In 1984 the local garbage hauler launched curbside pick-up of recyclables in our town. We were issued a small blue box for glass, big blue bin for co-mingled recyclables, gray bin for yard waste, green bin for garbage. It’s a good feeling to get everything all sorted out.
How are we doing? Official statistics look good. In 1992, 9 million pounds of material was “repurposed.” This past year, 62 million pounds. Yeah!
Wait. What does “repurposed” mean?
1. Glass: The machines which sort glass are expensive. Our town doesn’t have one. Best case: glass is crushed and used as drainage material or for roads. Usually it goes to the dump.
2. Plastic: Most is sent to China for recycling. Last year China announced a new Green Fence policy, and stopped taking all but the cleanest, tidiest bales of plastic, and only certain types. If it there is a number 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 on the bottom of a container, China won’t take it, so it’s probably getting dumped in a landfill.
3. Cardboard: Has to be clean. Greasy pizza boxes with cheese stuck on them? To the dump.
4. Block styrofoam. This has never been picked up curbside, but for awhile there were places willing to take it. Not now. Everybody’s storage spaces are full of the stuff.
Luckily, several local breweries offer a waste-free option to drown our sorrows with while we contemplate next moves.
How goes the recycling efforts in your town? Time to lose ourselves in the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch?