Res­i­dents need to keep eyes on re­cy­cling cities

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE - let­

With all due re­spect to re­porter Dave Hughes, how do we know if Fort Smith now has a re­cy­cling pro­gram? Peo­ple thought they were re­cy­cling be­fore when all they were do­ing was pulling a cart to the curb. Just be­cause you put a cart on the curb does not mean the con­tents will be re­cy­cled, made into a new item.

Elected of­fi­cials all across this coun­try need to make unan­nounced vis­its to their lo­cal re­cy­cling fa­cil­i­ties and see what is be­ing dumped from the re­cy­cle trucks. Do you think if Fort Smith had been pro­vid­ing Green Source Re­cy­cling, its re­cy­cling con­trac­tor, with clean, sorted re­cy­clables, the city would have been turned away?

Sin­gle stream is a mess. It was ini­ti­ated by the garbage haul­ing in­dus­try, an in­dus­try whose bot­tom line de­pends on our con­tin­ual over-con­sump­tion. Cities and non­prof­its jumped on board be­cause “ev­ery­one else was do­ing it.”

Sin­gle stream has be­come a costly re­cy­cling method, Aaron C. Davis re­ports in the Wash­ing­ton Post. “By push­ing to in­crease re­cy­cling rates with big­ger and big­ger bins — while de­mand­ing al­most no sort­ing by con­sumers — the re­cy­cling stream has be­come in­creas­ingly pol­luted and less valu­able, im­per­il­ing the eco­nom­ics of the whole sys­tem,” he wrote in 2015.

Since sin­gle stream is wreak­ing eco­nomic havoc, I asked some end-users/re-man­u­fac­tur­ers (com­pa­nies mak­ing new prod­ucts from col­lected re­cy­clables) why they don’t speak up against sin­gle stream. One end-user said they feared their com­mod­ity be­ing pulled from curb­side pro­grams since the garbage haulers now con­trol most re­cy­cling pro­grams.

The glass in­dus­try did speak up, and guess which com­mod­ity has been pulled from pro­grams around the coun­try. I asked an end-user in the pa­per busi­ness what they thought would hap­pen be­cause of the sin­gle-stream mess. He pre­dicted more trees would be cut and the pub­lic would never know, since there is so lit­tle ac­count­abil­ity/trans­parency in re­cy­cling.

When Fayet­teville ran their sin­gle-stream pilot, I was not al­lowed to view the plas­tics col­lected. Ask your al­der­man to con­firm or deny whether there were rats jump­ing out of the truck used to col­lect the re­cy­clables in the sin­gle-stream pilot.

If you do a few Google searches, you’ll un­der­stand why I ask if the fol­low­ing de­scribes re­cy­cling in the fu­ture?

1. Glass will be used as daily land­fill cover by the very en­ti­ties who lead pay­ing cus­tomers to think it is be­ing re­cy­cled.

2. Plas­tic and pa­per will be burned up in a waste-to-en­ergy plant by the very en­ti­ties who lead pay­ing cus­tomers to think it is be­ing re­cy­cled.

3. Card­board will be the only com­mod­ity kept sep­a­rate and clean, due to the high de­mand for it from in­creas­ing online sales.

4. Land­fills (filled with garbage and re­cy­clables) will be­come power gen­er­a­tors via methane col­lec­tion, un­be­knownst to ci­ti­zens who think they are pay­ing for re­cy­cling.



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