California is well known as a state that supports green efforts. In recent years, in order to control the production of methane, they have passed a series of laws that mandate the diversion of solid waste. Having determined that 75% of solid waste is generated in commercial facilities, California decided to tackle that side of the problem first, unlike Colorado’s approach which targets the many entities on the residential side first. to expand to businesses, schools and other organizations. California recently extended the regulations to household recycling.
Regardless of which consumers receive the newly mandated services first, education is essential from the start. With an uneducated clientele, contamination levels can even result in recyclable materials being sent to landfill. However, with a little effort, a well-planned and well-presented website, and an attentive audience, it is possible to “recycle well”. What can be recycled locally often depends heavily on location, local laws, and local Materials Recovery Center (MRF) rules.
My youngest daughter, until last Tuesday, lived in Lafayette, located in Contra Costa County, California. Its disposal service was provided by Republic Services[who recently purchased Gallegos Sanitation in Loveland. Gallegos is no longer related to Doering which recently sold to Superior Trash Service, located in Estes Park.]Republic has a good website that lists accepted articles (in 47 states). If you enter your address, an edited list appears. In California, curbside service provided includes landfill waste, recycling, and (recently, by law) composting – NOT INCLUDING #7 compostable PLA plastic – which requires the higher temperatures suitable for industrial composting . [We actually do have an industrial composter in Ault, Colorado, but they do not pickup at our Estes Park curbsides. Eco-cycle (Boulder) also accepts material for industrial composting. Still, it means transporting the food waste down the canyon roads or getting a “backyard” composter. Mine is located in the laundry room.]
I expected her and her kids (now adults) to be VERY aware of all the recent requirements, but, like the rest of us, they just depend on what the carrier’s website says. Most waste hauler websites list what is accepted, but some do not share information about what is DONE with collected recyclables. To my knowledge, with VERY rare exceptions, #6 and #7 plastics are never recyclable. [THE exception is polystyrene (#6) foam in BLOCK form, which can be synthesized(compressed) into building blocks. Eco-cycle has a synthesizer for this purpose.] However, the Republic website’s recyclables list includes plastic #1 through #7, as does Larimer County and Waste Management (WM). There is a reason for this. – The public does not really understand the digital system.
The number inside the triangle on plastic packaging is used to identify the plastic resin, which determines recyclability. #1 and #2 are consistently recycled, everywhere (although shape and size may limit what goes into a single stream), but NEVER microwave them. The California Refund Value (CRV) has launched a deposit and return system of 5 to 10 cents per beverage container, depending on the size. … Polypropylene (#5) is a tough, heat-resistant plastic commonly used for food packaging. Whole Foods participates in the “Preserve Gimme Five” recycling program and most, but not all, curbside carriers and collection yards recycle them. Low density polyethylene (#4) is slightly more complex to recycle, therefore slightly less profitable to accept and also less popular with FRMs. Polyvinyl chloride (#3) contains phthalates; fewer and fewer MRFs recycle them. It’s best to avoid buying plastics #3, #6, and #7. Plastics can be the most confusing, but other materials also have ins and outs, especially in single-flow. It is often easier to simply accept and then bury what is not caught by the sorter. In order to choose the greenest path, we need to fully understand the end result of what we deliver… where.
Accept? To disagree? Feedback.RRRcyc@signsandwishes.com