Opinion: Frustration with lack of plastic recycling at the transfer-station/recycling center.

Frustration with lack of plastic recycling at the transfer-station/recycling center.

The most common complaint we hear about our recycling center is the complaint that we are not able, as of yet, to recycle as much at our center as some other towns –primarily the #3-7 “other” (especially #5) (along with the misc. #1 egg cartons and clam shell containers) plastics .  As a committee we have been looking and looking at this as well – as this was a big reason why the recycling education committee was formed in the first place.

Our transfer station does not readily have  extra space to store an additional 20 bales of this product that it would take in order to have this commodity picked up.  The transfer station also lacks for available truck and staff that would make hauling these plastics, in smaller more manageable volumes, to possible destinations of Hopkinton, MA or Eliot, ME practical or even possible.   Keep in mind that in some other communities where these plastics are collected for recycling with a “single-stream” approach that at times these remaining less desirable plastics (depending on the recycling market) are not always recycled in the end and are only sorted out and thrown in the landfill (if there is no market) by the time the sorting process is done.  Many plastics are nowhere near as recyclable, or even down-cyclable as the American Chemistry Council would have one believe.

Currently in Rye we collect about 30 tons of plastics (the #1 and #2 bottles) per year – it is estimated that “if” we collected the other plastics (and we would like to) that these “other”  plastics would amount to approximately 1/10th the volume of the #1 + #2 bottles, or about 3 tons per year.  We collected 28 tons of plastic (#1 and #2 bottles + caps) in 2014 – with these #s had we had found a way to collect the “other” plastics we would have increased the plastics collection by ~ 3 tons but would only have raised the recycling rate from 30.1 to 30.4%.  This is not the secret missing ingredient to raising our recycling rate to  our current goal of 40% as it might at first seem.

We have veered away from “single-stream” for now.  One reason is that single-stream doesn’t cause the consumer any pause when they go to buy product packaged in single use plastic as it makes it too easy.   By going single-stream we would also be saying “good-bye” to most of the revenue we currently receive for recycling.  If we were to stop separating plastics and comingle all plastics (allowing us to collect the #3-#7s) the recycling center would  (based on prices in 2014) lose out on  ~ $5,400 in recycling revenues.

We plan to keep working at this and keep searching for the opportunity which will allow us to expand plastic recycling in Rye.

In the meantime here is information about a recent study/report on  plastics and our oceans – released in February:

Experts Say World Dumps 8.8 MILLION Tons of Plastic in Oceans each year.

http://www.sci-tech-today.com/news/Tons+of+Plastic+Litter+Our+Oceans/story.xhtml?story_id=010000K6XG3W

And a movie along this line you can view on Netflix:

Plastic Paradise https://www.youtube.com/embed/90dTRjZioi8

http://www.on-netflix.com/plastic-paradise-the-great-pacific-garbage-patch/16564

We also have some good DVDs at the library:

Addicted to Plastics http://74.94.179.44:8080/?config=ryepl#section=resource&resourceid=1355116&currentIndex=0&view=fullDetailsDetailsTab

Tapped   http://74.94.179.44:8080/?config=ryepl#section=resource&resourceid=211086&currentIndex=0&view=fullDetailsDetailsTab

The Rye Recycling Education Committee meets each 3rd Wednesday of the month at 6PM at the Library (on the 3rd Thursday during the Farmers Market months of June, July and August).  Please consider attending our meetings as we want nothing more than to further the conversation on  how we can increase the conservation of resources here in Rye.

Thank you,

Recycling Education Committee

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