Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Getting Your Recycling Right

Recycling has been the law in Connecticut since 1991. In 2015 residents and business recycled and composted about 35% of our state’s waste, a rate that has remained relatively flat over the past decade. Each of us is sending about about 4 pounds of trash per day, or  ¾ ton of trash a year to be burned or buried. We can and we must do better.

If done correctly, recycling saves our cities and towns money; recycling costs less than landfilling or incineration. Residential mixed recycling collected curbside or at transfer stations is brought to one of five material recovery facilities (MRF)  in Connecticut. The MRF employs people and technology to separate out aluminum, tin/steel, paper, plastic and glass containers. These materials are processed and baled or boxed and sold to manufacturers looking for those raw materials to make new products.  

If recycling is done incorrectly, it can contaminate the entire batch sending it all to the incinerator to be burned instead of being sold for reuse.

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has issued a universal list of what belongs in your recycling bin and what does not. This graphic has been branded for distribution in New Haven, but the rules are the same whether you live in New Haven or Coventry, Greenwich or Hartford. You can get your own printable guide here. Forget trying to recycle by using the numbers stamped on plastic containers. Use this guide instead. You can read more here to learn why. 

The guide is not perfect. The wording is at times confusing. As an example, what is a “spiral wound container?” But the guide is a good start, and if you have any questions about what is in or what is out, just ask the RecycleCT Wizard found on the RecycleCT website

There’s more…

Just because something is designated as an “out,” that does not mean you should put it in the trash. Check out the site’s “Beyond the Bin” tab. You can either use the “Wizard” or search alphabetically to learn how to recycle items from antifreeze to yoga mats.

FYI For those of you reading this in the New Haven area, you only have a few more dates (October 13, 20, and 27) to get your hazardous waste to HazWaste Central before it closes for the season. To be sure your items are eligible, review the online user registration form. It will save time if you fill out the form in advance, print it out and bring it with you. Since 1990, HazWaste Central has collected over one million gallons of waste from more than 113,000 households. 

Here is something we can do that will make a difference! Just how big a difference depends on how many others we can get to do the same. Spread the word in your home, neighborhood, city. For inspiration check out the materials promoting CT Recycles Day on November 15. 

In the words of the Lorax:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” ― Dr. Seuss