Hi! We're talking about first projects this week. We want to give you a big set of ideas for projects with a high probability of success that'll get you off to a great start in your sustainability career. There are hundreds or even thousands of great things do to move the company towards sustainability, but the sort of projects we're trying to find are those that show a profit. Those are the easiest ones to get approved so this really limits us. Pretty much, you have to look for projects that save money. This can be reducing waste or reducing the demand for energy or water or something else. Having a green product that increases sales quirk, that's a long-term project. We've looked at energy and how you might find some savings there. We've looked at ways to nudge people to conserve with default settings and peer pressure or better information. In this lecture, I'll talk about everyone's absolutely favorite sustainable activity - recycling. Invariably, when we think of being green or sustainable recycling is one of the first activities we think of. In fact, I'd be surprised if your company doesn't already do it. It's a wonderful feel-good activity. It's simple to do so it makes it almost perfect. I don't want to dissuade you from recycling, but once I began to look into it I found out that to do recycling effectively is a lot more complicated than I thought. In a few weeks, we'll have some theoretical lectures about sustainability thinking. I'm going to steal some information from one of them about circular thinking to help explain some of the complications associated with recycling. At the end of a product's life, we can classify the materials a product is made of as either technical or biological nutrients. Technical nutrients are manmade substances, like metal, plastic, and synthetic fibers. Technical nutrients, theoretically, can be recycled forever. In practice, there's some degradation or contamination that usually means there has to be a limit to the number of cycles so new raw materials have to supplement the recycled content. Now, biological nutrients are natural products that decompose or can be composted: wood, paper, cotton, wool, vegetables, and the new vegetable-based plastic-like materials. Some of these materials can be recycled a few times but the fibers in paper, cotton, and wool get shorter every iteration. So, paper fibers can be used in copy paper a couple of cycles then the fibers are used in lower grade paper like newsprint or tissue. It's an example of downcycling. We're getting several cycles of use out of the fibers but the products are becoming lower quality. You can see on this graph five different grades of waste paper and their prices. Tissue and toilet paper don't appear because they're the absolute end of the line. Shredding paper shortens the fibers and makes it a lower grade or limits its recycling potential. So we have technical and biological nutrients and we need to treat these two types of materials differently but a lot of recycling is now single stream recycling. Everything goes into a single container which is compressed and hauled off to be sorted. Now there are some things that cannot be put into the single stream container. Some places recycle glass separately. Here are the rules for Boulder, Colorado. This looks great. But about 25 percent or more of what's collected ends up in a landfill because it was contaminated or it couldn't be sorted and so on. On average in the U.S. about 34 percent of materials are actually recycled. Now in Sweden, which has a collection rate of 95 percent, so that's almost all solid waste, is put into recycling containers. Half of it ends up being burned. Now it's burned for energy so I guess there's some use out of it, but still burned. This isn't recycling. All the materials and energy used to make those materials literally goes up in smoke. We need to distinguish between collection rates: what portion of materials put into the recycle bin, and recovery or recycle rates, which is the portion of material used again to make products of value. We tend to focus on collection rates but we should be focusing on the recovery rate. That's what really matters. If we ship single-stream bales several hundred miles to a sorting facility and much of the material ends up in a landfill anyway, all that transportation is wasted. Now I want to make a quick side comment here, which we'll return to when we talk about green design. Some products are made so recycling is almost impossible. When a product bonds together or glues together biological nutrients and technical nutrients, like a leather shoe with a plastic or synthetic sole or a paper juice container with aluminum or a plastic lining, nothing can be done with those items at the end of their lives. These are called horrendous hybrid products. Aluminum is the absolute star of the recycling universe. Here's something I found that sums this up well. It's from Stanford University. Aluminum, recycling of aluminum cans, saves 95 percent of the energy required to make the same amount of aluminum from its virgin source. One ton of recycled aluminum saves 14,000 kilowatt-hours of energy, 40 barrels of oil, 230 million BTUs of energy, and 10 cubic yards of landfill space. So aluminum is magical. Here's what the Aluminum Association says, "Nearly 75 percent of aliminum ever produced is still in use." Americans still throw away about a billion dollars worth of aluminum cans every year. Now, if you want to create an effective recycling program, separate out aluminum, find a metal recycler who will buy it, and figure out how to get it to the recycler's location. To make this work a bit better try to shift some containers. To make this work a bit better try to shift some of the containers you use for liquids in your companies from plastic bottles to aluminum cans. That may be that you or your green team members will have to put in some extra effort in delivering the aluminum. That's Okay. It's good work to do. And think about how happy you can make those little aluminum atoms. The same strategy can work for glass and cardboard. If they're separated and not contaminated they have value. Glass needs to be sorted by color. The idea is to preserve as much of value as possible by keeping potentially valuable materials from getting contaminated or lost in a mix of hard to sort waste. Once sorting becomes tricky, in other words expensive, it isn't worthwhile to do anything else but send the stuff to the landfill. This is a good example of sustainability thinking and we'll expand on it in a couple of weeks. We need to consider the long-term or the lifecycle impacts of our actions. It isn't enough to just put a lot of mixed materials into a green bin. We need to follow that mixture and make sure that there's some recovery and recycling going on. We can't just assume that everything in a recycle bin gets recycled. Sadly, it isn't that simple so we need to figure out how to make the system work better. Doing the hard work of finding companies, maybe little startup companies that specialize in glass or metal or cardboard recycling, will help assure that what you put in the recycle pile or the bin actually ends up in valuable products. I hope this gives you some insight into the challenges of sustainable business. You need to do your homework. You need to investigate, test assumptions, then find a solution that will provide the result you want. It isn't easy. But, if it was easy, somebody would have already done it. Next, we'll talk about another low or no cost possible first project: reporting what your company is doing. Thanks.