Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cross Country Running MEETS Paper Cup Recycling

http://www.globalgreen.org/press/6z4t8zhji49az9pdnach5763ucgz6qThe Portage Invitational, hosted in Portage, Michigan, is the largest cross country (XC) meet held in the US.  This year's October 10th meet will see upwards of 7000 runners from middle schools and high schools throughout Michigan.  Also included in the invite is the Glory Days XC5k, a race that allows former school athletes to "relive the excitement of their high school running days".

Thanks to a pilot project to be implemented by non-profit organization Global Green USA's Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) program and its members, all of the little cups handed to runners along the trail will not see a finish line at the landfill this year!  Instead, recyclable cups will be used; the use, collection, and recycling of which will be coordinated directly by Global Green.  The cups will be recycled at a paper mill located in Kalamazoo, MI, and their "successful recovery and recycling will represent a key step in identifying best systems for keeping valuable paper fiber in the market as high-quality products, and out of landfill" (Official Press Release, below).  

Since I just started an MBA program, we'll put a little "cost-benefit analysis a la social opportunity" spin on it: The benefits provided by these paper cups (hydration and sustained performance of the athletes) will not be outweighed by very large potential environmental costs -- wasted resources and tons of material going straight to landfill.  And we love that.  

For more detailed information about the pilot and the players involved, the complete press release is below.

Official Press Release:

Largest Cross Country Meet in the U.S. Partners with Global Green USA
to Pilot Paper Cup Recycling Initiative; Reduce CO2 Emissions

September 1, 2015 (Los Angeles, CA) — Santa Monica-based, national environmental non-profit Global Green USA is teaming up with the largest cross country meet in the United States, the Portage Invite in Portage, Michigan, to put recyclable paper cups to the test, both for performance and for recyclability at a local paper mill. Using cups developed by Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) member LBP Manufacturing that have passed a recyclability protocol developed by CoRR member Western Michigan University(WMU), Global Green USA will coordinate their use, collection and recycling at a paper mill in Kalamazoo, MI operated by Graphic Packaging. The successful recovery and recycling of these cups will represent a key step in identifying best systems for keeping valuable paper fiber in the market as high-quality products, and out of landfills.

Unlike many other paper sources, such as newsprint and magazines, foodservice packaging is a growing stream but seldom recovered for recycling. According to the EPA, 5.6 million tons of food service packaging is landfilled in the US each year, releasing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to six coal-fired power plants. Since 2009, Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) program has been working to divert these valuable materials into new products.

 “Global Green is committed to helping recover commonly landfilled waste streams, including paper cups and other coated packaging items,” said Lily Kelly, Senior Program Associate at Global Green USA and the project lead.  “When packaging is designed to be recovered, it is a major environmental and financial win. Demonstrating that these cups, which have passed WMU’s recyclability protocol, can be recovered at a full-scale paper mill can build confidence in their potential as a paper input, ease pressure on our forests, and prevent greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Portage Invite organizers are enthusiastic about the prospect of recovering the 10,000 cups used at each event. “A lot of the athletes competing at the Portage Invite care about their health and the health of our environment,” said Matt Swanson, the Portage Northern High School Cross Country and Track & Field Coach and one of the organizers of the race. “We want to see these cups recovered, and we want them to get turned into new paper if at all possible.” Other road races across the country have echoed these sentiments, stating that they are eager to work with Global Green USA on future pilots, and with their local haulers and mills, to ensure that their cups are recovered.

Paper mills that serve the regions near the road races are likewise interested in determining whether the cup items will prove a good source of fiber. “We’re eager to get new supplies of recycled domestic feedstock and support the paper industry in the US,” said Mike Farrell, Vice President - Recycled Mill Division for Graphic Packaging International, whose mill will be accepting the cups. “Recycling cups can be challenging, and we believe these pilots can demonstrate that cups that are designed for recyclability can be brought to our paper mill. We’re glad to work with Global Green USA and road races on this important initiative.”

CoRR member LBP Manufacturing donated the cups, which are commercially available and designed with sustainability in mind, for the race event. “Our goal is to show that it is possible to make high-quality, effective cups that are also designed for recovery at recycled paper mills,” said Thomas Fu, their Vice President of Global Innovation. “We are excited to provide these cups, and participate in pilots that can build the system for their recovery, so that brand owners and customers alike can know they can dispose of these cups responsibly. It’s good business, and good for the planet.”

Global Green USA is dedicated to helping the people, places, and the planet in need through catalytic projects, transformative policy, and cutting-edge research. Global Green USA's signature programs include greening affordable housing, schools, neighborhoods, and cities as well as rebuilding communities -- such as New Orleans and areas of New York and New Jersey -- that have suffered from the impacts of climate change, sea level rise, and environmental degradation. For more than 6 years, Global Green has operated the CoRR program to pioneer waste reduction strategies in cities. For more information, visit globalgreen.org and follow us @globalgreen.

For press inquiries, please contact Lily Kelly, Senior Program Associate, Coalition for Resource Recovery, at lkelly@globalgreen.org or 415-697-0399

monica rowand