Plastic Recycling Doesn’t Work and Will Never Work

14 Jun

(reprint from The Atlantic)

I though this article was worth a reprint. Our takeaway, when planning your marketing, think multi-use, paper, glass, aluminum, reusable and long lasting promotional item solutions.

Plastic Recycling Doesn’t Work and Will Never Work

If the plastics industry is following the tobacco industry’s playbook, it may never admit to the failure of plastics recycling. By Judith Enck and Jan Dell

About the authors: Judith Enck is a former EPA regional administrator, the president of Beyond Plastics, and a visiting professor at Bennington College. Jan Dell is a chemical engineer and the founder of the Last Beach Cleanup.

Americans support recycling. We do too. But although some materials can be effectively recycled and safely made from recycled content, plastics cannot. Plastic recycling does not work and will never work. The United States in 2021 had a dismal recycling rate of about 5 percent for post-consumer plastic waste, down from a high of 9.5 percent in 2014, when the U.S. exported millions of tons of plastic waste to China and counted it as recycled—even though much of it wasn’t.

Recycling in general can be an effective way to reclaim natural material resources. The U.S.’s high recycling rate of paper, 68 percent, proves this point. The problem with recycling plastic lies not with the concept or process but with the material itself.

The first problem is that there are thousands of different plastics, each with its own composition and characteristics. They all include different chemical additives and colorants that cannot be recycled together, making it impossible to sort the trillions of pieces of plastics into separate types for processing. For example, polyethylene terephthalate (PET#1) bottles cannot be recycled with PET#1 clamshells, which are a different PET#1 material, and green PET#1 bottles cannot be recycled with clear PET#1 bottles (which is why South Korea has outlawed colored PET#1 bottles.) High-density polyethylene (HDPE#2), polyvinyl chloride (PVC#3), low-density polyethylene (LDPE#4), polypropylene (PP#5), and polystyrene (PS#6) all must be separated for recycling.

Just one fast-food meal can involve many different types of single-use plastic, including PET#1, HDPE#2, LDPE#4, PP#5, and PS#6 cups, lids, clamshells, trays, bags, and cutlery, which cannot be recycled together. This is one of several reasons why plastic fast-food service items cannot be legitimately claimed as recyclable in the U.S.

Another problem is that the reprocessing of plastic waste—when possible at all—is wasteful. Plastic is flammable, and the risk of fires at plastic-recycling facilities affects neighboring communities—many of which are located in low-income communities or communities of color.

Unlike metal and glass, plastics are not inert. Plastic products can include toxic additives and absorb chemicals, and are generally collected in curbside bins filled with possibly dangerous materials such as plastic pesticide containers. According to a report published by the Canadian government, toxicity risks in recycled plastic prohibit “the vast majority of plastic products and packaging produced” from being recycled into food-grade packaging.

Yet another problem is that plastic recycling is simply not economical. Recycled plastic costs more than new plastic because collecting, sorting, transporting, and reprocessing plastic waste is exorbitantly expensive. The petrochemical industry is rapidly expanding, which will further lower the cost of new plastic.

Despite this stark failure, the plastics industry has waged a decades-long campaign to perpetuate the myth that the material is recyclable. This campaign is reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s efforts to convince smokers that filtered cigarettes are healthier than unfiltered cigarettes.

Conventional mechanical recycling, in which plastic waste is ground up and melted, has been around for many decades. Now the plastics industry is touting the benefits of so-called chemical recycling— in which plastic waste is broken down using high heat or more chemicals and turned into a low-quality fossil fuel.

In 2018, Dow Chemical claimed that the Renewlogy chemical-recycling plant in Salt Lake City was able to reprocess mixed plastic waste from Boise, Idaho, households through the “Hefty EnergyBag” program and turn it into diesel fuel. As Reuters exposed in a 2021 investigation, however, all the different types of plastic waste contaminated the pyrolysis process. Today, Boise burns its mixed plastic waste in cement kilns, resulting in climate-warming carbon emissions. This well-documented Renewlogy failure has not stopped the plastics industry from continuing to claim that chemical recycling works for “mixed plastics.”

