Waste Management Tag

25 Jun 2009 Propane Powered Lawn Trimmer and Sears Fall Short in Green Effort

Recently on this blog we published a post applauding mega retailer Home Depot for going above and beyond in their garden department by making it easy for their customers to return their empty polystyrene floral containers. They could have decided their responsibility ended at the cash register but opted to assume some level of responsibility after the sale. If we praise effort like Home Depot’s, we also have to condemn a retailer like Sears who is most definitely guilty of promoting a product for its green benefits; in this case a zero emission, propane powered lawn trimmer, and failing to assume the post sale responsibility that is certainly theirs.

Are Propane Powered Garden Tools Really Green?

[caption id="attachment_564" align="alignright" width="225" caption="The Green Product"]The Green Product[/caption]For my Father’s Day gift, my wife and I went shopping for a propane powered weed trimmer/cutter. I personally dislike the fumes and trouble of a gas powered weed whacker, and have grown to dislike my electric and battery powered units as well. I realize $200 for a propane model is a lot of money at times like this, especially when you can buy an inexpensive electric version for as little as $39.00. However, I decided that the eco benefits would make it worth the higher initial cost. The problems really started when I realized the propane fuel tanks my new trimmer would use are not refillable. So I asked a friendly Sears employee about recycling and disposal. The propane tanks are metal so if not refillable, certainly they have to be recyclable, right? The minimal information provided indicated each tank lasts approximately two hours so it did not take a mathematician or landscaper to determine I was likely to create an empty cylinder every other week or ten to twelve cylinders over the course of a single Chicago summer. I was surprised when the man offering “trained Sears’s assistance” said he had no idea about disposal or recycling. I guess that was not covered in sales training class.

The Search for Information and Eco Truth

[caption id="attachment_565" align="alignright" width="225" caption="The Green Pitch"]The Green Pitch[/caption]We bought the trimmer and the next morning I called our local waste hauler, Waste Management, and asked about the recycling of the empty propane tanks, in hope recycling could be accomplished curbside. They promptly responded they did not want them and have always instructed their people to not collect them. Recalling we do business with a company for propane for our fork lift, I thought they might have some answers. They were kind enough to tell me that they would accept one or two empty tanks but did not want to be a collection point since the small, empty canisters I was eager to get rid of had no value, only cost to them. I turned to our local village for assistance and they quickly sent me to a county department in charge of hazardous waste. The lady who answered the phone immediately understood the problem and told me I was the fourth call that day on the same topic. She admitted her family used a similar propane cylinder for cooking while camping but told me they (county government) could not accept the cylinders because they were not considered hazardous. “What do you do with yours?” I naively asked. “I bury and hide them in my kitchen garbage bags” she replied, “Otherwise our waste hauler won’t take them.”
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09 Jun 2009 Home Depot Wins Mid Year Globe Guard Eco Consistency Award

In an unprecedented move, the Globe Guard Eco Consistency Award judges held a first ever midyear caucus and by unanimous vote decided to give Home Depot this prestigious award. OK, that all sounds quite impressive but the fact is that my wife took me shopping for the seasonal purchase of flowers for her garden and I spotted this sign. home-depot-plsatics-recycling-program That is when I realized Home Depot has launched an excellent, green program to encourage and facilitate the return of the empty flower containers they now sell. Polystyrene - The Plastic Even Waste Management Doesn’t Want What makes this move by Home Depot award worthy is that most flower pot containers are made of polystyrene (Recycled code #6). Most of us know polystyrene as the foam looking plastic material often used for takeout or left over containers, some “foam” drinking cups and some loose fill packaging materials shaped like shells or peanuts. That happens to be reason #42 why I hate foam peanuts, but that is a sore subject and a different blog post. I am not sure why most floral containers are made of styrene but I am willing to bet it is about cost. Polystyrene can easily be blended with just about any plastic or near plastic trash and is able to be formed into the trays and pots we all take home, empty and discard. What I am certain of is that in our suburban Chicago curbside recycling service provided by Waste Management, is very clear to point out they will NOT take back anything with a #6 recycled code which includes any form or type of polystyrene.
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19 Mar 2009 Sustainable Packaging – When Waste Makes Sense

environmental_conservation_symbolIt probably sounds strange coming from us because we are so outspoken critics of waste and we encourage using less whenever possible. However, the first objective of being a sustainable (green) business is to be a sustainable (viable) business. At times like this, saving money is a necessary objective for financial and even practical reasons. It does not help the green cause if a eco minded business goes broke because it failed to reduce costs whenever possible, without compromising their green values. Last week I received a call from a company that uses four different size plastic slip sheets as inter-leavers during their manufacturing and in plant material handling. The sheets are placed between products to prevent abrasion but are removed and discarded when the product is packed into individual boxes. Their goal was to be as green as possible and ideally to reduce the cost of these, single use disposable sheets. Application Analysis After a review of the use, customer expectations, etc., we discovered an important piece of information. To avoid dimensions, let’s say they use a “small” sheet, a slightly larger “medium”, a substantially oversized, “large” sheet and an even a slightly larger “extra large”. Four sizes and the relatively small volume on each are almost identical. We also determined that for no good apparent reason, they were using a high quality, high clarity, food grade, low density polyethylene virgin resin formulation.
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26 Jun 2008 What Happens to Our Recycled Stuff?

Ever wonder what happens to your aluminum cans, food containers, corrugated boxes, and other recyclables after they are picked up at the curb? We did, and not long ago got a tour of Waste Management's recylcing facility on Chicago's South Side. This facility happens to be one of the largest in the country. Here's an inside look. Recycled materials are delivered in a transfer trailer --
recycled materials transfer trailer
Unsorted materials are dumped into a big pile, which looks surprisingly neat --
incoming recycled materials
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