The Recycling of Utah Coalition Conference recognized Recycle Utah earlier this month during their meeting. The conference is a broad network of recyclers that meets on America Recycles Day which is November 15th. Carolyn Murray has this report:
The network includes businesses, non-profits, education organizations and recycling centers like RU. Executive Director of Recycle Utah, Carolyn Wawra said they were nominated by one of the affiliates in the Utah Recycling Coalition.
“We were nominated by Interwest Paper who takes all of our cardboard and plastic. They’re always very impressed with how clean our loads are. So, that’s in thanks to all you committed recyclers in Park City, you know, sorting everything when you come in. WE kind of got that award, you know because we are doing things right and we’re keeping things really separate and clean. And, in today’s tricky markets, that’s kind of the only option we have to remain super competitive and insuring everything gets recycled.”
Park City Lodging also received an award for their recycling and sustainability practices.
“But we did nominate Park City Lodging for the work they’ve done. And they’ve done a lot of things like diverting waste to saving water in the way they wash their laundry to like instead of using the single use conditioner and shampoo, to like a big pump in the room. So, they’ve done a lot of great things. So, they came down to the conference with us and everybody got to accept the award and to talk about the work they’ve been doing.”
The Recycling Center can use volunteers during the week after Christmas. They close for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
“Yeah, if you’re looking for volunteer hours. If you have court ordered service or a volunteer program like NHS. WE love volunteers, especially the week after Christmas. If you want to do anything from being inside the paper bin, sorting out ribbons and bows, to directing traffic to even helping load the bailer or the compactor. We would love to have you. So, reach out to email@example.com if you’re interested in helping us out. It is our busiest time of the year.”
The US has been shipping recycling to China but in 2017, their contamination requirements changed.
“What we were giving China and what they were trying to do with it…and they weren’t processing it very well. Sometimes, if they weren’t able to find a solution, the best solution as to dump it in the ocean, which is not okay. So, it is a good thing that china decided back in 2017, we were serious about contamination and we’d like to fix our rates. They were taking things up to about 25 percent contamination. Contamination is not exactly dirty. Its materials are mixed up. You know, a bail of cardboard is maybe only 75 percent cardboard and 25 percent something else. That’s not really good. That’s giving them something that is really hard to work with.”
Wawra thinks global recycling will get better in the next three to five years. She said the recycling marketplace is tricky but most of the product is staying in the intermountain west. She said fewer and fewer countries are using China for recycling.
“About a year ago, they went to .05. Again, that’s a struggle for global markets to work with. And, it’s really challenged recyclers within the US to start to find solutions in the US. And, that’s really the silver lining in this whole story. New things are opening up. There’s a new container opening up in Denver. You know, some things are opening up in California. We’re getting a lot of more local options. Which I think is a good option because I think as a country, we need to be dealing with the waste ourselves. So, the fact that China has enforced the rules, has made the US become more competitive. I think that’s a good thing. I’m optimistic about where the markets will go.” Wawra said there is a difference between clean and contaminated. “We recommend about 90 percent clean so if you’re washing out that peanut butter container, you know, if you’ve given it a good rinse and gotten most of the peanut butter out, it‘s probably good enough. You don’t have to have it see through clear. And then there’s contaminated. You know, your curbside bin would be you’re putting glass in your curbside bin. Glass is not allowed in curbside. The same thing with plastic bags. The same thing with styrofoam. So, with these tricky markets, cleaning your items isn’t as important as putting the right items in the right bins.” Curbside recycling is finicky about contamination. Wawra said the sorting line used by Republic Waste in Salt Lake City is run by humans and machines and everything should be loose when households use curbside bins. She recommends removing plastic tops from things like milk cartons. “If you’re recycling ends up in your curbside bi, inside a plastic bag, that plastic bag is probably getting in the sorting line and just getting picked up and thrown away.” Carolyn Wawra is the Executive Director of Recycle Utah. For questions about recycling, contact the center at 435-649-9698 or on line at recycleutah.org.