Chemical recycling is not viable. It has failed and will continue to fail for the same down-to-earth, real-world reasons that the conventional mechanical recycling of plastics has consistently failed. Worse yet, its toxic emissions could cause new harm to our environment, climate, and health.

We’re not making a case for despair. Just the opposite. We need the facts so that individuals and policy makers can take concrete action. Proven solutions to the U.S.’s plastic-waste and pollution problems exist and can be quickly replicated across the country. These solutions include enacting bans on single-use plastic bags and unrecyclable single-use plastic food-service products, ensuring widespread access to water-refilling stations, installing dishwashing equipment in schools to allow students to eat food on real dishes rather than single-use plastics, and switching Meals on Wheels and other meal-delivery programs from disposables to reusable dishware.

If the plastics industry is following the tobacco industry’s playbook, it may never admit to the failure of plastics recycling. Although we may not be able to stop them from trying to fool us, we can pass effective laws to make real progress. Single-use-plastic bans reduce waste, save taxpayer money spent on disposal and cleanup, and reduce plastic pollution in the environment.

Consumers can put pressure on companies to stop filling store shelves with single-use plastics by not buying them and instead choosing reusables and products in better packaging. And we should all keep recycling our paper, boxes, cans, and glass, because that actually works.


Judith Enck
 is a former EPA regional administrator, the president of Beyond Plastics, and a visiting professor at Bennington College.

Jan Dell is a chemical engineer and the founder of the Last Beach Cleanup.

If you are interested in product to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

The Future is Green

8 Jun

Atlantis Headwear is making a big push into the sustainable market.

The collection link is to their stock, ready to order headwear, however, Atlantis is best know for their 100% custom headwear designs. Bill, back, buckle, interior, sandwich, webbing, 3-D puff, debossing, PMS color match, etc., really if you can design it Atlantis Headwear can make it. Contact us to learn more about 100% custom designs.

“We walk our sustainable talk. Join us and go green with our 2022 collection, created to support a healthier, more renewable planet”, Atlantis marketing.

Three of their most popular items are show below, and the full collection can be seen at https://atlantisheadwear.us/collection/.

Yes, they are doing that weird thing where they are introducing sustainable products, so the pictures are greens or browns, but take a look that their website. All of the 17 basic models offered come in a variety of colors.

The variety and creativity of Atlantis means you can move your cap game to sustainable solutions, without any sacrifice in style. And, because this is Atlantis, likely a nice jump in quality.

If you are interested in this product to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Letter From Pop Promo

17 May

This flyer showed up in the inbox from Pop Promo today. I would say that Pop Promo’s claim to fame with our office has always been tons of color, and the ability to PMS match everything in their line to exactly the client colors.

However this is a flyer on the continuing expansion of their eco line, so, well, lots of green.

From Pop Promo, “We’ve been hearing from a lot of clients that they’re searching for eco and sustainable branded merch, but having trouble finding products that will still perfectly match their client’s brand. I know it can be hard to have the best of both worlds, but we’ve heard this need and have been working hard to put something together that’ll help you close business! This downloadable flyer features some of my favorite Pop! eco products including our new Recycled Canvas Fanny Pack and Tote, reusable Pop! PacksRPET Pennants, and our popular Dress Socks made from organic cotton!”

If you are interested in this product to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Proud Path from PCNA

26 Apr

PCNA is going all in (nearly) on sustainable, renewable, and climate friendly products available to the promotional products market through their new company wide program called ProudPath.

From the PCNA website, ” Introducing ProudPath™, a new platform that will make it even easier to deliver for your customers’ environmental and social responsibility objectives. Whether you want retail brands that give to great causes, need products made with eco-friendly materials or would like to support a small business, ProudPath™ is designed to empower you with the right solution, making it easier to create gifts people can feel good about. ProudPath™ also represents a call to action for our industry. This is an opportunity to reimagine the present while shaping a future that will make us all proud.”

The program is worth a look. PCNA seems to have organized and centralized those parts of their business related to sustainability. And then add a number of new products, and announced continuing support for a number of environmentally focus organizations, including 1% For the Planet, Well Aware, and ONETREEPLANTED.

