I admit that I’m prone to “geek out” over new technologies. In other words, they grab my attention with ease and I tend to get wrapped up in the moment of the discovery of something new. Our industry is facing a surge of new technologies that are making just about every aspect of waste management more efficient.
We’re exploring this new tech in all of our feature articles. “The Tools and the Talent” by Carol Brzozowski looks into new landfill compaction advancements. “Separation Anxiety” by Lori Lovely highlights the latest MRF equipment. And we have Daniel Duffy’s “Same Goals, New Methods” which covers a wide range of topics regarding the challenges faced in recycling.
Duffy’s article elicits a very important question. Should we continue creating new tools to achieve traditional aims? Or should we be innovating for new ideas, processes, and results?
In our Landfill Gas Supplement included in this issue, you’ll find information on design elements of an LFG system, the necessities for a waste-to-energy (WTE) project, and different ways to process landfill gas. But I also want to introduce you to our Guest Editorial author, Rick Aho. He’s exploring a different way of harvesting landfill gas.
The challenges we face can seem daunting. China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) has finalized a quality standard of 0.5% for certain imported recyclables. The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), and the National Waste and Recycling Association all expressed their disappointment in the MEP, as well as their determination to prepare for March 1, 2018, when the contamination standard officially takes effect.
In its press release announcing the finalized standard, SWANA “…urges state and local governments to work closely with the private sector and other stakeholders to educate consumers about the need for recyclables to be free from contamination, and encourage operational changes that result in cleaner materials.”
Part of ISRI’s statement on the matter says it continues “…to be supportive of the Chinese government’s drive to improve the environment in China, but we continue to hope that such support can be realized through collaboration that achieves China’s environmental improvement goals without impairing trade of high-quality, specification-grade scrap commodities required by China’s manufacturing sector.”
Can companies and local governments make substantial enough changes to their operations to meet the restrictions while at the same time dealing with a sharp decrease in import licenses issued by Beijing? Will our ingenuity be able to meet the challenge?Innovation is rarely easy. But as the articles in this issue can attest to, it does happen and it happens often. Perhaps innovation will find a way to keep our recyclables and apply home-grown solutions instead of shipping them off to faraway lands.