September 15, 2019-
Several years ago, I had a discussion with some immigrants from the Middle East, about what could and couldn’t be recycled. The focal point was a pizza box, contaminated with cheese and oil. I pointed out that the box could not be recycled, as it had food stuck to it and was saturated with oil, besides. “No matter!”, the loudest opposing voice said, “Back in our home city, EVERYTHING was recycled. The landfill had workers who separated it all out!”
There is a trend now, of cities scaling back their recycling programs, citing “cost” as the reason. Of course, if one has to have a crew separating cardboard with food stuck on it, washing or rinsing cans, bottles and jars and throwing yard refuse, used clothing and dirty napkins back into the general pile, the costs add up. Then, there is the China Card: “Well, China no longer accepts recycling from other countries.” Where is it written that China, India, the nations of sub-Saharan Africa, or any other country has to be America’s trash dump?
We can train ourselves to be more judicious and take the time necessary to rinse out recyclable bottles, cans and jars-both glass and plastic. We can use products like soap nuts, available in quite a few places, for laundry and household cleaning. (https://heddaskincare.com) We can take the time to separate contaminated paper and cardboard from that which is actually recyclable.
The alternative, of course, is to pile the landfills up to the sky, as so many communities in developing nations must do. There is also the option of a price increase-wherein a customer pays an extra $1-3 per month, for “enhanced” recycling services. Sooner, rather than later, the reckoning will be upon us, as any resident of a crowded city in a developing nation could testify.