Going for Green in Lyons
By Kathleen Thurmes
“I have always been so confused; if a plastic product has the recycling symbol on it, does that mean it can be recycled, or does it depend on where you live?”
This is a question we hear all the time at Eco-Cycle, and no wonder. The recycling symbol, particularly on plastics, can be misleading since you’ll find it on almost all plastics. But not all plastics are recyclable. That’s why you should always trust your local recycling guidelines, not just the symbol.
Why can’t we recyclers just all agree as to what is or isn’t recyclable? The recyclability of a product is dependent upon a lot of variables—like the region and transportation costs of getting a material to a buyer, the recycler’s relationship with buyers, their sorting technology and their ability to sort to the buyer’s specifications, etc.
If only it could be as easy as “look for the recycling symbol, and toss it in the recycling bin.” Ideally that WILL be the case in a Zero Waste world. Imagine that every product has a recycling symbol for the recycling bin, a compost symbol for the compost bin, maybe a “take back” symbol for a product designed to be taken back to the manufacturer, and nothing is designed for the trash can. THAT’S what we’re working toward.
But for now, the onus is on the consumer to follow local guidelines to “recycle right.” Here in Boulder County, our plastics guidelines basically go like this: we will accept plastic bottles, tubs, jugs and jars as well as berry containers (please remove any linings) and flat tub lids such as yogurt tub lids. Screw-top plastic lids and caps can be replaced on empty plastic containers. All these items can be mixed together and taken to the Lyons drop-off recycling center. But please, NO PLASTIC BAGS, Styrofoam or disposable cups.
We ask that all containers be empty of food and liquid residue since food and liquids are our top contaminants. People will be sorting your recyclables, so issues like mold and rodents and stinging pests who are attracted to liquids and food become a real health issue. Food and liquids will also end up on the paper, and the paper buyers do not want to buy rotting paper.
Because our community is full of conscientious recyclers who follow guidelines rather than just recycling symbols, the Boulder County Recycling Center has a reputation for producing clean loads of glass, paper, plastic, and metals that manufacturing companies want to buy. We thank you for that. Please keep it up! You can find detailed recycling and composting guidelines at www.ecocycle.org.