Category Archives: environment

Recycling and the China connection

IMG_6113My recycling is staying right in Minnesota.

CORRECTION 6//19/18 – Eureka has not shipped to China since 2013.

After a friend pointed me to a New York Times article saying that recycling is going into landfills, because China has closed the door on U.S. garbage imports, I double-checked. Yes—Minneapolis and St. Paul recycling still stays mostly in Minnesota. Eureka Recycling, our non-profit recycling provider, does not ship our paper, plastic, or anything else to China, and has not done so since 2013.

“About 80% of our materials are sold to markets in MN, 90% in the upper Midwest, 100% in North America,” reports Lynn Hoffman, co-president of Eureka. She adds that they are still impacted by China’s import ban, because flooding of U.S. recycling markets has driven prices down.

According to the NYT article, roughly one-third of the 66 million tons of material recycled in the United States each year is shipped overseas. China was the largest importer of U.S. recyclables, and accepted about half of the entire world’s exports of recyclables. Last year, China announced that it would no longer be “the world’s garbage dump,” and it stopped importing almost all recyclables on January 1, 2018.

“We have been outsourcing impacts of our consumption in our trash,” says Hoffman, and the change could be a good thing for the recycling industry. She hopes for investments in U.S. recycling infrastructure to “create good quality material with high value.” The change, she says, could be a good thing for the industry.

On the other hand, there’s a danger that recycling imports will simply shift to other countries, such as India, where standards and regulations are lower. That would perpetuate the problem of dumping our garbage on other people

“We’re not opposed to shipping overseas on principle,” Hoffman says. The problem is that, “in those markets, it can be harder to track your material and know what’s happening to it. Transparency is a big deal for us, and that leads us to markets that are closer to home.”

She says the global shake-up could be an opportunity to rebuild in a way that’s great for recycling, and great for our communities. Investment in recycling infrastructure doesn’t come cheap, but, she says, “It’s always less expensive than trash,” especially if you consider the hidden costs of landfilling to human health, water, and cleaning up spills.

Want to know more about where your recycling goes? Check these out:

CORRECTION 6//19/18 – Eureka has not shipped to China since 2013. The article originally said Eureka had never shipped to China, but Eureka has informed me that it did ship some materials to China prior to 2013. Lynn Hoffman clarified in an email: 

“We’re not fundamentally opposed to sending material to China or any other export market – as this is a global commodity industry. We have prioritized local markets as much as possible over the years because it results in more environmental benefit (less transportation) and more local economic benefit.”

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You’re invited to the Block (Line 3) Party!

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This weekend water protectors and pipeline resisters will party in St. Paul, and you’re invited! The party starts on Friday at 2:30 at the State Capitol and moves from there to Metro Square, 121 7th Place East, where the PUC has its offices, continuing through Saturday afternoon.

The Block Party focus is on protecting our Minnesota water, and especially on opposing Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline proposal, which would cross 337 miles of northern Minnesota. Go to stopline3.org for more information..

Come for part of the time, drop in and out, or stay through the night. Here’s the schedule of events:

 Schedule for Friday, May 18
2:30 PM Meet on the steps outside the Capitol before we visit the governor’s office together to ask him to stand strong against Line 3.  Then we’ll walk to the PUC for the Block (Line 3) Party at 3:00.
3:00 PM Clean Energy Solutions Fair, Info Tents, and Silk Screen Art Tent at PUC (bring a t-shirt!)
4:00-6:00 PM Community meal provided (vegan/gluten free option too!)
5:30-9:00 PM  Concert to Block Line 3 Lineup!

  • Thomas X
  • See More Perspective
  • Jayanthi Kyle
  • Annie Humphrey

What should you bring on Friday? 
*Bring your own reusable dinnerware for the Community Meal in the form of a plate and silverware. Let’s be eco-friendly wherever we go!
*Bring a reusable water bottle. We’ll have the water!
*Bring camp chairs and blankets for our outdoor concert!
*Bring a t-shirt or other piece of clothing from home to have a very cool design screen printed on it. This is a fundraising event for the Water Protectors who have an art tent up north, so donations are accepted in any amount.

Overnight vigil & community space will be hosted at the PUC block between Friday and Saturday schedules — no scheduled events overnight, but please stay, and wake up refreshed for our morning Water Ceremony.

