Tom Carpenter, director of WM Sustainability Services
Last month, we explored the principles of Design with Intent and how the Waste Management
Sustainability Services (WMSS) advisory group can help our customers achieve their goals by
working with them to design products and packaging with recyclability, composting or
disassembly in mind.
This month, I would like to share a practical example of how WMSS uses industry knowledge,
and WM’s vast assets, to assist our customers to Design with Intent.
Ecologic Brands, a manufacturer of environmentally minded packaging, approached WMSS to
determine its eco.bottle™ container. They engaged our team to help with assessing the
recoverability and recyclability of the eco.bottle™, understanding how the product behaves in
the recycling infrastructure and formulating recyclability messaging related to the product.
WMSS put together a robust testing methodology designed to assess how the product behaved
in real-world settings. The first step involved placing samples in a truck along a recycling collection
route to understand how compaction potentially affects the structure of the product. The next step
was to test the product at our MRFs to observe how it flows through the system and identify
any product qualities that lead toward improper sorting or that contaminate our material streams.
We also used WM’s relationship with material processors nationwide to see if the product was
compatible with their processing capabilities and to evaluate if the components were valuable. Along
with helping the customer gain an understanding of how the product behaves within a residential
single-stream recycling program, we provided Ecologic feedback that will help them make informed
design decisions that will enhance both the recoverability and recyclability of the eco.bottle™.
When manufacturers Design with Intent, they close the loop on waste by helping consumers return
product components to the raw materials stream, enabling those materials to be recycled into new
products. This process creates several benefits:
- Higher quality material enters our MRFs, increasing bale value and making the use of
recycled material more attractive to manufacturers
- The environment benefits from reduced resource use and disposal
- Consumers become “part of the solution” instead of “part of the problem”
This is a great example of how companies are coming to realize the added value a partnership with WM
can bring in addition to our core services. Manufacturers can help ensure that their products are truly
recoverable and recyclable, creating a winning situation for both parties and creating benefits for
consumers, the recycling industry, and the environment.