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Sustainability Snapshot | Fall Quarterly 2022

Sustainability Snapshot

Packaging Continued...

Kiya Villarreal, Sustainability Officer

Greetings all, this month’s Sustainability Snapshot topic continues on the popular topic of packaging, specifically the very hard to recycle mixed-materials.

The Co-op is consistently working to find solutions address wasteful packaging, our most recent new addition is wholly inspired by the good work we’ve seen from the Davis Co-op and their support of Terracycle return programs. Before you read any further it’s important to remember that recycling is a business.

So what is Terracycle?

“TerraCycle is different from your local curbside recycler. We develop recycling solutions for waste streams that are not typically curbside recyclable. What makes something municipally recyclable depends on whether your local recycling company can make a profit recycling it. If the cost of collecting and processing the waste is lower than the value of the resulting raw material, it will likely be locally recyclable. If the costs are higher, then it likely won’t be. The good news is that most trash is technically recyclable. TerraCycle can recycle the hard-to-recycle because we work with brands, retailers, and other stakeholders who fund the recycling

Rural Humboldt county is very limited with our curbside recycling so we are trying to put together a waste reduction effort using all different sorts of building blocks Terracycle is not our only focus but it something we are glad to add to our stores.

This program allows for a focus on more single-stream recyclable materials and significantly less contaminates than in curbside mixed recycling. I won’t pretend shipping hard to recycle items out of the area is exactly an efficient process but it is a way to ensure we’re sending the especially tricky items to a facility that specializes in properly sorting and accumulating enough volume of a particular type of material that may otherwise be worthless in a mixed stream facility because it’s market-value is low and that is why companies sponsor and pay for the recycling process. This longer route ensures we are doing more than just wishcycling (which means throwing everything we can into our big blue recycling bins and just assuming it’s all recycled) and the materials can be successfully recycled and turned into another product like weather-proof decking large park equipment and many many other items that can utilize recycled plastic.

There’s no simple answer and This is a huge topic and we’re barely scratching the surface here so if you are coop member who would like to participate in creating more direct solutions and have ideas for more low-waste building blocks please join us at the Earth Action committee where we formulate plans and TAKE ACTION to be better Earth stewards and figure out operational hurdles and plenty of other exciting topics!


Information about Terracycle can be found directly on their US website and further information about EAC can be found on our coop website and co-op calendar.

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