Schedule for Saturday, May 19
8:30 AM Water Ceremony at Mississippi River (meet at river near Sibley St in downtown St. Paul)
10:00 AM Pledge of Resistance Signing at the PUC — commit to oppose Line 3
12:00-4:00 PM Direct Action Training OR join the March for Science at Mears Park

What should you bring on Saturday? 
*Bring your own reusable dinnerware for breakfast or lunch in the form of a plate and silverware. It’s so easy to be eco-friendly wherever we go!
*Bring a reusable water bottle. We’ll have the water!
*Bring a cup of water from your home for the Water Ceremony.

*A light breakfast will be provided (vegan/gluten free option too!).

The Public Utility Commission will hear oral arguments in June, prior to making its decision on Line 3. Mark your calendar for June 18, 19, 26, and 27 to attend those arguments. Subscribe to HealingMNStories to stay up-to-date on developments. From the StopLine3 website:

“Line 3 is an Enbridge pipeline that ships crude oil from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. It spans northern Minnesota, crossing the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations and l855 and l842 treaty areas.  It was built with defective steel in l96l, and has had numerous ruptures and continues to degrade. Instead of cleaning up this liability, Enbridge is proposing to leave it in the ground and build a $7.5 billion brand new corridor through our watershed and Ojibwe treaty territories,  expanding Line 3 into the largest project in Enbridge’s history.  This would become one of the largest crude oil pipelines in the continent, carrying up to 915,000 barrels per day. First Nations, tribes, and communities along this dangerous corridor having been fighting for years to stop Line 3 and protect our future generations.”

 

 

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Legislating against agriculture and environment

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According to Governor Mark Dayton, “Agriculture is not a partisan issue—all Minnesotans want a strong agricultural industry.” That’s far from evident in the agriculture omnibus bill that Republicans in the legislature sent to the governor –which he vetoed last week. Besides restricting spending for the Agriculture Growth, Research and Innovation (AGRI) program, the bill takes away the Department of Agriculture authority to enforce pesticide regulations. That puts Minnesota in conflict with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Continue reading

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Just say no — final month for MN legislature

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As the Minnesota legislature rolls on toward its May 22 end-of-session deadline, bad bills keep on coming. Here’s a quick list of some of the worst. Call your legislators, conference committee members, and Governor Dayton to just say no to bad environmental legislation, private prisons, and protest penalties.  Continue reading

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Making sausage in St. Paul: From omnibus bills to poison pills

mct state capitol

Laws are like sausages: it’s better not to watch them being made. So goes a venerable quote that, like many venerable quotes, has disputed origins. The truth remains: sausage-making is a messy business, and so is legislating. As the 2017 Minnesota legislative session draws closer to its end, the sausage-making mess is on full and awful display. Continue reading

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Muddying the waters

What’s happening in Washington and St. Paul right now goes way beyond muddying waters, both in the literal sense of what is flowing into our waters and in the metaphoric sense of how politicians talk about protection and pollution. Both in Washington and in St. Paul, politicians are shutting down water protection. They are ditching regulations that protect lakes, rivers and drinking water and slashing funds for enforcement. Continue reading

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Ash Wednesday, Sage Thursday: Walking prayer and protest

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I missed getting my forehead smudged with ashes on Ash Wednesday, on the slushy, icy road out of the Twin Cities by sunrise. On Thursday, I walked out of the house into a cold sunrise, heading for the Lake Street Bridge and a different kind of smudging in another holy ritual. Continue reading

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North Dakota pipeline leak: Listen to the Great Oz

Sometime before December 5, a North Dakota pipeline started leaking oil near Belfield. True Companies, which operates the pipeline, has electronic monitoring equipment to detect leaks. The fancy equipment didn’t work. The leak was discovered by a landowner. By the time the company shut off the oil, it had “migrated about almost 6 miles from the spill site along Ash Coulee Creek, and it fouled an unknown amount of private and U.S. Forest Service land along the waterway.” Now the company says that “more than” 176,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled. The spill is about 150 miles from where the Standing Rock water protectors are camped out, trying to prevent Energy Transfer Partners from drilling under the Missouri River. Continue reading

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Celebrate — and dig in for the long run

 

Today, tomorrow, this week, this month is a time to celebrate a remarkable victory for Standing Rock. Continue reading

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Latest on Standing Rock

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Click here for edited 90-second video from November 20 police attack on water protectors at Standing rock. 

 

Lots of news from the water protectors at Standing Rock, so here’s a quick update on:

  • police repression
  • continuing encampment
  • Army Corps of Engineers actions (okay, this is more of an educated guess – I doubt that the Corps itself knows what it’s doing)
  • three calls you can make

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