Many people have a love or hate relationship with recycling. Some argue that they’ve been recycling for years and they notice no difference so it’s a pain to sort their waste. Others see the value that recycling can bring to their communities. The good news is, the future of recycling addresses the needs of everyone.
Whatever way you feel about the recycling industry as a whole today may change later. In this blog, CleanRiver recycling solutions will be covering 4 recycling trends that we’re likely to see happen within the next 5 years or so. Some of these trends were researched, whereas others came from our experience as one of the leading recycling solutions experts in North America for the past 30+ years.
Let’s see what recycling may look like in 2022 and beyond…
1. More Recyclable Plastics
This may be a welcome sign seeing as recent reports from scientists have found that “The total mass of plastics now exceeds the total mass of all living mammals”. In the past, only certain plastics were easily recycled. Commercial recycling plants have the ability to break down and reuse PET and HDPE plastics, but other plastics such as styrofoam have been much harder to recycle.
With the ongoing success of PureCycle technology developed by John Layman, new innovations in plastic recycling are becoming a reality. Imagine a recycling program that has the ability to collect and recycle all the different types of residential plastics. The future is here!
2. Advanced City Recycling Programs
Speaking of recycling programs, the growing trends of environmentally sustainable practices in cities is paving the way for new innovations to existing recycling programs. Here at CleanRiver, we have been providing commercial recycling programs to many different industries for the past 30+ years. When working with clients, there has been a noticeable increase in business partners that have extensive knowledge of how recycling programs work and how they can be improved. That’s good news for us because it makes our job a little easier, but it’s also good news for society. Local municipalities are now finding new ways to fund and supplement their recycling operations. The advent of online fundraising platforms is making it much easier to directly engage with community members to improve facilities to accommodate citizens’ recycling needs.
This will also create new jobs within the community, which will improve employment rates.
3. Improvements to Recycling Facilities
It does not matter if the material is recyclable, sometimes it just can not be reused. Recycling facilities simply do not have the ability to process contaminated recyclables. The previously mentioned PureCycle technology aims to separate and clean contaminants off of recyclable materials.
But what if the current recyclable material indicators were improved to assist recycling facilities in differentiating products. The ineffective numbered recycling symbols of yesteryear were what consumers and recycling facilities workers alike had to go off of to determine what can and can not be recycled. Current advancements in radio frequency identification technology (RFID) will be able to combat contamination AND confusion.
Instead of packaging having those useless recycling symbols on the labels, there will now be tiny affordable RFID circuits embedded into the product packaging. This will allow manufacturers to do more than label what the product is made out of. The RFID chip will also allow them to include vital information like how to recycle a particular product, in a particular municipality. Amazing!
4. Rethinking the Linear Manufacturing Process
Circular economies are all the rage these days, especially after covid added extra strain on sourcing raw materials and manufacturing new products. The hard part is making it a reality. Countries like Cuba have been forced into circular economy situations out of necessity (those 1950s cars would be long gone without trade sanctions). But this linear make-use-dispose model on which our society was built needs to be tossed in the metaphorical commercial recycling bin.
This is good news for those who are lamenting the “planned obsolescence” trend many manufacturers embraced in order to sell more products. Pretty soon they’ll be forced to make things last because the way we burn or bury trash today is on the way out.
The recycling industry is likely to evolve into something even bigger called the “reprocessing industry” instead. Garbage trucks will no longer be solely used to dump waste into landfills, they will also be used to return valuable resources found in our trash back to manufacturers.
Similarly, manufacturers and designers themselves will have to rethink the way they view raw materials. Pretty soon, recycled materials will be viewed the same way as our current “raw” materials are viewed due to scarcity and necessity. The age of abundance is coming to a close. Sustainable practices will become the new normal.
This may require some assistance from responsible retailers, but its’ not just businesses that need to change. Consumers also need to re-evaluate their current views on waste collection.
An easy place to start is with the type of commercial trash cans we use. CleanRiver’s commercial recycling bins are made from recycled HDPE and are designed with the future in mind. Browse our product page to find a bin that’s right for you!
Looking for more recycling information? Check out these other blogs:
CleanRiver Recycling provides a variety of innovative, flexible, and customizable recycling solutions. Start saving money today with our green recycling programs.
If you have additional questions that weren’t answered in this blog post please call us at 1-866-479-4038 or email [email protected]