LATEST INFORMATION AND RECYCLING UPDATES
Conserving Resources…Starting in 2013, we will no longer publish newsletters. Instead we will put our efforts into posting information and educational links online. Toward the end of the year we will post a summary report. If you would like the paper edition of this report, please call the office.
- Why do I have to pay for curbside recycling? - Why isn’t recycling always free? Recycling is beneficial in so many ways – you would think that it should always be free! Unfortunately, it isn’t always free and if you are wondering why, here are a few facts to consider. Many cities either operate their own waste and recycling programs or contract large commercial haulers to provide trash and curbside recycling services. Programs such as these are often the second greatest expense for municipalities. Many haulers advertise “free recycling”, but there is a cost to run the recycling program. To collect recyclables haulers must purchase and maintain expensive recycling trucks, employ staff to collect and process materials, purchase fuel, and provide recycling carts or bins. In the end, the expenses involved with recycling collection are often nearly the same as the expenses involved with trash collection. However, unlike trash, which haulers must pay to dispose of at landfills, recyclables once collected can be sold as commodities. This brings down the cost of running the program and makes recycling more economical than waste disposal. On average, these programs will charge a household $8-$12 a month or more for trash collection and around $3-$5 a month to collect recyclables. Often the costs… Read More
- I’ve heard that glass gets sent to the landfill, not recycled. Is that true? - When different colors of glass are mixed together the glass is no longer marketable and becomes basically worthless. In too many instances mixed glass is marketed as “landfill cover” and buried, giving recycling programs a bad reputation. Some programs have also begun marketing their mixed glass as road base or in other experimental programs. This is a shame because glass can be recycled indefinitely. We sort our glass by color and then market it to processors who are actually producing new bottles.
- Where can I recycle styrofoam peanuts and beads? - Styrofoam is very difficult to recycle. However it can often be reused by shipping stores. See our Hard to Recycle Guide for a list of local stores who will accept clean peanuts and beads for reuse.
- Why don’t you accept plastic bags? Some of them are #2 HDPE. Where can I recycle them? - We only accept solid plastic containers numbers #1, #2, and #5. Our equipment is not designed to process plastic bags- they get caught in and wrapped around conveyor belt pulleys and other equipment. Plastic bags photo degrade very quickly so they must be kept dry and out of the sun. They are also very light weight so we would literally need to collect and store millions of them to acquire enough to meet market requirements. You can recycle your plastic shopping bags at City Market, Wal-Mart, Albertsons or other local grocery stores. Remember to be sure and remove your receipts. Plastic bags are typically down cycled rather than recycled meaning they aren’t turned back into new bags. Rather they end up as plastic lumber, floor mats, and low-grade textiles. Recycling plastic bags does very little to reduce the need for virgin materials. Therefore the best way for us to reduce our plastic bag footprint is to switch to a reusable alternative.
- My container has a chasing arrow symbol on it. Does that mean it can be recycled? - The chasing arrow symbol is the universal sign for recycling. Although most products which have the symbol are indeed recyclable there is no guarantee that a market exists. For example paper juice and milk cartons are marked with the chasing arrows and can technically be recycled. However, the vast majority of paper and cardboard mills consider them to be a contamination. There are a small number of specialized mills who recycle only these cartons. However, the cost of collecting, sorting, storing and shipping to these mills is often not cost effective for most curbside programs. Most plastics are also marked with the chasing arrows symbol and a number 1 through 7. The number is actually a code which identifies the chemical compounds of a particular plastic. Not all plastics are made with the same compounds. Due to safety and environmental regulations in the USA most plastics recyclers choose to recycle only #1, #2 and #5 plastics. The majority of the mills willing to process these other types of plastics are often located in third world countries, where there are insufficient protections for workers, no child labor laws and little to no environmental regulations. We choose to recycle our plastics responsibly… Read More
- Why doesn’t GJ CRI accept glossy corrugated cardboard? - The gloss on cardboard contains additives like plastic and clay which are detrimental to the process of making new corrugated cardboard. These products are considered undesirable by the cardboard mills. Transportation costs and mill specifications prohibit us from collecting glossy corrugated cardboard.
- Why do we have to break down our cardboard boxes? - Breaking down your boxes saves time, energy and space. It also reduces the risk of on-the-job injuries to our employees, resulting from struggling with unbroken boxes at the curb. We collect materials in specially designed trailers with multiple compartments. This allows materials to be kept separate from each other. Unbroken, cardboard boxes take up a lot of room. With over a hundred households on a typical route the space allotted on the trailer for cardboard would quickly fill up without your cooperation and the additional time spent at each stop would limit the number of households we could effectively handle.
