Waste Free Earth’s Alexandra Thompson (left) and Marina McCoy. VBSR photo.
Vermont Business Magazine As the production of single-use plastic increases, many businesses want to do their part by contributing to recycling efforts for hard to recycle items, including plastic #4 low-density polyethylene (LDPE), also known as plastic film. In 2017 alone, the United States produced 8 billion tons of LDPE.
Currently, there is no curbside or pick-up recycling program for plastic film in Chittenden County, leaving the hundreds of businesses in Vermont’s densest commercial region without an option to recycle.
To fill this gap, VBSR Member Waste Free Earth is coordinating a partnership of local businesses to design a “community-shared system” for plastic #4 recycling in Chittenden County, including VBSR members Burton Snowboards, Casella Waste Systems, Chittenden Solid Waste District, City Market, Onion River Co-op, OnLogic, and Ski Rack.
By pooling their resources, these businesses hope to create a sliding scale model to make plastic film recycling accessible for all businesses in the region.
"It's great to see the work that Waste Free Earth is doing to establish a recycling solution for these single use plastics, and we're happy to play a small part," says Patty Houston, OnLogic VP of IT and Management Sponsor for the company's Green Team, who are responsible for ongoing sustainability efforts. "Partnering with other local businesses is a great way to test the waters on this approach and see if it's something that can be expanded in the future. Every little bit helps, and it would be great to see this grow into a sustainable option for any business that wants to participate."
Accessibility is critical to the success of the effort. As Alexandra Thompson, Sustainability Programming Manager at Waste Free Earth stated, “We create closed-loop systems that are community-based because zero waste is a collective effort. The tools to create sustainable change must be accessible to everyone, not just those with deep pockets.”
Waste Free Earth developed the community-shared systems model following the CSA (community supported agriculture) model that farmers have used for decades as an alternative to big-box retailers.
According to Marina McCoy, Sustainability Boss Lady (CEO) at Waste Free Earth “We used the CSA model, blended it together with our zero waste framework, and ta-da: community-shared systems were born!” The company defines community-shared systems (n) as “the collective access to resources, knowledge, and implementation that create circular procedures and eliminate waste.”
Waste Free Earth is currently seeking partners from the business community to help support the program’s development, with a goal of $20,000 of preliminary funding to launch the initial project.
For more information about Chittenden County Plastic Film Recycle, visit Waste Free Earth’s website.
VBSR is a statewide, non-profit business association with a mission to leverage the power of business for positive social and environmental impact. VBSR’s 650 member businesses and organizations strive toward a just, thriving, and transformative economy that works for all people and the planet through shared learning, building connections, and collective action. Learn more or join the cause at www.vbsr.org.
Source: Burlington, VT – VBSR 8.16.2021