Eartha Steward: Top five recycling questions
April 8, 2009
Recycling is quite the eco-trend these days, but with so many different types of products, packaging and plastic, it can be overwhelming keeping track of what is recyclable and whats not. It really does matter what you put in the recycling bin, and you can contaminate recyclables when too many of those wrong things find their way into the process. High Country Conservation Center is always here to help. Our recycling hotline 970-668-5703 is the easiest way to find the answers to your recycling wonders. You can also find up-to-date recycling information at http://www.highcountryconservation.org. Some of our most common Q & As are listed below.
We get this question all the time. It all depends on size. Because the plastic lids you find on plastic bottles are so small, they usually get lost when the recyclables are baled at the recycling center (Materials Recovery Facility at the Summit County landfill). We ask that you remove lids before recycling plastic bottles. Also, when you leave the lids on plastic bottles, the bottles retain air and have a harder time compacting when baled. We dont want random lids flying off baled plastic bottles it makes it dangerous for the recycling techs. Serenity Spa and Salon is now taking rigid plastic caps through their Recycle Caps with Aveda program. The program accepts caps that are rigid polypropylene plastic, sometimes noted with a 5 in the chasing arrows recycling symbol. This includes caps that twist on with a threaded neck such as caps on shampoo, water, soda, milk and other beverage bottles, flip top caps on tubes and food product bottles (such as ketchup and mayonnaise), laundry detergents and some jar lids such as peanut butter. You can collect your plastic lids and take them to Serenity Spa in Keystone.
Changing your traditional incandescent light bulbs to CFLs is an effective and simple way to conserve energy and save on your energy bill. However, all fluorescent light bulbs including CFLs and tubes contain a small amount of mercury and must be handled and recycled carefully. You can recycle CFL bulbs at BigHorn Building Materials Center in Silverthorne. Fluorescent tubes must be brought to the recycling facility at the Summit County landfill in Keystone to be recycled and cost 50 cents per tube.
Corn, potato, and other types of biodegradable plastic is not recyclable. With corn-plastics quickly increasing in popularity, many recycling facilities are facing a sticky sorting situation. Corn-plastics and conventional plastics look a lot alike. Sometimes the only distinguishing feature of a corn-plastic is a stamp of biodegradable or compostable and the recycling number 7. In fact, it is very easy to confuse the two if you dont know otherwise. The main problem is that #7 includes other plastics that are recyclable. If you have a large amount of corn-plastics mixed in with soda and shampoo bottles, recyclers have to pay big bucks to sort the materials or face contamination. So please take a second to make sure that your plastic is not supposed to be composted instead of recycled!
Chip and snack bags, soy milk containers, cereal bags, butter wrap, frozen juice cans all of these items are not recyclable at the Summit County drop-off centers. Many types of plastic and foil packaging are termed hybrid packaging. These hybrids are made up of two or more materials such as foil and paper, wax and plastic, or paper and wax. Hybrid packaging can be a contaminating monster when it comes to the recycling process.Please be a good sort. And always remember: When in doubt, leave it out!Eartha Steward is written by Carly Wier, Jennifer Santry, and Heather Dodd Christie, consultants on all things eco and chic at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org.