Used for bottles and containers, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the most commonly recycled plastic in the world.
Pre-consumer is salvaged from the manufacturing of cotton goods, while post-consumer is from used tees and towels.
Recycled plastic, organic cotton, FSC®-certified bamboo and more. Our eco-friendly products are made with a variety of materials — all of them better for the planet.

Taken as a whole, the ProudPath initiative is rather expansive, especially for a promo company, and certainly worth taking a look at for idea for your next marketing campaign.

If you are interested in this product to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Hardy Eco Jacket

18 Apr

The Hardy Eco Jacket from TRIMARK is a take on the classic uniform/warehouse jacket, using more sustainable materials.

From the manufacturers website, “The stylish, sustainable men’s Hardy Eco Jacket is the perfect transitional jacket. Its breathable fabric and lining are made from recycled polyester, and its zipper and pinch label are also made from recycled content, making it a comfy, eco-friendly piece you can feel good about wearing. It has a water-resistant coating that provides lightweight weather protection, plus upper patch pockets and lower welt pockets to store valuables. Features like one-button cuffs and a dropped back hem help keep cold air out, and a back vent makes it extra breathable for maximum comfort. With style that looks great anywhere, this versatile jacket will become your new favorite for year-round use. And through a partnership with 1% For The Planet, one percent of sales of all Eco products are donated to environmental nonprofits.”

With an outer shell of 53% recycled polyester, and 100% recycled polyester lining, the Hardy Eco Jacket is one of the few, mainstream, sustainable promotional jackets on the market today.

Color options are Bark (brown) or Black, with sizes running small to 3XL.

TRIMARK offers four decoration methods for the Hardy Eco Jacket, apparel embroidery (classic stitched decoration to add color and dimension to a design), apparel laser (a laser is used to etch the artwork into the item), apparel transfer (good for full color, detailed art. Logo is printed on an intermediate and transferred to item), and apparel deboss (logo is stamped into the product using a custom metal die).

It is possible we see virtual and spec layouts for all of these methods, so we suggested sending artwork and letting the TRIMARK inhouse artist help develop the best look to match your marketing needs.

If you are interested in this product to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Sami Lunch and Sami Mini Cooler

4 Apr
Sami Lunch Cooler

These two Sami totes are rather fashionable for their simplicity. Both the Sami Lunch Cooler and the Sami Mini Tote Cooler feature recycled laminated nonwoven material with a fashionably subtle fleck detail. The color options are with blue or green.

I like seeing basic bags like these, that are made with sustainability in mind. It is good for our industry that there are always a range of products and prices to meet our client’s range of projects and budgets.

Sami Mini Tote Cooler

From the GEMLINE website, “The Sami Collection features recycled laminated nonwoven material with a fashionably subtle fleck detail. Wipeable and durable PEVA lining. Hook and loop closure. Front slash pocket. Webbing loop on carry strap”.

The Sami Lunch Cooler holds six standard soda cans (soda cans seems to be our industry’s unit of measure for such things) while the the Sami Mini Cooler will hold 10 cans. Both are made from 100% Recycled Laminated Nonwoven, with a PEVA lining.

Again, this are basic bags, but they certainly have better colors and more style to the older black or gray only recycled non-woven bags of the past.

If you are interested in this product to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Spector 2022 Feels Good Catalog

29 Mar

The Spector 2022 Feels Good Catalog has been published online.

This is a full catalog of the sustainable and recycled products in the Spector line.

Notebooks, drinkware, pens, backpacks, desk item, the Spector 2022 Feels Good Catalog has a little bit of everything.

If you are interested in this product to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Herschel Eco Novel Duffel

22 Mar

PCNA continues to add to their eco line with the new Herschel Eco Novel Duffel.

The Heschel retail line is slowing bring similar products to the promotional products industry. “Founded in 2009 by brothers Jamie and Lyndon Cormack, Herschel Supply Co. adopted the name of the town where three generations of their family grew up. Based in Vancouver, Canada Herschel Supply Co. is a design driven global accessories brand that produces timeless utility products.”

