October 23, 2019

Five tips for recycling properly

Recycling has been in the media a lot lately due to recently placed import restrictions in place from China, the destination of a lot of the country’s recyclable material. The “China Sword” as it’s coined, is a series of bans restricting imports of mixed plastics and paper and requiring unattainably low levels of contamination.

As a result, some municipalities have been forced to landfill or even incinerate their recyclables, which is horrifying to those of us who have taken the care to dutifully rinse out containers and separate them from our trash, sometimes even making special trips to drop-off locations to recycle our waste.

Luckily, residents of Clermont County need not worry that their recyclables are being handled improperly.

The material recovery facility that handles all the recyclables in the area (regardless of your waste hauler) is operated by Rumpke, whose recycling programs do not rely on foreign markets such as China. Through longstanding partnerships with regional manufacturers, Rumpke distributes 98 percent of its collected recyclables to domestic markets and 80 percent to markets in the Midwest.

In short, your recyclables are getting recycled.  However, the state of recycling is still threatened by the large amount of contamination that is making it into the recycling bin.

It’s true that Rumpke makes money off of recyclables, but those recyclables have to be collected, sorted, and baled to be a marketable commodity, and there’s a cost associated with those processes. Adding items to the recycling bin that you think should be recycled won’t actually influence that material to be recycled in the future, it just increases the cost of recycling and makes municipalities question the economics of maintaining the program.  If the amount of non-recyclable materials (i.e. garbage) being placed in the bin keeps increasing, the economics of recycling stop making cents?

Help us maintain the sustainability of recycling by ensuring only the proper items are going in your bin.  Enjoy these five tips for recycling properly and visit https://oeq.net/recycling/ for a list of acceptable items and a map of our public recycling drop-off locations.

  1. Put items in your recycling container loose!
    No plastic bags. Don’t place material inside plastic bags. Don’t place empty plastic bags in your recycling. Plastic bags aren’t accepted in our recycling programs and damage the sorting equipment, but you can take them back to many area grocery/retail stores for recycling.
  2. Avoid “tanglers”
    Items like clothing, bed sheets, garden hoses, chains, ropes, dog leashes and Christmas lights should not be placed in your recycling. These “tanglers” wrap around the automated sorting equipment and cause damage.
  3. Look at the list, not the label.
    Virtually everything has a recycling symbol; however, that doesn’t mean an item can be recycled everywhere. An item’s recyclability is determined by many factors.
  4. When it comes to plastic, examine the shape of the container, not the number.
    Currently, Rumpke can only accept plastic bottles and jugs, which are containers that have a top smaller than the bottom and often have a screw on lid.
  5. Cans CAN be recycled.
    When it comes to metal and aluminum, only put the cans in your recycling container. While other types of metal can be recycled, you should take those non-can items directly to a specialized metal recycler.

Submitted by Hannah Lubbers, Director of Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ) and Adams-Clermont Solid Waste District