RECYCLING DONE RIGHT BY MANJULA CARTER
T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY
The U.S. produces about 34.5 million tons of plastic waste each year; that’s enough to fill the Houston
German cosmonaut, Sigmund Jahn famously said, “Only when I saw the Earth from space, in all its ineffable beauty and fragility, did I realize that humankind’s most urgent task is to cherish and preserve it for future generations.” Despite these words of caution in 1978, destruction and pollution of the environment have continued at an alarming rate. The United States produces about 34.5 million tons of plastic waste each year; that’s enough to fill the Houston Astrodome 1,000 times! When a discarded plastic bag or bottle ends up in the ocean, it erodes into tiny plastic particles. These particles form a vortex of debris called the Pacific Garbage Patch, which is now more than twice the size of Texas! The particles are ingested by aquatic animals and birds with devastating effects. Faced with such a huge global problem, it might seem impossible to make a difference, but sometimes the solution to enormous problems begins with one simple step. We can begin by generating less waste and learning to recycle correctly. Each year, hundreds of thousands of tons of U.S. plastic waste are being shipped to other countries for recycling. Anywhere from 20 to 70 percent of the plastic entering recycling facilities around the globe is discarded because of contamination. Most of us are familiar with the recycling symbol of three chasing arrows. Contrary to what most of us believe, not every item stamped with this symbol is recyclable. The plastics industry introduced the symbol in 1970. It was developed, using the numbers one through seven inside the triangle, as a method to show the grade of plastic and to indicate its recyclability. Plastic grades one and two are the most widely recyclable and include plastic bottles, milk jugs, laundry detergent containers and other similar items. Grades three through seven are soft plastics and are much less consistently recyclable in the United States. Most curbside recycling programs collect paper, cardboard and plastics in the same bins and send the collection to sorting and processing facilities. The mixing of materials and different plastic grades makes sorting a challenge to the recycling process. Some items are composites of multiple materials that do more harm than good when put in curbside recycle bins.
Astrodome 1,000 times!
Some things are bigger than Texas…
Like the Pacific Garbage Patch off the coast of California.
R E C Y C L I N G D O N E R I G H T
T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY
SO, WHAT CAN WE RECYCLE? Here is a list offered by Waste Management:
• DO recycle plastic bottles, jugs, and containers, rinsed out with caps screwed on tightly. Loose caps fall through sorting screens and end up in the trash.
• DO recycle rinsed out food and beverage cans. There is no need to remove labels.
• DO recycle all paper.
DO NOT RECYCLE • That disposable paper cup from your favorite coffee shop is most likely NOT recyclable! They line these cups with a thin plastic coating that is almost impossible to separate from the cup itself.
• DO recycle flattened cardboard and paperboard.
• DO recycle food and beverage cartons, rinsed out with caps screwed on tightly.
Remember that food waste, plastic bags or film, and Styrofoam products have no place in the recycle bin. Other items to keep out of the curbside bin are glass bottles or containers, batteries and electronics, clothing, and yard waste. Curbside recycling is offered to residents of Texarkana, Texas by Waste Management. Texarkana, Arkansas residents do not have curbside service, but can take items to the Recycling Center located at 2601 Dudley Street. The New Boston Landfill offers free recycling for a variety of electronics including cell phones, computers, and printers to all Texarkana residents. You can find out more information about recycling procedures at www.wm.com and www.earth911.com . Waste Management reported from January through May 2020, Texarkana residents generated 4,449 tons of waste. Of this total, 551 tons were recycled (12%) and 674 tons was yard waste (15%). So, the total diverted from landfill was 1,225 tons (22%). This is the environmental equivalent of keeping 385 cars off the road and saving 200,441 gallons of gasoline! While it may seem like pollution is an overwhelming problem, too big for individuals, these numbers show how even our simplest efforts can make a difference. Now more than ever, we all need to do our part! The future of the planet is in our hands.
• Toothpaste tubes may have a plastic exterior, but they are often lined with other materials such as aluminum.
• Toothbrushes have hard plastics in the handle, but soft plastic bristles.
• Clamshell containers, such as the ones containing strawberries at the grocery store and most takeout containers from your favorite restaurant, have soft plastic in the hinge and a harder plastic shell.
All these items should be kept out of your curbside bin.
Are you a socially conscious person who has been “helpfully” putting recyclables in a plastic bag before placing them in the curbside bin? It turns out that plastic bags are the number one enemy of recycling facilities. They quickly degrade and clog up expensive sorting equipment. Instead, use your well-intentioned efforts to put recyclable items directly in the bin and take plastic bags to your local grocery store recycle station. Waste Management is the company that manages curbside recycling for the City of Texarkana, TX. Greta Calvery, WM Public Affairs Manager, says, “the most common contaminants in curbside recycling are foam cups and containers, glass, clothing, and food.” She explained, “Clothing can wrap around equipment and conveyor belts at the recycling facility, shutting them down. In Texarkana, recycling carts that are heavily contaminated are tagged and the contamination must be removed before the recycling facility will accept it.” This is one more obstacle that slows down the entire process.
R E C Y C L I N G D O N E R I G H T
RECYCLE RIGHT SM
Plastic Bottles & Containers Botellas y envases de plástico
Food & Beverage Cans Latas de alimentos y bebidas
Glass Bottles & Containers Botellas y envases de vidrio
Flattened Cardboard & Paperboard Cartón y cartulina aplastados
DO NOT include in your mixed recycling container: NO incluir en su contenedor de reciclajemixto:
NOBatteries – check local drop-off programs for proper disposal NO baterías - Verifique los programas locales de entrega para su correcta eliminación
NO Food or Liquids NO comida o líquidos
NO FoamCups & Containers NO vasos y recipientes de poliestireno
NO Loose Plastic Bags, Bagged Recyclables or Film
Empty recyclables directly into your cart NO bolsas y envolturas de plastico sueltas, o materiales recyclables embolsados Vacié directamente losmateriales reciclables en nuestro carrito
NO GreenWaste NO desechos verdes
NO Clothing, Furniture & Carpet NO ropa, muebles y alfombras
#Recycling101 ©2019WM Intellectual Property Holdings, LLC. The Recycle Often, Recycle Right®recyclingeducationprogramwasdevelopedbaseduponnational best practices. Please consult your local municipality for their acceptablematerialsandadditionaldetailsof localprograms,whichmaydifferslightly.
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