Sustainable Lawrence

Living Local Expo Sat 3/28


The latest updates on the expo are available at

2015 EXPO

BioCycle: Residential food collections grew by 8% in 2014

According to research conducted by BioCycle, a national composting publication, 198 municipalities across the nation offer residential food waste collections.

The number is up about 8.2% compared to 2012 figures (BioCycle pegs the figure as “almost 9 percent”), when it was reported that 183 cities made curbside organics collections available to residents.
The largest segment of the population that recycles resides in the Western region of the U.S., and of the approximately 2.74 million households that recycle, nearly half are in California.

Other states where food recycling is faring well include Texas, New York, and Ohio. In these states, approximately 200,000 households are regularly recycling organics through curbside collection programs. Food waste collection is offered to a significant amount of residential customers in Oregon and Washington.

The U.S. diverts less than 5% of food waste generated by residents. Advocates conclude that finding solutions to divert food scraps could boost stagnating diversion rates across the U.S.

Source: Waste Dive

MD issues executive order to increase recycling, raise diversion rate

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) has issued an executive order to increase recycling, reuse, waste diversion, and composting across the state. The order is effective immediately.

The order will also limit new or expanded municipal landfills, including debris landfills that accept materials from land clearing.

The order highlights Maryland’s ambitious goal of reaching 85% waste diversion and an 80% recycling rate by 2040. The state government must hit a mandatory recycling rate of 65% by 2020, and is expected to divert a minimum of 60% of its organic waste using recycling, composting, and anaerobic digestion by that year.

Maryland’s “Zero Waste Plan” was issued in 2014, with a focus on the role that anaerobic digesters can play in order to help attain the state’s goals.

Source: Waste Dive

The State of Composting in the US: What, Why, Where, How

state of composting

A report published in 2014 summarizes what’s going on in the US with respect to organic waste recycling.  An article in Biocycle magazine provides a nice overview.

Lawrence Twp Curbside Organic Waste Pickup to start March 1

The Township’s curbside organic waste pickup program is slated to begin March 1, 2015. More details will be made available soon!

Toothpaste tube recycling gets a major boost

This is pretty cool  – “Researchers turn old toothpaste tubes into aluminum an fuel.” Read more about it here.

Infographic: Plastics

A great summary of the issues with plastics can be found here.



Philadelphia moves closer to city-wide pickup of organic waste

This article provides some details on alternate locations for organic waste, now that the facility in Delaware has shut down….

“[In November 2014] two Philadelphia City Council committees held a hearing on food waste composting, exploring how the city could get into the action… Food scraps are seen as the next frontier for waste reduction. Philadelphia’s curbside recycling rate for bottles, cans, paper, and similar materials has nearly topped out. Since food waste is about 24 percent of the household waste stream, that’s an obvious next step, many say.

The committee heard from operations small and large…Their message: It can be done. It also can create jobs and save the city money. For a city that aims to be the greenest in the nation, it would help the environment by reducing methane gas from landfills and by creating lush soils for city gardens.”


Towards a Circular Economy

According to a 2013 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (available here), globally 207 million tons of packaging (worth $384 billion) cover consumer goods annually.

A New Paradigm

In the introduction, the report’s authors write that “A new term has emerged in recent years to describe our modern era—the Anthropocene. It rightly implies that in this age humans became the dominant force shaping our physical environment. It is evident that an economy that extracts resources at increasing rates without consideration for the environment in which it operates, without consideration for our natural planetary boundaries, cannot continue indefinitely. In a world of soon to be 9 billion consumers who are actively buying manufactured goods, this approach will hamper companies and undermine economies. We need a new way of doing business.

 A Brighter Future

The concept of a circular economy promises a way out. Here products do not quickly become waste, but are reused to extract their maximum value before safely and productively returning to the biosphere. Most importantly for business leaders, such an economy can deliver growth. Innovative product designers and business leaders are already venturing into this space.”



It is disappointing that the majority of voters yesterday could not see the importance of allowing the “plastic bag” conversation to advance to the next level. I think most people are scared by the idea that this could signify just another tax for the residents and not a real measure for curtailing the use of those disposable “single use bags”.

The reality is that we are delaying the conversation and allowing the problem to grow exponentially. We are letting our fears stop us from entering into a real dialogue with the merchants and manufacturers, and taking concrete steps to stop producing this wasteful product.

I can only conclude that voters yesterday allowed the scare of the “tax” word to influence their thinking, while the reality is that by not sending this clear message, we are in fact agreeing to continue to carry the higher expense of dealing with 8.8 billion of these bags polluting our streams, trees, parks, streets and homes every year. Let’s not ignore that it is us, the residents, through our existing taxes, donations, volunteer time and money, that actually carry the burden of cleaning out these bags, recycling them and dealing with the health consequences.

We need to continue this conversation. We need to continue to educate and further facilitate changes in behavior in our community. Sustainable Lawrence is committed to facilitating this process through effective community programs that aim to educate not only the intellect, but the underlying values upon which we base our actions. We are confident that when we understand the problem, we will take action to stop carrying and paying for the real burden of the waste these bags produce and the extended consequences of polluting our own habitat.

What do you think?

Back to Top