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We need to be informed recyclers

By Staff | Aug 26, 2018

Do you recycle?

I do. I have always tried to recycle as much material as I possibly can.

When I was a kid we recycle items if we could find a use for them ourselves. There wasn’t any citywide recycling programs back in those olden days.

Then I remember being the chairman of the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Recycling Committee back in the 1980s.

Our main goal was to both educate the public that they should recycle newspapers as much as they could, and to try and help recycling companies to find new uses for recycled newsprint.

Our plan worked. The amount of newspapers being recycled went from a moderate percentage to a very high percentage after about 10 years or so.

We couldn’t take all the credit, of course. Cities, counties, states and the whole country were getting on board with recycling programs, so that really helped.

I was pretty happy when curbside recycling came to my town where I was at the time. It made it a lot easier than hauling it all to a collection center.

My son, who lives in California, still has to take all his recyclables to a main spot, an unused parking lot, and then sort it and put it all in the specified bin for that type of item. Glass in one, plastic bottles in another, and so on.

The good news for him is that one of the bins is for small electrical items, from radios to toasters.

We used to have to sort our recyclables, too, don’t you remember. Then we got the large bins and could toss it all in together in the same bin.

I guess a recycling center somewhere or other has people who sort it all out and send it off somewhere where it is made into something else again.

At least, that is my hope.

But, listening to Chris Cyphers of B & B Sanitation talk at a recent Blue Earth City Council meeting was an eye opener.

Not everyone in Blue Earth, it seems, understands what recycling is really all about.

Cyphers says his crews are having to sort through the material in the bins they pick up because of the large number of items inside that are not recyclable.

And, he wasn’t just talking about an occasional wrong plastic item, he was talking about garbage.

Yes, it seems people toss in anything they want to get rid of, including actual garbage.

Just last week they found a bunch of old flannel shirts in the recycle bin. Now, you can recycle clothing, but it goes in a large bin in front of Juba’s SuperValu.

They found a bunch of shingles in a bin last week as well. And lots and lots of junk.

Please people! It’s time to learn what is, and what is not recyclable.

B & B Sanitation has a list of items, and trust me, shingles and other construction material is not on the list. Neither is styrofoam, which is an items they find a lot in the recycle bins.

Lots of items now come packaged with big styrofoam pieces holding the item in place. While the cardboard is recyclable, the styrofoam is not.

It has to go into the garbage.

One thing that surprised me, and Mayor Rick Scholtes, was the fact that pizza boxes are not recyclable, if they have been contaminated by the greasy pizza. If there is a wax paper sheet in the box that you can through away, then yes, but if there is not, then probably it can’t be recycled.

In fact, any item that has been contaminated by food items is not recyclable.

Cyphers says he has been ‘fined’ $200 for delivering too much ‘contaminated’ recycled material in the past.

His comment about determining whether an item is recyclable, is, ‘when in doubt, throw it out’ into the garbage can.

A lot of people I know have the exact opposite slogan, ‘when in doubt throw it in the recycle can and let them sort it out.’

So, what is the solution to this issue? As I stated before, it behooves all of us to educate ourselves on what we can, or cannot, recycle.

And, it would be a really good idea if the B & B Sanitation and the city send out another copy of that list of what is acceptable to recycle. It came out about a year ago when B & B took over the recycling route in Blue Earth, and I believe they are considering doing it again.

Secondly, please try to then recycle as much and as often as you can. Maybe you can even start buying more items in recyclable packaging. Just look at the emblem on the bottom of the container.

And, whatever you do, please put this copy of the Faribault County Register that you are reading right now into the recycle bin after you are done reading every single word in this week’s issue.