Thursday, November 05, 2009

Recycling: Addendum

So, yesterday I was doing some of my self- appointed recycling nazi duties. Checked the recycling bin sitting out on the curb in front of a place I was working at.

Some time earlier I'd checked this same bin and found a salad dressing container. Problem was, the lid was still on and it hadn't been rinsed out. This was blue cheese or some other kind of sticky dressing. It should of been given at least a brief rinsing out. I figured I should keep on eye on this household if for no other reason than I figure there are hundreds, if not thousands of households doing the same sort of thing.

Yesterday I found some more recycling no- nos: First, a chunk of styrofoam in the container section. Sorry, folks, styrofoam isn't recyclable here, although I read of a place in Napa County where you can take styrofoam and they'll make new stuff out of it.

Also in the bin was a dozen or so plastic shopping bags. Nope. Those aren't acceptable for recycling anywhere anymore. Even if you go down to the City Garbage Recycling Center, they no longer accept the "plastic film". However, you can still take them to any of the local grocery stores. They're required to have containers available for disposing of plastic bags. What they do with them once you drop them off, I don't know.

I also found one of those paper/ fiber egg cartons in the paper section of their bin. I was pretty sure those aren't recyclable, either, but not sure enough. I checked this morning and, no, they should not be put in the recycling bins.

I didn't see any of them yesterday, but I have noticed in other bins (and at City Garbage recycling) people tossing in beverage 12 pack containers- those beer and soda packages meant for cold storage. Those aren't recyclable, either. Since they've specified paper containers used for cold storage, I'm guessing that also includes paper food packaging for items that are frozen. I don't think those are supposed to be thrown in with paper or recycled, either.

The Arcata Recycling Center web site has a pretty good list of things not accepted although some things are left a bit unclear. For instance, I know styrofoam isn't accepted, but what about those styrofoam flats the stores put underneath meat when they wrap it? I asked a guy at City Garbage about them and he said they didn't accept them, despite the #6 or 7 label. I just throw them away now.

Here's the list of things that can be recycled although many items shouldn't be tossed in your curbside recycling bin.

So why do I care about this since I'm opposed to forced recycling and garbage pick- up? Because we've already created a glut of recycling materials that will probably get worse as more and more people are forced to recycle. That means it will get more expensive. It won't make things any better if the people doing the recycling start charging us for all the garbage that they have to sort from the recyclable stuff and I wouldn't blame them for doing so.

Let's try and do this right.


At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Casual Observer said...

Help me out here. I can recylcle plastics marked #1-#7. My plastic bags have a #7 on them. Why can't I recycle them? Does the great recycling guru know the difference between one form of #7 and another?

At 6:21 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

I don't know that I can help you much. #7 is pretty much a catch all category for plastics other than 1 thru 6 and I can't help but wonder why any of those are acceptable for curbside pick up? Just take your plastic bags to any grocery store and dump them in the bins for plastic bags the stores are required to have.

As an aside, even with other numbered plastics, I understand just because they're labeled one type of plastic or another doesn't mean they're really recyclable as that type of plastic.

Those ubiquitous plastic chairs you see on patios everywhere are labeled #2. Take a look at the bottom of them. I read somewhere that those chairs aren't really recyclable as the #2 plastic containers are. The laws require they be labeled as something so they get labeled #2.

The common 5 gallon buckets are labeled #2. I've seen a lot of them thrown in with the other plastics. I've always wondered if they're really recyclable as #2 or they're like the plastic chairs and just labeled #2 because they need a label?

At 11:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll check your links, but first, I want to ask about shredded paper. I generate quite a lot of it. I put it into paper grocery bags and then place the bags into the new recycle bins. My question, Fred, is this: Can I put those shreds into the bin without using paper bags? I figure I could fit a lot more shreds into the bin that way.

At 5:26 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

I put my shredded paper directly in the bin. The only problem I could see with doing that is it makes it easier for the stuff to blow away if it gets out of the bin.

Whether it makes it easier or harder for them to sort it after doing that, I don't know.

At 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the guidance, Fred.

Here is a question that harkens back to one of your earlier articles. I just had one of my CFLs burn out. It was there for about 6 months. I thought CFLs were supposed to last for a long, long time. What have other local people found out about the longevity of these "save-the-planet-from everything-but-the-mercury-within-them" light bulbs?

At 7:24 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

The first CFLs I bought burned out right after I turned them on. They've gotten better since then. I've only had one burn out the last few years and that one was lighting the garage for quite some time.


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