That is a pretty bold statement for someone from Keep Kingwood Green to make. After all, we are all about increasing the amount of recycling in the Lake Houston area. Recycling, though, is a very thin margin business. What does that mean? It means that any extra costs incurred in the recycling process may make the whole business unprofitable. We all know from news media reports that the City of Houston has a budget crisis. If recycling costs them money they may decide some day to stop doing it. Wouldn’t that be awful if the thousands of tons that are now being saved started going to the Atascocita landfill?
The city puts 10 huge recycling bins at the Kingwood Metro lot every weekend. There are separate bins for cardboard, colored glass, clear glass, metal cans, plastic bottles and paper. The advantage of designated bins is that the materials can be processed straight into bales and be shipped back to a factory where they are quickly made into new recycled materials. If unacceptable items are mixed into the bins, then at the MRF (multiple recycling facility) they must be sorted out and most likely will be trashed. This costs extra money and may be the difference between making a few dollars or losing money.
Last week while I was recycling at the Metro lot, I saw a woman putting cardboard boxes into the paper bin. I mentioned to her the bin was only for paper. Her reply was that it didn’t make any difference since it all goes to the same place. The process is different, though. Paper does not make good cardboard, and cardboard does not make good paper. Sorting it out does cost money. If it made no difference, why would the city go to the expense of bringing separate bins for the two different commodities?
Another thing you can do to help the economics of recycling is to stop putting film plastic in any of the bins. This includes the trash bag you bring the items in. Dump the contents in the bin and take the trash bag home for another use. Almost all grocery stores, Lowe's, Target and Wal-mart collect this type of plastic at their front doors. By dumping the contents, more of the proper commodity fits into the big bins, reducing transportation costs. Also, no one has to empty the trash bag at the MRF so that the film plastic does not get stuck in the machines that sort the materials.
If you are lucky enough to have curbside recycling you can mix all contents into one bin; however, you still should never put any film plastic bags in the bin. They are death to the sorting equipment at the MRF.
Hopefully this gives you something to think about. Are you recycling right?
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