Friday, March 01, 2013
Recycling Policy Meets Reality
There's policy, and then there's reality. A recent posting by the county in the local paper stated what has been stated many times before in multiple media, that recyclables put on the curb in plastic bags will not be picked up.
In practice, the bagged recyclables are picked up, and though the bags may cause some problems at the sorting plant, occasionally getting tangled in the machinery, the inconvenience is apparently not enough to trigger any enforcement of the policy.
Enforcement might entail leaving the bagged items on the curb, with a note explaining why they weren't picked up. But that would slow down the crews and require additional staff time by office employees to handle ensuing complaints from homeowners.
The styrofoam here is not on the official list of allowed recyclables in Mercer County. It can, however, be readily recycled, and its bulkiness will take up space whether it's hauled to the landfill or the sorting plant for recyclables.
As can be seen, all of these prohibited recyclables were picked up, and all my research to date suggests that the items will end up getting recycled.
These photos also show how problematic the current 35 gallon green and yellow buckets are, as homeowners' recyclables outstrip the buckets' limited capacity, and the empty buckets roll around in the wind, blocking foot or car traffic.
Replacing them with one 95 gallon rollout bin per homeowner would provide more capacity, easier transfer from garage to curb, protection of recyclables from rain and snow, and maybe even reduced motivation to put recyclables in plastic bags, thereby bringing reality a bit more in line with policy.
By the way, the RecyclingNJ.com website, with a link above to their info on styrofoam, appears to be very comprehensive and useful for anyone with questions about recycling.
Posted by Stephen Hiltner