The Herschel Eco Novel Duffel makes it to this page because it is made with 100% Recycled 600D Polyester. “A signature style made sustainable, the Herschel Eco Novel™ Duffle features a removable shoulder strap and Herschel’s signature shoe compartment. Perfect for long days and weekends away, this classic duffle is reimagined with 100% recycled fabrics and industry-leading recycled materials from the liner to the label.”

In addition to the sustainable pedigree, the Herschel Eco Novel Duffel does capture the Herschel goal “to create a timeless product with fine regard for detail”. Which makes this duffel another recycled product that does not “look recycled”.

The Herschel Eco Novel Duffel is a good size overnight bag, with at 11.75in high, 20.5in wide, and 11in deep. The bag can be decorated with Digital Print Transfer or Embroidery, with Digital Print Transfer being the preferred method.

This is a casual, cool bag for business travel, or marketing events like team building. I look forward to seeing more of the Herschel line enter our industry.

If you are interested in this product to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Sustainability Is Here to Stay

15 Mar

{Originally Published by Koozie Group}

The buzzwords are everywhere – go green, eco-conscious, environmentally friendly – and with good reason. A survey conducted ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference revealed that sustainability is an important purchase criterion for 61% of US consumers, with more than a third of people willing to pay a premium for such products or services. (1) Generation Z and Millennials are leading the charge, and what may have been just trendy practices several years ago are quickly becoming the norm.

The promo products industry needs to take note. A 2020 survey reported that 46% of recipients have a more favorable opinion of an advertiser who gives them environmentally friendly swag. (2)  How do you help your customers choose the right product? There are no clear-cut rules about what constitutes a “sustainable” product, and items with a green stance can fall into several buckets. Using the tried-and-true framework of the 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – provides one way to explore Earth-friendly features of some common promotional products.

Reduce

Reducing environmental impact is one key component of sustainability. There are several ways to achieve this goal, including choosing products made of raw materials that have a smaller eco-footprint.

The Cork Yoga Mat Item #41207 provides a cushiony and nonslip surface for doing daily downward dogs.

Some raw materials are inherently “green.” Take cork, for example, which comes from the bark of the cork oak tree. Harvesting does not harm the tree, and actually allows it to absorb more carbon dioxide. Cork forests are biodiverse places, providing a home to more species per square meter than even the Amazon rainforest. Add in the fact that almost all cork items can be recycled, and this durable material rates near the top on the sustainability scale. (3) Other good contenders for low-impact natural components include jute and bamboo.

Sometimes it’s not the raw material itself but the way it’s processed that raises environmental concerns. Paper, for example, is made from a renewable source. However, harvesting practices can make its production unsustainable. In these cases, it’s not uncommon for independent organizations to step in and administer a certification process that identifies responsibly produced materials. With the legwork done, buyers can be assured that an item and/or its components were produced in a responsible way. 

Certification from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) or Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) is the gold standard in the forestry industry. Three Koozie Group facilities earned these designations in 2021, and we’ve upgraded to either SFI®- or FSC®-certified source stock paper in most of our calendars along with our Souvenir® Sticky Note™ pads and Souvenir® scratch pad products. It’s our way of making sure it’s easy to find products with a recognized sustainability stance.

Reuse

Another simple way to reduce consumption and waste is to replace disposable products with a reusable equivalent. Some longstanding best sellers in the promo industry check this box. It’s worth pointing out their potential benefits to customers who are searching for eco-friendly choices.

Drinkware

Americans use an estimated 120 billion disposable cups every year, and most single-use cups are made of hard-to-recycle materials. One person using a reusable mug or tumbler for a year’s worth of morning joe could save up to 281 gallons of water, 16 pounds of solid waste, and 1 tree from being chopped down. (4) If end users need further convincing, tumblers with double-wall insulation will keep both hot and cold brews at just the right temperature for hours. That’s a win-win solution.

Drinkware Case Study

A local coffee shop wanted to phase out the use of disposable cups. They purchased the Koozie® Triple Vacuum Tumbler in both the 13 oz. and 16 oz. sizes to add to their retail offerings. Customers received 50¢ off their order every time they brought in their Triple; loaner tumblers were available, with a deposit, for when customers showed up empty-handed. By placing messaging about the environmental impact of single-use cups around the store, participation in the program steadily grew. The coffeehouse now has a goal of eliminating all disposables by the end of the year.

