2020 recycling update

Dig Deeper articles share highlights and source links from recent reporting. Topics for this series focus on the environment, workplace wellness, sustainability, and smart technologies.

Curbside program changes

Curbside recycling

An online tool at WasteDive.com reports the how China’s several restrictions on scrap imports have impacted each state. After a state is selected from a drop-down list, bulleted items list the curbside program impacts at the county and city level. For many states, further bullets of information describe solutions that have implemented.

Each item in the often-extensive lists includes one or more links to articles on WasteDive.com or external news websites.

Bans on single-use plastics

Plastic waste

For more than a decade, China has prohibited retailers from giving away plastic bags. EcoWatch.com reports that by the end of this year, China will not allow any plastic bag use in their major cities. By 2022, plastic bags will be banned throughout China.

Proposed laws in California would significantly limit single-use plastic while promoting the manufacture of recyclable and compostable plastics. The laws are described in an article at TheGuardian.com which also notes that 26.8 million tons of plastic went to landfills in 2017. That’s 19.2% of all waste at landfills. Similar U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) statistics provide a nationwide perspective. Similar U. S. Environmental Protection Agency statistics document the manufacture of 35.4 million tons of plastics that year.

Should bioplastics be recycled?

Bioplastics Research Center

A recent ArsTechnica.com article discusses advantages and limitations of recycling or composting these five types of bioplastics:

  • Polylactic Acid (PLA) – Made from fermented plant starches, PLA is widely used in drink cups and is described as “compostable in industrial facilities.”
  • Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) – Although significantly more expensive to produce, PHP can be used in plastics that break down to CO2, water, and organic biomass.
  • Polybutylene Succinate (PBS) – A possible replacement for single-use propylene bags, PBS creates its own risks for the environment. Producing the chemical generates significant quantities of greenhouse gases.
  • Hemp – Related to Cannabis sativa but non-intoxicating, hemp has been legal in the U.S. since 2018. Under certain conditions, certain hemp plastics break down into vegetable material.
  • Lignin – A byproduct of paper manufacturing, Lignin can be made into many forms of plastic, and is a low-cost material for 3D printing, adhesives, and can reinforce other bioplastics.

If you have a written or seen an article to feature in a future edition of Dig Deeper, please leave a note on this website’s Contact page. Thank you!

Alexa Stone
LEED AP, Sustainable Facility Professional, Envision Sustainability Professional - - Alexa has more than 25 years of experience in sustainable and Smart Cities development. Her strategic planning work has served local, state, and federal government, higher education, and private industry. Alexa founded ecoPreserve in 2009 as a team of 3 and has grown the company to over a dozen of the brightest sustainability and project management professionals in the industry.
Alexa Stone

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We empower organizations to reduce environmental impact, improve efficiency, and improve quality of life.
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Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.