ASK SHELLEY: Wakulla Recycling Update
I recently had the opportunity to ask questions of a representative from Waste Pro to clarify some of the “gray” areas concerning recycling in Wakulla County. It was a worthwhile conversation that resulted in some ideas that I want to share.
Cardboard boxes should be broken down before they are put curbside. It is a courtesy to the hauler for it takes less pick up time. The box may not be picked up if it is not broken down. I was reminded that “dirty waste” should not be put in the bin. A dirty aluminum foil backing dish is not considered a recyclable material due to the fact that it is not clean. An item that should not be placed in the recycling bin will be tagged and returned to the consumer with an explanation of why it was not taken. This takes time and slows down the workers. Be courteous and thoughtful and just don’t put “dirty waste” in the bin at all.
I asked about tin cans that have tops that have been removed with a can opener. Is the lid recyclable?
The Waste Pro representative reported that the lids can be recycled. It is very important that all cans be thoroughly rinsed. Paper labels do not need to be removed. Lids can be recycled but they must be removed from the glass jar. I was surprised to hear that juice pouches or milk cartons can be recycled. The straws that often accompany them should be trashed.
I was reminded that the key to understanding recycling in our county is that they collect only items that result from use for human food consumption. No medicine bottles and prescription plastic containers are accepted nor is wood or metal. One exception I see is cardboard.
I was reminded to watch for the 1 to 7recycling number that is on many packages but, regardless of the number, Styrofoam is unacceptable.
Sometimes I am frustrated with the “scenery clutter” I see in the County concerning recycling bins that are not being utilized and they just sit along the side of many roads. I asked if there was any system in place to get the unused bins back to the company. Waste Pro does not have a system for picking up unused bins at the present time.
My personal request is that for those who have them but are not using them, remove them from the roadside and utilize them for something else.
When asked if people could get extra bins if/when needed, I learned that there was really no plan for providing additional bins. Purchased plastic bins can be utilized for curbside recycling but the bin must be well labeled as recycling so there is never any question when the truck arrives.
The Waste Pro representative feels that Wakulla County citizens do a good job with their recycling program not only in quantity of items but also in the quality of the recycled items. I interpreted this to mean that most citizens take the time to decide if something is an acceptable recyclable product before including it in the bin and has prepared it properly. Presently recycling is not a profitable business but Waste Pro holds items until the market demands or they pay to get the items to interested companies.
Their business is based on providing a service because of the long term impact of doing so. I hope you agree it is the right thing to do for the long term impact on our environment.
My conversation provided a beginning point for further discussion with Waste Pro to clarify the challenges that we confront. It is our goal to do the right thing for both the company that processes our recycled products and for ourselves to fulfill our personal goal toward living sustainably.