center believes in both individual and systemic action and that we need larger shift in production and consumption of products as well as behavioral changes to protect biodiversity. The survey included the following—Key theme 1: Favoring familiarity and approachability; which words should be used to talk about generating and disposal of less waste? – Waste Reduction, Waste Prevention, Waste diversion, Source Reduction, Other. Which phrase best describes reducing waste overall as a lifestyle? – Sustainable Living, Conscious Consumption, Sustainable Consumption, Voluntary Simplicity, Eco-Minimalism, Other. Key theme 2: Environmental Motivations; What motivates you to reduce waste? – To Protect Nature, to Reduce Carbon Footprint, Simply/Organize Life, Reduce Spending Money, Other. Key Theme 3: Frustrations with Single-Use Food Packaging; Which action is most important for reducing waste? – Consumption of Items, Purchase of Unneeded Items, Donate Gently Used Items, Repair Broken Items, Other. What image comes to mind when thinking about the phrase waste prevention? – Reusable Water Bottle, Store Bulk Containers, Secondhand Items from a Thrift Store, Rechargeable Products, Other. Adoma emphasized that there needs to be a combination of individual and systemic changes to move forward.

Next up, Lisa Piering, Recycling Specialist for the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, talked about what their agency has done to help low income residents and recent immigrants understand what they can do to reduce waste by developing videos and handouts to educate them on better meal planning and date label myths. The material was translated into five different languages – Spanish, Nepali, Somali, Arabic, and Swahili. They developed four handouts with topics in each of the languages with understanding food date labeling, shopping for what you need, tips for managing purchased food to minimize waste. Lisa said they also exhibited at farmers markets, festivals, and other local events in the county and hosted food demonstration workshops (including with the Food Bank of CentralNY). The goal was to engage the audience so that they could use the tips anytime. Lessons learned include engaging with community-based organizations during the grant writing process, adapting to community needs, and getting participant feedback.

Reducing Waste Through Reuse
Moving onto reusable packaging systems, Karen Hagerman, Director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition for Green Blue, spoke on their guidance for reusable packaging. As an environmental non-profit dedicated to sustainable materials use in society, Green Blue also consists of Sustainable Packaging Coalition, How2Recycle, and Recycled Materials Standard. The guidance was designed to understand goals and assumptions in order to design a more successful reusable packaging program, focusing on the entire lifecycle of a package. A unique consideration includes the transportation and logistics phase – how often the package is functionally used, how far is it going, etc. The report is designed to see where the industry going in this space. She pointed out that industry assumptions for sustainable packaging include lower environmental impact, but that is not always the case. It depends on consumer participation, and a lot of components need to be in place for that to occur. The report addresses excessive consumption (presented as a way to lessen guilt but doesn’t address necessity of the product or underlying system). Motivation is primarily sustainability (there are also other motivations on business and consumer side, user experience and business benefits), displaces single-use plastics and eliminates plastics pollution (reusable options are offered alongside rather than replacing, so they are targeting a different consumer, avoid presenting it as the silver bullet), can be returned like the milkman model (lot of new expectations, standards and ways of life that complicate that model, shouldn’t require behavioral change (however will always require some level of behavior change). What is the goal of reusable packaging? Reduce environmental footprint, reduce consumption and disposable culture, reduce the amount of single-use packaging (while these are all goals, some will overlap). Evaluate where reuse is a good fit. There are always going to be some items that are a better fit, such as foodservice, items bought frequently, get returned often, subscription model in place, etc. Success looks like long term customer engagement, high return rates in practices, lower environmental footprint.