- Do brown paper bags go with newspaper or should I put them with corrugated cardboard? - Brown paper bags should be placed with your corrugated cardboard. Because they have not been bleached and retain good fiber content they can easily be recycled by cardboard mills. A sack of sacks works well.
- Do magazines go with newspaper? - Yes, you can mix newspaper, office paper, junk mail (please open it to remove sheets of sticky labels and plastic credit cards, etc.), magazines, catalogs and shredded paper together. You can put your phone book on top of the mix so that we can easily separate it out.
- Why do we need to keep phone books separate? - We ask that our customers keep phone books separate so that we can market our paper products to multiple mills. Each mill has different specifications for how many phone books are allowed in the paper mix they purchase. The individual specifications depend on the end product the mills produce. For example a mill that makes newspaper stock might allow only 36 phone books for every ton. So we actually count how many individual phone books are tossed into each of our paper bales. The number changes depending on the mill.
- Why do we have to separate our recyclables when other cities have co-mingled pick up? - The clean, sorted material you set at the curb for pick up can be easily and cost-effectively recycled. Your pre-sorting efforts ensure that the material collected is marketable and will be recycled rather than discarded or used for less beneficial, one-time applications. Pre-sorting reduces the risk of on-the-job injuries to recycling workers who otherwise might have to handle a large volume of broken glass, can lids or unsanitary items. The labor and time involved in sorting volumes of materials can be financially prohibitive for all but the largest and most heavily funded recycling programs. Major cities and large national companies with lots of financial backing have what are called “single stream” programs. These programs allow all of the materials to be mixed together for collection and often then compact it into bales for transport to a MRF (material recovery facility), sometimes located several hundred miles away. At the MRF the bales are broken open and the now compacted material must be sorted into marketable categories. Mixing and processing materials in this fashion leads to a great deal of cross contamination. Anywhere from 6% to 30% of recyclables collected by single stream programs is landfilled because of the high contamination rates.… Read More
- What happens to my material after it’s collected at the curb? - Your sorted material is emptied into different compartments on one of our specially designed trailers. After picking up several thousand pounds of material by hand each day, our hard working crews bring it back to the facility where they offload and combine it with like material collected at the public drop off. In the mornings we have “plastics parties” around the conveyor belts: The same people who pick up your material help sort plastics from steel and aluminum and discard trash that ended up in the mix. Plastic is further separated by type to meet specific market specifications. The material is then baled and stored until sufficient quantity is on hand to fill a shipping truck.* We then arrange for truckers to arrive at the facility and load their trucks with material for delivery to mills and markets. The mills and markets process the material: Glass is palletized into specific colors; aluminum and steel are melted; paper is shredded for insulation or washed and processed into clean newsprint, and; cardboard is ground into new fiber. The recovered raw materials are then either used by the mill or sold to manufacturers for transformation into new products. Successful recycling is a labor… Read More
- Aerosol and paint cans - Recycle aerosol and paint cans Are aerosol cans recyclable? Yes! Just make sure they are completely empty! Put them with your other steel cans. Can I recycle old paint cans? Paint cans are recyclable as long as only a trace of paint remains and it is completely dried. If the can still contains paint, you may take it to the Hazardous Waste Facility at the Mesa County Landfill for recycling. Here’s another trick: Pour the remaining paint onto an old piece of plastic. Once the paint has dried completely, role up the plastic and place it in your normal trash. When the can has dried out you can recycle it.
- Plastics #1, #2, & #5 - Recycling plastics #1, #2, & #5 Why do you only accept #1,#2 and #5 plastics? Other programs take them all! Don’t be fooled into thinking that all (or even most) of the plastic collected by those programs is actually recycled! There are very few domestic (U.S.) markets for plastics numbered 3 through 7. China, one of the principal foreign markets for U.S. plastics, has recently undertaken measures to stem the influx of non-recyclable and contaminated materials hitting their shores. At least for now, “the markets for #’s 3-7 plastics have dried up!” China’s Operation Green Fence is having a tremendous impact on the U.S. recycling industry, leaving shippers of recovered plastics and paper in particular scrambling for end markets for their product. The initiative has made checking in-bound containers of recyclables for non-recyclable waste a top priority for Chinese custom officials looking to cut the influx of trash and contaminants from foreign sources including the U.S. According to one major U.S. materials broker, “Markets for #3-#7 plastics have dried up. …Many processors that (now) accept #’s 1-7 will simply sort the 1’s and 2’s out of the mix and be forced to dispose of the 3-7’s as there are currently… Read More