After living in the UK and New Zealand for a period of time, I saw what great lengths these two countries go to recycle their “rubbish.” In this article, I refer to “garbage cans” as “rubbish bins” as they do in Great Britain and in the Commonwealth.
In early 2018, China announced that they would no longer be taking all of our organic materials in need of recycling. Today, they are absorbing only 1% of what they used to. This poses quite the problem for the U.S. as well as many of the other countries who would send their rubbish for processing. Now, the U.S. is doing all they can to recycle the materials on their own, as well as sending it elsewhere. This means we need to be more conscious about what we are putting in our recycle bins.
We in Pleasant Grove City, as well as in other cities in the county, use Republic Services as their rubbish and recycling vendor, who then take the recycling materials to Rocky Mountain recycling for processing.
A few weeks back, I toured the Rocky Mountain recycling facility in Salt Lake and I thank Reese DeMille from Republic Services for setting up this opportunity to see what really happens to our recyclable rubbish. It was really interesting to see the process that our recycling goes through and to see the end product in large bales of paper, cardboard, aluminum and steel cans, and plastic products.
Rocky Mountain takes a number of paper products, such as newspaper (including inserts, not wrapped in plastic,) regular cardboard, brown paper bags, magazines, catalogs, phone books, and office and computer paper. Chipboard — the material used for cereal, cake and food boxes, carrier stock, paperback and hardcover books, and paper mail items are also recyclable. Rocky Mountain has asked that we leave out greasy pizza boxes as well as any metal clips or spirals like those found in spiral notebooks.
They also recycle most of our plastic containers, such as water and beverage bottles, milk and juice jugs, and plastic clam shells (what your fresh fruits and berries often come in). All plastic containers should be empty and lightly rinsed — there is nothing more awful than a partial jug of milk coming down the recycling conveyor to be sorted on a hot day. The lids should also be removed from these products. The lids are also recyclable, but are made of a different type of plastic that needs to be recycled separately.
They can recycle aluminum cans, trays and foils that are clean. Steel cans and tin are also acceptable.
One of the biggest problems for the recycling facility is plastic bags and films. Such materials plug up the sorting machinery at the facility. If recyclables come down the line in a plastic bag, they will be sorted out and sent to the landfill. So please, don’t fill bags with recyclable items and instead return plastic bags to the store you got them from so they will be recycled.
What is not recyclable? In short, please leave out all clothing, glass, styrofoam, motor oil cans, insecticides, hazardous material containers, electronics, plastic sheets, tarps or wraps. Many of these materials contain harmful chemicals that could hurt the working staff and machinery at the recycling facilities. When in doubt, do not recycle put it in the rubbish bin that goes to the landfill.
Our recyclers are still finding markets for the recycled products, but that means higher transportation costs, which means our cost to recycle is increasing. We understand your concerns on this matter. However, we think we all need to step up and do our part to preserve our environment.
We hope that everyone will continue with participation in recycling with the many environmental benefits we see coming with it. Recycling is not a lost cause; there will be many new manufacturing plants coming online domestically that will be able to take a large amount of recyclables. In Israel, recycling facilities are chewing up rubbish originally meant for landfills and are turning them into pseudo-plastic beads to be used to make new products across the globe. The fight for a cleaner planet is accelerating, and we would like to continue to aid that fight however we can. We thank you all for your continued support, and urge you not to give up! Let’s just take a moment and think about what we’re putting in our recycling bins.