“Massachusetts is Moving Upstream to Grow the Reuse Economy” was a discussion given by Brooke Nash, Branch Chief for Municipal Waste Reduction in the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. She began by pointing out that reduce and reuse is hard to tackle because of decentralized infrastructure;  it is difficult to quantify via traditional waste metrics because there are informal reuse networks, limited tools to quantify environmental benefits, stakeholders are not networked, and there is a multitude of business models and drivers. The MA DEP’s progress on reuse initiatives, includes offering grants to reuse organizations—multi-year grants of $10,000 to $100,000 offered to non-profits and municipalities to build-out infrastructure storage, vehicles, etc. (the vast majority of grant grantees are municipalities). Incentives for municipal reuse programs include swap shops (open year-round), community repair events, single use plastic, building construction incentives through permits or pilot, tool library/library of things, and community zero waste drop off events (bikes, e-waste, textiles, books, etc). With schools and reuse items, there is a huge demand overseas that use desks, lighting, and other material. There is a huge potential there to capture the value. Also, grants for cafeteria conversion to reusables/dishwashers, mass facilities administrators’ association, mass school building authority, ad hoc working group on schools. They also offer one or more micro-grants focusing exclusively on reduce/reuse/repair/share projects—$5,000 for each and they are budgeted for $75,000 this year. Brooke said they are getting ready to put together the DEP/DEH stakeholder dialogue where they will develop best practices for containers, local boards of health, food service businesses, NGOs. Developed Deconstruction Working Group in May 2022 to look at the future of reuse. New waste disposal bans on mattresses and textiles in Massachusetts went into effect November 1. There will be two rounds of grant funding to support collection and processing businesses and nonprofits. Bans will increase reuse through donations of clothing and some portion of mattresses will be reused or refurbished.

Repurposing Materials
Rick Watson, Chief Executive Officer of the Delaware Solid Waste Authority and NERC’s Treasurer introduced the next speakers, Damon Carson, Owner and Founder of repurposedMaterials and Dave Giese, Deconstructionist for Deconstruction Works. Damon’s company works with secondary life materials. He talked about historical repurposing, which includes WWII parachutes in Italy being make into tree skirt for their olive farms to pick up olives, F4 Phantom external fuel tanks dropped in Vietnam, being made into fishing boats in southeast Asia, and also showed more well-known product reuse—wine barrels into planters, old tires used on tugboats, ocean containers into tiny houses, billboard vinyl to waterproof covers, aluminum bleachers (which are usually made into cans) but makes great tread on boat docks or wall décor, parachutes for tanks to shade canopies for theaters and wedding settings. He stressed that when they are looking at materials or products to repurpose, they evaluate it by using the SAVE it strategy: Standardized (is waste stream consistent, much easier to find secondary market), Availability (is it a reoccurring waste stream, building afterlife), Versatility (is it generic, versatile and adaptable), Engineering (attributes and characteristics and engineering – what did the products do in its first life?). Some additional examples that he gave of reuse were products that most would not think of having a second life. For example, a flat railcar (retired because of axles and hitches), while most get melted down, a second life could be a county bridge over a waterway. However, he did explain that just because things are reuse candidates does not mean they are commercially successful. For example, hot air balloon fabric are not reused because of their terrible smell, and jet liner inflatable evacuation slides cannot be reused because FAA rules state that they have to be certifiably destroyed for safety (they don’t want them end up being used on another airline).

Dave Giese spoke about his experience with reused building materials. While salvaging wood construction is nothing new, the hard part of taking apart a house is what to do with the material at the end, especially in the markets. Deconstruction Works tries to pull out everything they can before site is reused. What makes a good candidate for deconstruction? 1) House must be safe to work in, make sure structure will not collapse, 2) It must have building materials that are salvageable. Wealthy materials generally go to lower income areas. There are three ways to get material – donation, sale, and salvage job. Material donated by owner to non-profit reuse store, sell material themselves, or sell material but just for its value. It is critical that reuse/non-profit store gets involved early because they know what they want to sell, what demand is, inventory received. When selling materials to public (pick up or from warehouse or delivery), job is bid, reuse contract includes sales value 50/50 and it works well when homeowner wants to use some of the materials in their home. With salvage, the reuse contractor will sell materials for them, such as lumber, installation, etc. and is paid commission for sales work they do. People must come and pick material. If they don’t have a buyer in a week, they toss it because of storage limitations. So, why you should consider deconstruction? #1 reason is landfill diversion. Deconstruction plays key role in how much lumber ends up in landfill. #2 reason is learning how to deconstruct a home is a great pathway into building trades (plumbing, electricity, etc.). New homes get the highest levels of reuse materials (40%). This space is constantly evolving and learning how to make things more efficient.

