Greenstar and the State of Recycling

Tom Kemper is the president and founder of Dolphin Blue.

On April 6, 2010, almost seventeen years to the day, from the date Dolphin Blue began doing business, I had a personal tour of Greenstar North America’s Dallas MRF (materials recovery facility).

Wow, has the state of recycling changed!

Dolphin Blue was founded after I conducted the first-ever public recycling program in Dallas, in 1992.  I was busily collecting, sorting, bagging and preparing for processing, 350, 50-gallon bags of recyclable commodities for three-and-one-half weeks of the Dallas Summer Shakespeare Festival.  Unbeknownst to me WFAA TV’s environmental reporter was reporting on the evening news that the recycling collection trucks were picking up Dallas’ igloos of recyclable materials from public locations and delivering the materials right to the landfill.  That became for me an awakening that inspired me to begin a business that would provide only office supplies made from post-consumer recycled materials.  To this day Dolphin Blue is the only retailer that provides ONLY office supplies made from post-consumer recycled materials.

What I learned in that first-ever Dallas recycling effort, is that we can place all our discard materials into our blue bins to our heart’s content.  Unless we make purchases of products made from those items we place in the collection bins, all that effort to preserve or sustain our planet for our children is for naught.

Recycling, AND, purchasing products made from post-consumer recycled materials, produces many environmental and societal benefits such as:

  • Conserving the energy and raw materials used to manufacture a product.
  • Retaining healthy forests and ecologically-viable and species-diverse habitats.
  • Landfill-destined waste is eliminated, thereby reducing the need to utilize additional land for dumping our waste.
  • Preventing chlorine compounds and other carcinogens from entering vital water ecosystems reduces the risk of adverse human health effects and chemical influence on fellow species.
  • Almost half of the 83 million tons of paper generated annually still ends up in landfills.
  • When we recycle paper, CO2 emissions are significantly reduced.

As well as papers certified for 100% post-consumer recycled material, Dolphin Blue provides papers that are:

  • Made with Green-E certified renewable wind energy and made carbon neutral.
  • Processed chlorine free (whitened without chlorine or chlorine-containing compounds).
  • Manufactured using only 100% post-consumer recycled waste fibers using no virgin wood pulp.

I honestly expected to see something totally different than what I saw and heard from Trisha Davis, municipal marketing and account manager at Greenstar’s Dallas facility.  I expected to see a processing plant burdened with intake of recyclable commodities of which there is little or no opportunity for re-integration into the market.  I am pleased by what I’ve seen and heard of Greenstar’s success in recycling markets. Great job, Greenstar!

I am convinced that the vast majority of the 300 tons of material taken to Greenstar each year is reintroduced to the market.

So, that brings up a HUGE question…

If all this stuff is successfully being re-integrated into our economy, then why aren’t we seeing products that are more clearly marked, indicating the percentage of post-consumer recycled materials used to make the product?  I see many items and much packaging marked “made of recycled material” and nothing indicating the percentage of material used, or, whether it’s post-consumer or pre-consumer content.  I’ve even seen statements like “third-party certified” with no mention of who the third-party certifier might be, or, what the certification might be certifying!

That question leads me to believe that manufacturers and sellers of products are falling short in terms of stating their products’ actual content and are therefore misleading and misinforming the consumer.

It is the intent of Dolphin Blue to always educate and share knowledge with our customers and suppliers, as well as prospective customers, as to the environmental attributes and ecological value of what we provide, and who is certifying the ecological and social attributes that we so dearly value in sustaining our planet for future generations.

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