Despite the new curbside recycling offered in some of the largest communities in Lorain County, the earth-saving practice seems to have hit a bit of a snag.
In the July 17 Lorain County commissioners meeting, they lamented this fact and spoke about how the public needs to be made aware of the various restrictions on what can be recycled.
The problem is, according to the commissioners, with three different companies providing waste hauling services in the county, it’s hard to keep straight what is recyclable.
Tiffany Barker, marketing coordinator for the Lorain County Solid Waste Management District, said the issue isn’t that people are not recycling, but that often the materials people are attempting to recycle are contaminated.
This is not just a problem in Lorain County, but nationwide, Barker said.
“You have your standard recycling, your one through seven plastics, your glass spaghetti sauce jars, your corrugated boxes, cereal boxes, your cake mix boxes, your aseptic containers which would be that waxy coated milk carton or juice boxes, those are all recyclable,” she said. “The contamination comes in two different forms.”
The first form is when a container hasn’t been completely cleaned out and still contains food residue, Barker said.
The major offenders in this case are peanut butter jars and greasy pizza boxes.
“It’s hard to get that out,” Barker said. “It requires a lot more effort than just swishing out other containers.”
The other form of contamination is when non-recyclable items are mixed in with the recyclables, Barker said.
“For example, hard plastic children’s toys are not a curbside recyclable item,” she said. “People put plastic garden hoses in their recycling bin because it’s plastic.
“However, it’s not a curbside recyclable plastic. It’s a different form of plastic that isn’t being utilized on the backend in our area.”
The three local waste haulers are Republic Waste Services, Rumpke and Kimble, and each has handy tools on their websites which can clear up much of this confusion.
Republic is the waste hauler for Amherst, Avon, Brownhelm Township, Camden Township, Carlisle Township, parts of Columbia Township, Grafton Village, Henrietta Township, Kipton, LaGrange Township, LaGrange Village, Lorain, New Russia Township, North Ridgeville, Sheffield Lake, Sheffield Village, South Amherst, Vermilion, Wellington Township and Wellington Village.
Its website, republicservices.com/recycling-guide breaks down the list of items that can be recycled into five groups.
Paper items include newspapers, envelopes, junk mail, phone books, brochures and magazines.
It adds that pre-shredded paper items should be put in a paper bag before being placed in your curbside bin.
Cardboard items that can be recycled include ream wrappers, file folders, poster board, frozen food boxes, cardboard boxes and milk cartons.
Remember though, if there’s still grease at the bottom of your pizza box, just toss it in the normal trash.
Plastic items that can be recycled include milk jugs, water and soda bottles and shampoo, soap or detergent bottles.
The site advises the prospective recycler to check the bottom of plastic containers for a number inside the recycling arrows. It accepts plastic numbers one through seven.
Aluminum and metal items that can be recycled are beverage cans, food cans and scrap metals.
The site advises that recycling a single ton of aluminum cans conserves more than 1,024 gallons of gasoline.
Glass recycling is a bit more limited than the rest, as it only advises to recycle beverage containers and food jars.
It adds that you can recycle both clear and colored glasses.
Republic’s website also lists items that should not be recycled which includes appliances, batteries, bubble wrap, Christmas lights, coat hangers, diapers, electrical cords, food waste, food wrap, garden hoses, plastic bags, rubber balls, sports equipment, stuffed animals, Styrofoam, syringes, razor blades, tires, waxed cartons, wood and yard waste.
Republic also has a handy tool at recyclingsimplified.com that includes more information.
Kimble only services Avon Lake.
Its website, kimblecompanies.com/what-we-recycle, has a more simplified list of what it recycles.
Kimble recycles all newspapers, all colors of glass, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastic jugs and water and “other bi-metal products.”
The company cannot recycle paint cans, batteries, Styrofoam, anti-freeze or motor oil containers, light bulbs, wire hangers, toys, wax cartons, plastic bags and plastic utensils.
The site offers an easy recycling guide which is available at kimblecompanies.com/Content/uploads/Recycling-with-Kimble-Guide-2090.pdf.
Rumpke services Amherst Township, Brighton Township, parts of Columbia Township, Eaton Township, Elyria Township, Grafton Township, Penfield Township, Pittsfield Township, Rochester Township, Rochester Village and Sheffield Township.
Its website, rumpke.com/for-your-home/recycling/acceptable-items, lists what can and cannot be recycled.
Glass bottles and jars of all colors, aluminum cans, steel cans and lids, empty aerosol cans with the lids and tips removed, newspapers, magazines, cardboard, mixed office paper and envelopes, paperboard like cereal boxes, pizza boxes without food debris or grease, telephone books, catalogs and food and beverage cartons.
Rumpke has a bit more involved process for recycling plastic bottles.
It’s looking for bottles and jugs that have a small mouth and wide base which are empty, crushed and have the lid reattached.
Rumpke is asking residents to not recycle plastic bags, cassette tapes, bed sheets, hangers, metal chains, garden hoses, batteries, needles, syringes, electronics, polystyrene foam, buckets, butter tubs, car parts, food, yard waste, light bulbs, drinking glasses, ceramics, pots, pans and scrap metal.