What can we do to make recycling sustainable again?
glass has little to no value in single stream
We think the first step is to remove glass from the single-stream. It would be beneficial for several reasons. It’s heavy and contributes more to the cost per ton than any other commodity. It also is more expensive to make new glass from recycled glass than it is from virgin materials. If the glass goes to the landfill, while it will take up space, the nice thing about glass is that it will break. When it breaks, it will filter amongst the void spaces in the trash, rather than taking up new space, making their introduction to the landfill not consume valuable space. We are looking into ways to still accept clean, dry and separated glass at a dropoff center for those who still want to recycle it.
All containers should be clean and dry when recycling
Not only does this mean in your kitchen, but also at the curb. Covered bins are preferred for this reason. This will help keep the mixed paper clean and dry also. If people can do this, we think we can continue to recycle it. However, if we can’t keep it from being contaminated, it will likely go to the landfill. This is not bad, however, since paper is organic. When trash decays in the landfill it gives off a gas, which amongst other things, contains methane. We already have a system in place to suck this gas out of the landfill and make electricity out of it. We make enough electricity to power 1,400 homes. When that paper decays, it will take up less space than it did when initially put in the landfill.
Above all – only recycle what we say can be recycled
The recycling plants are set up for a certain type of material. Adding things that aren’t on our list adds to contamination. For example, a 5-gallon bucket might have a #2 recycling symbol on it. However, most recycling processors do not take them as the buckets are thicker and larger than their machinery can handle. Just because it has a recycling symbol on it doesn’t mean our program takes it.