At the end of the first day, the floor was open for people to discuss any issues they were having, events that were being held and shared ideas and solutions in their own respective regions. It was a great way to conclude the first day’s events.

Second Day Highlights on Development Strategies and Getting Material

Opening the second day of the NERC conference, the President of board, Megan Pryor kicked off the morning by having attendees participate in a recording of congratulations for Lynn Rubinstein with everyone waving and saying congratulations. In addition, she gave a shout out to Mary Ann Remolador for putting together a great conference and bringing everyone together for the first in-person event since the pandemic. The morning’s keynote speaker was Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, Katie Dykes, who spoke about what is going on in Connecticut. She pointed out that although they are relying on states to the west to dispose of waste, they plan on keeping out of state landfilling is as brief as possible. She said they are looking at best practices with their Northeast neighbors and how to implement them, especially with regards to packaging and other states who are adopting policies, so they can guarantee consistency and moving forward in step with their neighbors. She said they are also focusing on organics; there have been $5 million in grants awarded to 15 municipalities. In addition, BrightFeeds cut the ribbon on a new facility, which can process 450 tons per day of organic material into an animal feed supplement. She was excited about this example of innovation, all that is happening in Connecticut, and is thrilled to have this partnership and dialogue with NERC.

Recycling Market Development Strategies
Moderator,Robert Bylone, Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Recycling Market Development Center introduced Kellie Driscoll, Recycling Development Representative for Trex who opened the session with two questions – who uses grocery stores to drop off plastic bags and who does not have an outlet for plastic bags? Trex has established the NexTrex Grassroots Movement, establishing recycling outlets for consumer collection beyond the traditional grocery store drop off by removing hurdles. Who qualifies? Localities, municipalities, counties, cities via solid waste and recycling, universities/colleges, foodbanks, non-profits, business warehouses that do not meet Trex’s commercial criteria, beverage distribution. By becoming a centralized drop off location for recycling polyethylene films, Trex provides rebates for baled recyclable films, upfront financing for a baler or discussion of supplemental backing, transportation is provided at no cost (they come directly to you and take bales back to their Virginia location). In 2021, Trex recycled more than 400 millions pounds of plastic film, they have coordinated 2500+ schools and community recycling programs, and the NexTrex consumer program has a network of approximately 32,000 retail collection partners in the U.S. The steps to becoming a partner are: it is important to have a dedicated baler for successful film collection program, indoor space for a minimum of 20 bales of film, forklift access and dock door, need to know the value in providing access for film recycling in your community, Trex can provide PR to help promote the new initiative. She said that Trex data shows that those who offer consumers film recycling are looked upon favorably.

Next, Susan Bush, Principal of Circular Matters, shared their successful projects. The organization helps clients achieve their sustainable material management and circular economy goals, assisting with EPR framework and policy goal. The key issues facing the industry are Low Value, Margin Materials, Costs to Market, Quality of Supply, Quantity of Supply, Demand Issues and Technology/Expertise. #1: Ridgefield Compost Site, which was transformed from a drop off site to compost site. The challenge was equipment needed, and they needed grants for equipment and donated supplies. Another challenge was how to operate the system; grant money was used for consultant, volunteer expertise and other staff. Program benefits were that it serves as demonstration program, educational component to involve community organization about food waste and reusing it, as well as provide material for the town for erosion control. #2: North Carolina DEQ/GRF Glass Recycling Initiatives. GPI announced desire to have 50% recycled content in glass containers by 2030. The challenge was an inefficient processing infrastructure, and they needed grant for equipment and technical assistance. Another challenge was glass recycling was not available to everyone in the state. Grant money was used to set up alternative collection system and technical assistance. Anticipated benefits include an expected annual increase of at least 300 tons recycled, higher yield rate/value at MRFs with new cleaning equipment, higher quality materials, broader acceptance of glass as a valuable commodity, increased outreach about the importance of recycled glass. #3: Aero Aggregates produces lightweight glass and aggregate products they are able to use glass that would otherwise be disposed of at MRFs. Their challenges were incomplete regulatory and industry knowledge. They needed tools for technical assistance and needed provided introductions. Another challenge was incomplete technical knowledge. Tools included grant money and technical assistance. #4: HydroBlox uses proprietary equipment to manufacture drainage blocks and drainage boards. However, they were finding it costly to scale up; they found financing, but no one wanted to talk to them because they didn’t understand product. They needed tools to address collaboration/connections and research. Benefits included a partnership with Goodwill Industries, consuming 1 million pounds per week of scrap plastic, product addresses stormwater roll off issue and product is reportedly less costly and works better than alternatives. Lessons learned in these cases were that the tools must align with the needs, cash isn’t always king, collaboration is critical, products must ultimately sell themselves, grant requirements to consider: require use of volunteers, matching funds, objectives/how to measure progress, vetted business plans if private entity, education and outreach plan if new material/collection system for public entity.

