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5 Step Checklist To Start A Successful School Recycling Program

From a public-policy perspective, the recycling issues of collection and processing certainly require further technology and systems refinement. Over time, however, these costs are sure to come down. By the end of , the business alliance hopes to sign 5, companies as members. Plenty of U.

Recycling for Profit: The New Green Business Frontier

Sometimes the symbol means the product contains recycled materials; in other cases, it means the product itself is recyclable. For many managers, the changes start by instituting new corporate purchasing policies, not by creating yet another green product that confuses consumers. Top-level managers in the Buy Recycled Business Alliance certainly recognize the need to take a consistent stance toward environmentally responsible products and to provide customers with the right information.

However, while they believe in being good corporate citizens, they also see the possibilities for gaining market share as well as a loyal customer base. Managers of New Jersey-based Marcal Paper Mills, for instance, believe that they have developed a loyal following of customers because of a marketing strategy that focuses on community recycling programs rather than private-sector processing facilities. In more than 1, northeastern U.

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In exchange, each community includes at least one retail outlet that stocks Marcal paper products. In promoting the purchase of recyclables, the recent efforts of private companies and public interest groups deliberately challenge several recycling myths. But the corporate examples detailed below illustrate how, contrary to myth, companies can gain a competitive leg up by investing in recycled product lines. The recycled paper that Moore Business Forms buys to produce its products is no different in cost than nonrecycled paper. This partnership allows both companies to make a profit on the use and production of recyclables.

In order to build such profitable partnerships, suppliers and distributors must be able to guarantee not only competitive prices but also volume of sales over time.

Strategic partnerships that increase the length of contracts can often be used to negotiate lower prices on recycled materials. And some suppliers consider their recycled stock to be a loss leader: it can be worth offering at a low price, provided business customers also negotiate contracts for products with better profit margins, such as letterhead or fine writing paper. Just five years ago, it was nearly impossible to find a printer who carried recycled paper, let alone one who could give a good price for printing on recycled paper.

But numerous small and large companies that shop around today will find that printers can now provide letterhead, business cards, and envelopes on recycled paper at the same price as virgin stock paper. This change in pricing has been brought about partly by business customers that have forced printers to compete and partly by manufacturers that have offered better prices to their customers. The goal: to compete with prices and quality that are the equivalent of virgin stock paper.

In addition to paper, there are a number of other products that have become less costly than their virgin counterparts. For instance, Image Carpets makes both industrial and residential carpets out of 2-liter plastic soda bottles and sells them for less than most other carpets. And for companies with large vehicle fleets, buying recapped tires can create real savings. Though once a serious concern, quality control is no longer an issue when considering recycled products. Office machinery experts now acknowledge that recycled-content paper performs better in modern copiers and laser printers because of improved conditioning of the paper fibers as well as better adjustment to humidity and temperature conditions.

In addition, many people who use recycled paper report that the reduced glare is less taxing on their eyes. However, quality also involves aesthetic definitions of products, a factor difficult to quantify and impossible to keep constant. Aesthetic misperceptions still greatly influence purchasing decisions. Consider plastic lumber. Plastic lumber picnic tables, benches, sheds, waste receptacles, retaining walls, and fences have all demonstrated immense savings over time due to low maintenance costs.

Still, while plastic lumber represents a tremendous investment by the plastics industry and one of the best product applications for recycled plastics, the market has started to grow in only the last two years. Although manufacturers have taken great pains to make their product look like wood, plastic lumber is still not wood.

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Both individual consumers and company purchasing managers think of wood as the material of choice because they are accustomed to it. In addition, wood has traditionally been associated with high quality. And in a corporate setting, the buyer of wood products and materials is usually not the person responsible for maintenance and repair.


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Phoenix Recycled Plastics, a Pennsylvania-based company, finds that the specifications it receives from purchasers often break project cost proposals into two separate categories: lumber in one category and paint and labor in the other. Indeed, plastic lumber has forced the issue of life-cycle cost considerations in purchasing. To a certain extent, it has forced managers to weigh their aesthetic principles against practicality.

Overcoming these barriers takes time. In many cases, it also takes a management directive to place the principle of positive environmental ethics on equal footing with the aesthetics of wood or of office products made from other materials.

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Quality control tests that were run products from and have little bearing products currently on the market. Consider the case of remanufactured toner cartridges.

In the late s, remanufacturers simply opened up old cartridges and repacked them with new toner. Now they strip down cartridges and refit them with long-lasting, high-quality drums and other components manufactured specifically to allow a toner to be recharged eight to ten times. Remanufacturers offer free servicing of laser printers as part of their standard contracts, and responsible companies promise to repair at their own cost any printer that malfunctions due to a faulty cartridge.

The increasingly good quality of recycled products points to another difficult issue. While restriction of trade is essentially illegal, recycled products, like any product substitute, call into question established markets. Such restrictive contracts can also be found for car parts, computers, telecommunications equipment, and many other high-tech products and services. In addition, franchises and authorized service companies will sometimes use the name of the manufacturer as a front for their own restrictions.

Where necessary, buyers and purchasing managers should force competition on service contracts and demand that manufacturers put into writing any restrictions on the use of their products. The availability of recycled products was a real problem just a few years ago and still is when certain businesses, particularly publishers, require large amounts of materials to meet a hard deadline. But most standard business products are readily available today. Major writing-paper companies like James River now carry numerous grades of quality paper stock in a variety of colors.

Based on this early success in New York, the company saw the market potential for developing recycled versions of a number of its plastic products, including trash cans, buckets, liners, and wheeled carts.

Rubbermaid currently markets more than 70 products made from postconsumer plastic. Even in the case of newspaper and magazine publishers that require large quantities of recycled paper in a short time, planning and vigilance can overcome the availability problem. For example, Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, examined the feasibility of converting the paper its magazine was printed on to recycled content. The driving force behind the use of recycled paper was Rhoda H.

She believed that it was essential for her nonprofit organization to be sensitive to environmental considerations in its purchasing and publishing activities. With a circulation of over five million, Consumer Reports is the eighth largest magazine in the United States. However, Karpatkin and others persisted in their efforts. Consumers Union identified opportunities for producing many of its publications with recycled paper. To compensate for the higher price, CR established a price preference fund that was partly fed by the savings from their in-house recycling program.

The recycled content of Consumer Reports continues to increase: half of the press run for Consumer Reports is now printed on recycled-content paper. In addition, more than half the books published by Consumers Union are currently printed on recycled paper. During the next several years, Consumers Union expects its suppliers to develop both a consistent feedstock and competitive prices.

Ironically enough, while plenty of people dutifully bundle newspapers for recycling programs, a number of local recycling programs have stopped collecting them. While temporary, the glut in unprocessed newspapers highlights the problems caused by the time lag between collection and processing.

In efficiently generating a supply of unprocessed newspaper, government programs have made a new resource available to industry. Manufacturers, in turn, are now scrambling to catch up by upgrading processes and creating new uses for recycled newspapers.