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Monday, February 18, 2008

Moving Supplies Our Land Fills

It's a vicious circle. The more we recycle the more waste we seem to create. Certainly the moving populations of the US add to the cycle of waste with all of our moving boxes and supplies being used once, maybe twice, before heading off to the nearest landfill. How can we get a head of our waste by truly recycling it?

The out-dated chart provided by Biocycle, shows the waste per person hovers around 1 ton. One ton, that is 2240 lbs. To put it into context, I believe the classic VW Bug weighed about 2,600 lbs. Imagine if China and India produced the same amount per person. With the US population nearing 305 MM consumers we are the mere fraction of China's total head count of 1.3 BN with India close behind at 1.1 BN. The world is 6.6 BN. The two largest countries contain 36% of the people and scores of these folks are just getting the opportunity to live like the developed west which means highly developed waste - yikes.

At one ton of trash per person in the US, it's a wonder we can (safely?) dispose of our waste fast enough, and out of sight.

"Necessity is the mother of all invention"

Recently launched, the guys at haven't come up with an invention but a process for what I think is the most revolutionary process of recycling moving supplies. I am sure their methods will inspire other industries to take a second look at what they are tossing each day. BoxQuest applauds for truly recycling our trash. We can all learn from these guys! Listen in...


Data source: BIOCYCLE / Table & Conversion: ZWA

Survey of Previous
Generated (tons)
Increase Percentage
Tons Disposed
Per Person
1990 246,819,230 269,000,000 --------- 8% 247,480,000 1.002
1991 249,439,545 293,613,000 +24,613,000 11.5% 259,847,000 1.041
1992 252,124,362 280,675,000 -12,938,000 14% 241,380,000 0.957
1993 255,001,827 291,742,000 +11,067,000 17% 242,146,000 0.949
1994 257,752,702 306,866,000 +15,124,000 19% 248,561,000 0.964
1995 260,292,437 322,879,000 +16,013,000 23% 248,617,000 0.955
1996 262,760,639 326,709,000 +3,830,000 27% 238,498,000 0.907
1997 265,179,411 327,460,000 +1,751,000 28% 235,771,000 0.890
1998 267,636,061 340,466,000 +13,006,000 30% 238,326,000 0.890
1999 272,690,813 374,631,000 +34,165,000 31.5% 267,108,215 0.979
2000 280,000,000
382,594,000 +7,963,000 33% 256,338,000 0.661
2001 286,345,000 409,029,000 +26,435,000 32% 278,139,720 0.979

Paper and paperboard products include items you use every day—newspapers, food packaging, tissues, cardboard boxes, office paper, and paper plates. In fact, paper and paperboard products constitute the largest portion of municipal solid waste (MSW). As the greatest portion of the waste stream, paper also offers the greatest opportunity for recycling. Today, consumers buy recycled paper in newspapers, food packages, and office paper—some containing as much as 100 percent recycled fiber. Other uses of recovered paper include insulation, gypsum wallboard, fertilizer bags, and mulch.

Just the Facts
  • At about 36 percent, paper and paperboard products constitute the largest portion of the MSW stream.
  • Americans generated nearly 82 million tons of paper products in the MSW stream in 2001, nearly a three-fold increase from 1960.
  • About 45 percent of all paper and paperboard products in MSW were recovered in 2001, nearly two-and-a-half times the percentage recovered in 1960.
  • Recycling rates (2001):
    • Corrugated Boxes: 70 percent
    • Newspapers: 60 percent
    • Office Paper: 55 percent
    • Magazines: 32 percent
    • Telephone Directories: 15 percent
Paper Making and Recycling

To make paper, a paper mill loads debarked and chipped wood into a large tank called a digester. The digester pressure cooks the chipped wood with water and a mixture of chemicals. The chips then stew in a chemical mix under pressure. The resulting pulp is washed, refined, and cleaned. In a separate process, the mill mixes shredded recycled paper with water, then cooks and cleans the mixture to create pulp. The paper mill blends in a certain percentage of pulp from recycled paper, depending on the desired characteristics of the finished product.

Paper reprocessors are very selective about the materials they use to make recycled-content products. High-grade papers like white office paper have long fibers, while low-grade papers like mixed paper have shorter fibers. Processors cannot mix low-grade papers with high-grade papers if they want to manufacture high-grade recycled-content white office paper. In the field of paper and paperboard recycling, the most preferable form of recycling is "first-tier" recycling, such as using recovered newspapers to make new newsprint. Therefore, paper mills commonly seek single-grade recycled paper. Corrugated cardboard, newspapers, and office papers are the most common single-grade waste streams (i.e., no other paper is mixed in, making it easier to "close the loop").


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