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Up-and-Coming Recyclers Leading the Charge Toward Sustainability

Posted by: TXrecycle Tags: There is no tags | Categories: Articles, Recycling

We’ve been in the recycling business for more than 30 years, and it never gets old seeing positive changes taking place in our industry and each community’s attitudes toward recycling and sustainability. Don’t get us wrong; we still have a long way to go when it comes to protecting our planet. But it’s exciting that the next generation of recyclers is already making an indelible mark on what could be in the not-so-distant future.

From student-led initiatives at colleges and universities to kids jumping into the fray and organizations being at the forefront of environmental movements, examples of up-and-coming recyclers are all around us.

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The Rice Recycling Center in Houston, Texas

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In 1972, three Rice University undergrads and future recyclers embarked on a venture to “demonstrate that recycling can be a sound business venture.” The student-run Rice Recycling Center, which recycled glass, aluminum and steel cans, and newspapers from the university and the surrounding community, was one of the earliest higher education recycling programs in the country. It was also hugely successful. 

According to the center’s 1976 financial report, it generated $4,633 in profits and kept 405,000 pounds of recycled materials from ending up in the city’s landfills. The following year, it collected over 800,000 pounds of recyclable materials and generated over $10,000 in revenue. Today, environmental consciousness, imagination, and the entrepreneurial spirit continue to generate innovative solutions to the problems facing our “throw-away society.” 

Here are just a few more stories from the past few years of college, high school, and grade-school students who have come up with innovative ways to encourage recycling.

New Ways To Disassemble Old Technology

Matt Travers and Howie Choset, co-directors of the Carnegie Mellon University Biorobotics Lab in the Robotics Institute, and their team have been partnering with tech giant Apple since 2021 to design machine learning models that enable robots to teach themselves how to disassemble a device they’ve never seen before. Why is this important? A then-record 57.4 million metric tons of e-waste was generated in 2021 alone, and that total has been growing by an average of 2 metric tons a year since. This includes valuable and recoverable materials like gold, silver, copper, and platinum being discarded unnecessarily.

Apple has been looking for ways to support additional research that reimagines disassembly and recovery of recyclable materials. Apple has also been hard at work making its products and packaging with recycled or renewable materials. And these young recyclers have been up to the task.

To aid in the process, the students’ robots scanned a phone with a laser to create a 3D model. They then simulated cracks, missing batteries, etc., to train the model to recognize different conditions a device might be in when it arrives at a recycling center. Apple added that the software will be available for use in other recycling applications.

recyclers new electronic automated robotic arm

Ryan’s Recycling Company Makes Future Minds 25 Under 25 List

In 2012, a California boy named Ryan Hickman cashed in on a few small bags of cans and bottles on a trip to a local recycling center with his dad. Hickman was just 3 years old at the time, but the experience set the stage for him to become one of the nation’s top up-and-coming recyclers.

Fast forward to today, and Ryan is the CEO of Ryan’s Recycling Company. According to his website, he collects and recycles plastic and glass beverage bottles as well as aluminum cans. With help from his dad, he then takes them by the truckload regularly to the local redemption center, where they are unloaded, sorted, and weighed. To date, he’s managed to recycle 1,886,698 cans and bottles, which equates to 190,748 pounds of recyclable material. He’s also raised $15,166 for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

Apart from his recycling efforts, Ryan actively engages in environmental education and outreach and has been featured on websites, television, and radio stations all over the world, including the Ellen DeGeneres Show, NBC, CNN, and FOX News. He gives presentations at schools, events, and conferences to inspire others to take action and make a positive impact on the environment.

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Texas Recycling: Multi Material Dallas Recycling Center. Call 214-357-0262 for Current Prices

Class Project at Rice Leads to Staff-Sponsored Move-Out Initiative

We all know that when a school year ends at a major college or university, trash bills are quickly overloaded with items that students have decided to part ways with. Well, the trash bins at Rice University aren’t so full during move-out days in recent years, thanks to a green initiative started in May by several environmentally conscious students.

Essentially, all of Rice’s 11 residential colleges were able to place unwanted clothing, shoes, linens, and other textile-based items in large bins provided to each college by Houston-based recycling company Green City Recycler. The goal, of course, was to reduce the amount of textile waste that finds its way into landfills each year. According to an article posted by Rice University, Rice students donated a whopping 4,943 pounds of recyclable goods during this year’s move-out. That statistic doesn’t include any last-minute, left-behind dorm room items Green City Recycler picked up on its final sweep of campus. It also didn’t include items donated through a partnership McDonald’s team established with Rice’s Office of Student Success Initiatives (SSI) to make available left-behind mini-fridges in proper working order to first-year, low-income students, or donations of unopened, unexpired and nonperishable food items to SSI’s student food pantry.

“What you see is a result of staff and students working closely together, with the curriculum serving as a launching point and catalyst of making our campus more sustainable,” Rice official Richard Johnson said in the article. “I could not be more proud of what our students and staff have accomplished together.”

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Photo credit: Gustavo Raskosky

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Autistic Man Starts Home Recycling Company

Last year, a Portland man with autism named James Harris added his name to the lengthy list of up-and-coming recyclers worldwide when he and his mother started a recycling company that collects items not accepted curbside. What was a small initiative has quickly expanded to hundreds of customers and events in his area. James hosts a recycling event where they accept hard-to-recycle plastics, and at $3 a bag, it’s an affordable option for people to ensure their recyclables don’t end up in a landfill.

According to several television spots, James was always fascinated with garbage and recycling. When James turned 18, they started a recycling business with a handful of neighbors who went around the area and picked up plastics that weren’t accepted curbside. As of late last year, the company has achieved non-profit status and boasted over 400 customers.

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Texas Recycling Supports Recyclers and Their Efforts In Dallas, Texas

For more than 30 years, Texas Recycling has been proud to be involved in a vibrant, innovative industry that’s helping protect the environment and improving the quality of life for our neighbors in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Texas Recycling provides quality recycling services in North Texas. We process thousands of tons of recyclable paper, cardboard, newspaper, and metal at our 225,000-plus square-foot facility. So, if you still have a truckload of recyclable items, please give us a call at 214-357-0262 so we can let you know how we can help. 

Our creative solutions help companies embrace environmental responsibility and sustainability. Texas Recycling also offers our clients personalized customer service. From scheduled pickups for large commercial entities to our Public Buy Back Center for individuals and smaller businesses, we have a recycling solution to meet your needs.

Help both the environment and your bottom line by calling Texas Recycling at 214-357-0262 to get started on a commercial recycling or industrial recycling program for your organization.

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