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Virginia Recycling Association Conference

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 13 - November 16, 1995

The fifth annual Virginia Recycling Association (VRA) Conference and Trade Show was held November 1-3 at Wintergreen Resort and Conference Center.

With 204 official attendees, it was the biggest VRA conference to date. Thirty-five industry vendors exhibited everything from trucks to mugs, and crushed oil filters to lawn furniture produced from plastic soda bottles and milk jugs.

The first session, "Organic Waste Recycling and Commercial Composting," featured presentations by Greg Evanylo and Archer Christian of the Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences Department, and a composting workshop facilitated by Angela Neilan from the Virginia Tech Extension Office.

A Thursday morning session, "Paper Recycling Infrastructure in Virginia," highlighted the economic realities of recycling. Representatives from Georgia-Pacific, Stone Container, Union Camp, Bear Island Paper Company, Virginia Fibre Corporation, and Southeast Recycling Corporation described the expensive investments being made to "retool" paper mills for the pre- and post-consumer paper streams, and the vulnerability of these investments to volatile markets and undependable paper sources. Prices paid to brokers soar and then crash. Export markets drain domestic supplies. Large mills, with their huge feedstock appetites, cannot survive on inconsistent supplies of recycled paper. Small levels of contaminants--1 percent or less--in truck or rail loads of paper are very costly to remove. Nevertheless, the paper industry continues to increase its consumption of recovered paper; most corrugated cardboard boxes, for example, are now made from 35-40 percent OCC (old corrugated containers).

One of the last sessions, "National Recycling Coalition (NRC) Update," described the recent Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Recyclables Exchange. Opened for business on Oct. 17, 1995, the exchange lists recovered materials such as glass, plastic, and paper through an on-line electronic bulletin board. A cooperative effort of CBOT, NRC, EPA, the New York State Office of Recycling Market Development and Clean Washington Center, the exchange will assist in linking sellers and buyers. (Dial-in modem number to view exchange: 312-986-9780).

The sixth annual VRA conference is scheduled for July 31-Aug. 2, 1996, at the Hotel Roanoke. For VRA membership or conference information, please call the VTR office (1-9915 or lbechtel@vt.edu) or the VRA office, 2210 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA (703) 549-9263.