As a side benefit, customers fell in love with the versatility of the Koozie® Triple Vacuum Tumbler. They loved its 3-in-1 design, which means it can function as a cup, tumbler, or bottle/can cooler. Word got around, and the coffee shop saw sales of the tumbler to non-regulars grow by 20%.

Bags

On average, a single American uses one plastic bag each day of the year. This habit has several devastating effects on the environment. In fact, experts predict that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 without changes to current behavior. (5)

Jute Grocery Tote Item #15655
Make a trip to the grocery store or farmers market easier with this tote that features shoulder-length cotton handles.

Before the pandemic, a growing number of states and municipalities were passing bans on single-use plastic bags. Some of those efforts were put on hold over the past two years, but action around eliminating throwaway bags is heating up again. (6) These laws are likely to spur additional demand for reusable bags both as promotional merch and giveaways. Taking it one step further, choosing totes and market-sized coolers made of either natural fibers or recycled materials can up the sustainability factor.

Recycle

The word recycle resonates with many consumers looking to lessen their environmental impact. When it comes to paper, recycling has been around for longer than one might realize. The first paper mill in the United States opened in 1690 and used recycled linen and cotton rags in its production process. (7) Today, paper is one of the most recycled materials, with experts estimating that consumers recycle up to 70% of this everyday commodity. (8)

goingreen™ 5″ x 7″ Notebook Item #15940
Both the cover and pages of this handy journal include a minimum of 30% recycled material.

Two types of recycled paper fiber make it into new products. Pre-consumer materials are by-products of the manufacturing process but never reach an end user. Post-consumer content comes from materials collected from office and curbside recycling programs. From a sustainability standpoint, paper that contains post-consumer content is the preferred choice.

Newer to the recycled material scene is recycled PET (RPET). A growing number of companies, including iconic brands like Converse, now use this material to craft everything from high tops to swimwear to tees. The polyester fabric, made from recycled plastic containers, is equivalent in quality to polyester made from virgin material and takes 59% less energy to create. (9) A growing number of promotional products made from RPET are hitting the market, including these bags, coolers, tech gear, and writing instruments in the Koozie Group lineup. 

KAPSTON® Willow Recycled Backpack Item # 16193
Made from 71% post-consumer RPET 600D polyester that contains the equivalent of 17 (14 oz.) water bottles, this stylish backpack has a spot for all your daily essentials.

It’s time to plan your strategy for bringing eco-conscious products to your customers. Use Earth Day (April 22) to get the conversation started; then, head on over to kooziegroup.com and use the 3 Rs to find the perfect products to lessen your environmental impact.

If you are interested in this product to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

Wheat with Memory

8 Mar

Here is a quick case study sent to us by iClick on their Wheat Straw swivel drive.

“Activation: Grow Organics is a small, family-owned business that creates organic and locally sourced baby foods in their home state of Washington. They started out selling primarily at farmer’s markets but they were very interested in expanding into brick and mortar stores.

They had been using catalogs to showcase their offerings, but they wanted a less wasteful option to spread the word even more. They felt physical catalogs did not align with their company values of sustainability, but they still liked the idea of handing something out in meetings.

The iClick – Wheat Straw allowed them to hand out digital copies of their catalog. The item itself is eco-friendly, being made out of wheat straw, a byproduct of wheat production. Plus, they know the iClick – Wheat Straw can be reused in the future and will not be tossed in the trash. This led to more brand recognition, a giveaway that really aligned with their company values, and a partnership with a major supermarket chain.”

If you are interested in this product to promote your own business, or if you wish to see some samples, email info@proformagreen.com for information and pricing.

And as always, if you really want to do something sustainable, do not buy promotional products. All products are consumption at one level or another. So if you must buy, 1) Buy local (i.e. made in USA), 2) Buy useful, long lasting items, 3) Buy sustainable/recycled/recyclable products if possible.

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