Alan Robbins is betting everything he owns that the world will pay more for picnic tables, mailbox posts, and speed bumps if they’re made from recycled plastics
Yes, he’s heard the career advice line from The Graduate. (“I just want to say one word to you: plastics.”)
You see, if you’re Alan E. Robbins, 43, a sense of humor comes in handy.
You need one, given what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Robbins, a charming father of five, wants to make wood obsolete. Maybe concrete, too.
It’s not quite as silly as it sounds.
Robbins is president of a company, which takes recycled plastics — milk jugs are a primary source of raw material — and turns them into everything from mailbox posts, picnic tables, and speed bumps to retaining walls at Sea World. In many areas in the country, especially the Wrightwood and areas near by, recycling has become much more popular.
And no doubt there’s a desperate need for someone to do something with what the industry calls post-consumer (used) plastics. Recycled plastic materials are in demand.
With Americans producing 160 million tons of solid waste a year — that’s better than three pounds per person per day — landfills are beginning to overflow. And while plastics account for only 7% of those garbage heaps by weight, they make up 13% of their volume. Anything, even a mailbox post, that can reduce that amount of trash is something to be wished for.
Wrightwood Plastic Information and TrainingWhen You Don’t Recycle Plastic, This is Where It Ends Up
We’ve all been told that we should recycle plastic bottles and containers. But do you know why it’s important? Here’s a video by Emma Bryce that explains the journey of 3 plastic bottles and where they end up.
The next time you decide to throw away plastic waste, hopefully you’ll remember why it’s important to recycle.
Do-It-Yourself: Plastic Molding
Byline: RECYCLING By Sarah Grimm For The Register-Guard
Over the last 30 years, the recycling industry has grown up to become a complex and successful economic engine on the world market.
According to a federal Environmental Protection Agency study, more than 56,000 recycling and reuse businesses nationwide employ approximately 1.1 million people, generate an annual payroll of $37 billion, and gross $236 billion in annual revenue.
The report also shows the number of jobs in recycling is comparable to the automobile and truck manufacturing industry and significantly larger than the mining and waste management industries. Wages are generally higher than the national industrial average.
As the recycling industry has grown, so too has the complexity of issues surrounding solid waste management.
It used to be that bundling your newspaper and sorting your cans and bottles, and then schlepping them to the nearest collection depot was the ultimate, the end-all, definitive action for protecting the environment.
Today, `saving the Earth' requires much more.
The success of the recycling industry has proven that recycling works on a large scale, but this success is unable to keep pace with the mismanagement of our natural resources. In spite of rising recycling rates, we still dump more trash each year than the year before.
Trash has far greater implications than its final resting place at the landfill. It is the last material evidence of an environmentally perilous process of natural resource extraction, transportation, refinement, and manufacturing.
In addition to recycling, `saving the Earth' requires a more careful attention to the natural resources we consume, from the trees that make our paper coffee cup to the petroleum used to make our plastic candy wrapper. Questions such as `paper or plastic?' confound us as we try to sort out what is best for our families and our children. Most are familiar with the phrase, `reduce, reuse, recycle,' but it is sometimes difficult to follow through with this mantra in our busy lives.
The Lane County Master Recycler education program was designed to teach individuals about all the changing faces of recycling. The program offers nine weeks of comprehensive training in exchange for an equal time volunteering to educate others.
Students learn about industry standards, changing operational practices such as the commingling of residential recycling, life cycle analysis, waste prevention, sustainability and voluntary simplicity. Students also learn about the wide variety of local organizations that recycle everything from crayons to computers, from TVs to Tyvek envelopes.
Some Master Recyclers joined because they are looking for a career move; others just wanted to learn how to be good recyclers and stewards of the community. Some joined because the knowledge and networking would help them with their job duties; others were just new to the area and found it a good way to make 150 fast friends and acquaintances.
And all end up with a broader perspective of waste and a satisfying sense of community.
This fall's Master Recycler class will meet for nine Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. beginning September 20. There also will be three Saturday morning field trips to local recycling plants.
The class graduates Nov. 15 - America Recycles Day. Another 25 community volunteers will be ready to educate, inspire and take small steps toward `saving the Earth.'
This column is provided by Lane County Recycling.