If your neighborhood has curbside garbage collection, you probably have a separate bin with a yellow lid just for recycling. All of your recyclables go into the same bin in a “single stream”. In my neighborhood, on garbage day, almost every yellow-topped trash can is so full that the lids won’t close. Unfortunately, much of what is in these bins will likely end up in a landfill.
Cynics say waste haulers don’t really recycle waste. While this may be happening in some neighborhoods today due to a temporary labor shortage, the real reason is that local policies governing what is and isn’t recyclable are so complicated that most of us have no idea.
The list of universally recyclable objects is simple: bottles, cans, paper and cardboard. Easy? Not so fast.
The list of what is not recyclable is almost endless: glass, plastic bottle lids separated from bottles, plastic can lids, wet or soiled paper, plastic bags, plastic wrap, bubble wrap, sandwich bags made of plastic, freezer bags, soft wrappers such as chips juice or soup bags and pouches, garden hoses, ropes, leashes, wire and twine, dirty diapers, plastic or wax coated cups and their lids, containers Styrofoam and plastic take-out cups and cups, wax or laminated paper food and beverage containers, electronics, batteries, anything containing hazardous waste, appliances, furniture, books, bicycles, clothing and textiles and almost anything you want to get rid of.
To make matters even more confusing, you can’t trust the Mobius Loop (that ubiquitous little triangle of three chasing green arrows) because it only means that an item “could” be recyclable depending on where you live. . Some recyclable items, such as paper and cardboard, do not bear the symbol at all. And on plastic items, the Mobius Loop may contain a number from 1 to 7 indicating the type of plastic an item is made from. You will need to do some research to find out if your curbside service accepts this particular plastic.
So why not throw it all in your curbside recycling bin and let the pros handle it? Your waste hauler will take it all to an MRF (municipal collection center) where it will be sorted by hand and machine. Some materials such as glass can be dangerous to humans and damage equipment. A jammed bag can shut down the entire MRF. And if you put a dirty pizza box in your bin and it contaminates other items, it will all end up in a landfill.
Fortunately, if you really care about recycling, there is a solution. Just off Roswell Road on Morgan Falls Road, nestled against the hills of Steel Canyon Golf Club, formerly a Fulton County landfill, is the Sandy Springs Recycling Center, a joint project of Keep North Fulton Beautiful and the City of SandySprings. The SSRC accepts many items that you would never consider putting in your recycling bin.
Run by Executive Director Kathy Reed, the facility operates with just four staff, plus volunteers and others doing court-ordered community service. On my two visits there I found it to be a clean and happy place. It also redefined what I thought was recyclable.
At the SSRC, recyclable also means reusable. Besides taking the usual, it also accepts glass, mulch-trimmed Christmas trees, major appliances, anything containing metal that can be used for scrap metal, batteries, and electronics (some for a fee). fees and others by Sandy Springs residents only).
It also has partnerships with other nonprofit organizations that clean, refurbish, and distribute other items that might otherwise end up in the trash to those in need.
For example, an on-site American Kidney Fund truck collects clothing, shoes and small household items. Free Bikes 4 Kidz refurbishes old bikes. Better World Books finds new homes for old books. The Rotary Club of Sandy Springs collects used home medical equipment for FODAC (Friends of Disabled Adults and Children) to refurbish for reuse. And the fats, oils and fats are sent to a company that turns them into biodiesel fuel and glycerine.
Some plastics and papers are sold, financing 30% of the centre’s operating expenses. And not everything is acceptable. To find out what it is, visit https://keepnorthfultonbeautiful.org.
The Sandy Springs Recycling Center is open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily except Wednesday and Sunday. Someone is always there to help you.
The address is 470 Morgan Falls Road. A side benefit of bringing your recyclables there is that if you keep driving you can visit the beautiful Morgan Falls Park.