Resa Dimino, Managing Principal of RRS and SignalFire Group, spoke about recycled content standards saying that the minimum recycled content laws purposes and goals require that manufacturers use a minimum percentage of recycled material in the production of certain products or packaging, usually specified to be postconsumer. It is a proven market development strategy and is effective in supporting the expansion of recycling by stabilizing markets for curbside collected materials. Currently, Maine is a leader as well as California and the west coast. In the past three years, several states have enacted laws, including 2020 – California plastic and glass beverage containers; 2021 – Washington beverage and household cleaning product bottles, reusable plastic checkout bags; 2021 – Colorado paper checkout bags; 2022 – Maine plastic beverage containers; 2022 – New Jersey plastic containers, trash bags, paper checkout bags, glass containers. Recycling is a system, and that minimum content demand only addresses part of that demand. We need supply, public education, infrastructures, etc. and needs to all be flowing in order for system to work. Recycling rates for most platics packaging are low and stagnant. Not just a quantity issue, also a quality issue. Currently, recycling capacity exceeds available supply of plastics. We have the capacity to recycle more material and we have the demand. Market demand does not increase recycling collection. Markets signals do not reach into municipal decision making or into the home. Demand is financially delinked from the supply of recovered materials. End market availability and value does not automatically result in additional collection. There is currently not enough PCS plastic produced at the quality level required to meet industry demand. Achieving corporate and government targets for PCR will require increased supply of PET, HDPE, and PP as well as growth in food grade reclamation capacity. While minimum content policies are effective at driving demand and stabilizing commodity pricing, minimum content standards are not balanced with the quantity and quality of available supply. However, pursuing supply side policies in tandem with minimum content policies will support a robust and stable municipal recycling system.

