Friday, May 10, 2013

Reader Question??

I see on sites like yours that you accept most plastics 1-7. Why is it that where I live they take only #'s 1&2?  I even know they bring it to you. Should I throw it in the bin anyway and let them figure it out.. since obviously they can be recycled?

Thanks!  Kaylee

You are not alone Kaylee, I have heard this question frequently. A local township or drop off center has the ability to decide how they'd like the recycling in their area handled. They can determine what type of program best fits their residents. Plastics #'s 1&2 are typically the most common and highly recyclable plastic, with a steady rebate (when kept separated, clean, and contaminant free). A lot of thought typically goes into the decision of what items they will allow for collection.

1. Cost: The number one factor is typically cost. We'd like to pretend that the environment is all that matters but in a time when budgets are being cut and programs dropped or suspended, money plays a very important factor in how the recycling will be handled. Officials cannot be faulted for needing to work within a budget (so this contains no negative implications).

2. Participation/Demand: Perhaps a township starts with a "complete"  plastics recycling program accepting  all numbers but the majority of the material that they received were 1's and 2's. On the other hand sometimes they take the cost and the advice of others in mind and test out the waters (if they don't get significant requests to take more types) they'll continue to keep it small and easily manageable.

3. Goals: Many times coordinating the recycling in a township or borough can be the "leftovers". Smaller areas do not usually have specified waste coordinators and the position gets piled on someone who already has a pretty full load. The worst part of someone having to take on the leftovers is that they may not have a whole lot of knowledge on how it could be best handled, or even how to find out. Based on what they are required to do may determine their goals and how the recycling in the area will be handled.

4. Knowledge: Knowledge goes quite well with goals because without proper knowledge of what could be available you can't set proper goals. Some officials tasked with recycling and waste collection have ensured that they are quite educated on the matter others may not know exactly how or what is done after the items leave, or how they could optimize their impact and potentially rebates (or decrease costs).

5. Staff: More aggressive recycling programs require better "policing" of the bins and materials accepted. When you open it up to most plastics you start to get everything with no filters. Just because they'll accept #7's does not mean that they'll accept toys or other items with metal.Metal contmination is one of the more common issues which results in the plastic item being thrown away (most processing facilities don't have the time, tools, or staff to remove the metal). In some smaller communities they just don't have the budget or staff to include any additional recycling related costs. They could not bare the burden of contiminated materail being rejected (due to garbage being throwing into the recycling bin by residents; even if it's with positive intentions).

I hope that helped shed a bit of light on what some areas list as recyclable in their community. With the above being said I wouldn't recommend going rouge and throwing material in the bins that they are asking to keep out. They may be rebated for the material and constant contamination could be source of trouble for their bottom line and possibly the recycling program as a whole. If you are really concerned about them providing more recycling options for other plastics in your area call your township and let them know. They would be able to give you the best insight on way they've chosen the current setup. If they aren't able to change you can always take your recyclables to a recycling center that allows residential drop offs. We are one of those facilities but we still will not allow you to drop off "junk" all plastic items must be free from metal and any other "non-plastic" contaminants, this allows the material to truly be recycled.