Recycling is a good idea.
That being said, it is better to avoid buying things which cannot be recycled, like ___________ (you fill in the blank). I try to limit purchases, when possible, to items which genuinely WILL BE recycled. Aluminum is almost always possible to recycle. Glass does not always get recycled, even when they claim you can do it. Several studies have shown that very little plastic is made into new products, even if tossed into the correct recycling bin. Thankfully, salt-water bacteria seems to be digesting much of the plastics which end up in the ocean.
Of the 3 the one that uses the fewest natural resources to create is glass. Sand. Heat. And a few other odd ingredients… “presto.” My dad, 2 brothers, a sister (and even I for one summer) worked at a glass factory. It was HOT, NOISY, BORING, and unending (think swing-shifts). A small amount of old glass is always batched into new glass jars.
Aluminum and other types of metal containers take much more work to create, but can be continuously recycled.
Plastics…take forever to break down and apparently are ending up in our drinking water and food chain. If possible, we should buy far fewer plastics, but that seems almost impossible these days.
My wife and I produce very little trash. In fact, we take the dumpster to the street every other week whether it is full (rarely) or not.
So, when we moved to this town we were pleased to be able to recycle. The trash hauling company delivered 2 dumpsters, one for trash and one for recycling. Dutifully we loaded our trash in the black top dumpster and recycling in the one with a red lid. Then we moved them to the curb.
Sure enough, the trash truck made two stops on our street that day. First for our trash, then in the afternoon for our recycling.
So far, so good.
Fast forward several weeks. I began to notice something odd…some people put out the red lidded in the FIRST spot and black lidded ones in the SECOND…others did the opposite. Furthermore, some had gray lidded dumpsters which occupied both spots. It did not matter which color lid was in the FIRST spot, it was always collected first.
Another oddity…our neighbor has two dumpsters as well, of two different color lids but they fill both with trash to overflowing (that’s how we knew they use both for trash). As happened with every other house, the SECOND dumpster (full of trash) was emptied on the second collection run.
I don’t know if you understand the significance of what I am saying yet. Are you getting ahead of me?
So, I went to the trash hauling company website. I wanted to know in WHICH dumpster I should place my recycling materials or which position to place them (first or second). Although the website talked about recycling, it neither stated which color lid was to be used nor which spot it should occupy. In fact, there were no instructions for this at all* (*Except that all materials for recycling had to be CLEAN.)
Here’s where it got weird…the very same truck that picked up the trash also picked up the “recycling” except that several neighbors had trash in the second dumpster. The trash company was not distinguishing between TRASH and RECYCLING. Neither the color of the lids nor the spot they occupied made any difference.
So, finally, since there are no clearly defined instructions, since the trash and the “recycling” are co-mingled, and since the only instructions on the website make it clear that only “clean” materials are recycled … it is obvious that 100% of the materials collected in our town are land filled. It matters not that I separate them and wash my glass and metal. It matters not which color lid we choose for “recycling” or in which order they are placed at the street.
The company has merely created a situation where they get an additional cart rental fee.
I was washing my glass and metal containers for nothing. Was was placing clean cardboard in the “recycling” dumpster for nothing. AND I’m paying for a second dumpster for nothing. So, now it all goes in one dumpster (unwashed) and I only move ONE dumpster to the street (the one with the black lid).
It is either a scam…
Or, hopefully, I have missed something significant.
The only real benefit is that trash hauling in this town (even with 2 dumpsters) costs 1/3rd less than it used to cost at our former city for one dumpster.
Thank you for reading.
By the way, I found that a nearby church that has a trailer dedicated to recycling aluminum cans…and I toss mine there.
Copyright 2023 Donald Whelpley
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