Increasing the Supply of Post-Consumer Plastics
Moderator Laura Thompson, Director of Technical Marketing and Sustainable Development for GreenBlue introduced the final set of sessions focused on increasing the supply of post-consumer plastics. Association of Plastic Recyclers, Program Director Megan Byers, covered what the association does and who they are. The core members are plastic processers and recyclers; they are the only organization focusing exclusively on plastics recycling. They do training, advocacy, test methods, communication, hold the Recycling Demand Champions, provide resource development, and developed the APR Design Guide for Plastics Recyclability. In a circular economy, it is important to understand that brand companies are their own suppliers. We can’t process material if we are getting a lot of contamination because it will render that package non-recyclable. We need material—plastic recyclers need more supply/end market consistency. Legislative activity is driving demand and it outweighs the supply. Myth – only 8% is being recycled – this is false! Recovery is closer to 80%. Accepted materials are being recycled. Eighty percent of rigid plastic containers and packaging generated in the U.S. is PET, HDPE, PP. In 2020, recycled 4.8 billion pounds was recycled but numbers are not changing as much as they would like them but would like to hold the line. APR would like to see policy and circularity commitments take hold in the coming years. Overseas recycling of plastics in on the decline and there is an overall rise in domestic recovery. What can we do to boost plastics recycling? 5 Keys to success are Design, Sortation, Processing, Markets and Supply. APR Design Guide classifies each design feature for recycling, some features render package entirely non-recycle, some features require testing since it is not known. APR does offer a training program for full onsite and virtual training, full customizable for your company’s needs. The impact of labels is a top priority. APR is publishing new guidelines on a consistent basis, including label styles. There is an increased demand for PCR to almost 140 million pounds. Supply depends on if there is on consumer participation, lack of material, consumer brand requirements, recycling program reduction, mixed market signals, and market consistency. Brand companies have a huge role to play in plastics recycling; product packaging ends and starts with package design. So, how can design and labeling help to meet sustainability ambitions? Ensure all new products and packaging being made today are compatible with recycling, harmonize the types of plastic that are collected in each community program, continue to promote and incentivize use of recycle content, streamline labeling to minimize customer confusion. How can public policy and investment in post-consumer plastics collection and processing help to meet sustainability ambitions? Increase the number of community recycling program, reach diverse and underserved communities, encourage the consideration of the true cost of disposal, and policy must be a driver. Bottom line is recycling works when we all work together across the supply chain.

In the last session of the day (and conference), Marie Anne Champoux-Guimond, Sustainability Manager for Keurig Dr. Pepper Canada and Charles David Mathieu Poulin, Manager of Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations at TC Transcontinental spoke about their work with Canada’s Circular Plastics Taskforce (CPT). This is an organization aimed at helping to build a circular economy for post-consumer plastics in Quebec and Canada. They find a better alignment between end-markets needs for recycled resins and value-chain stakeholders through the ID and implementations of short- and medium-term solutions to optimize plastics recycling. This proved to be a unifying project between governments, sorting facilities, manufacturers, investors, associations, recyclers, retailers, brand owners, equipment, and technology providers. The first phase was the complete mapping of the value chain and optimization proposals, Phase 2 was the pilot project to test and monitor optimization scenarios. During phase 1, they conducted 130+ interviews, found 5 key findings, performed 5 stimulation tests, and created 18 recommendations. They are currently moving into phase two objective and projects – implement industrial-scale solutions to improve the quality of sorted materials as well as the recycling rate of plastics packaging quickly and concretely. More specifically, they will be looking at increasing the capture rate and improving quality measurements at MRFs, secondary sorting process, and production of food-grade PCR resins. They are looking to develop a roadmap aimed at systemizing the process of obtaining food grade certification for recycling resins. Another project is on Value Chain Traceability for Plastics from Curbside Collection. They are assessing the approach, advantages, disadvantages, and compatibility of various traceability systems, measuring their applicability in Quebec and planning a pilot project. Third project is Secondary Sorting or Rigid Plastics – in this project they will work with one of the leading plastic processers in Canada. They will determine whether AI sorting technologies can support the production of food grade recycling PP from residential curbside collection. Third Phase is PS Closed Loop Initiative. The objective is to develop a roadmap to build a complete value chain for food grade recycled Polystyrene. For their Clear PET Theroform Recycling Project, the objective is to demonstrate the technical feasibility of recycling bales containing higher proportions of PET theroform, while maintaining product safety in food applications. The CPT’s Film and Flexible Hub optimizes the capture rates of films and flexibles in MRFs and at recyclers using different sorting technologies, working towards obtaining food grade PCR. Preliminary project overview is a three-pronged approach: 1) Preliminary tests (application of digital watermarks and assessment of ejection rates and bale purity in a controlled environment), 2) Industrial tests (onsite pilot project to test digital watermarking and other technologies to sort films and flexibles in MRFs and at recyclers), and 3) End-markets (analyze outlets for newly created non-PE films and flexible bales). All projects will be up and running by the end of this year and by the spring of 2023. There is still a lot to do, and they are looking forward to partnering and collaborating.

The fall conference wrapped up great discussions and networking opportunities. We look forward to the next one, which will be held virtually, in April!

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