The City of Des Moines will leave your recycling carts curbside if the stuff in the cart is obviously wrong.
A Des Moines recycling company diverted 20 tons of recyclable paper a day to the landfill this summer.
For many central Iowans who take the time to sort through their trash — pulling out glass, plastics, aluminum and paper — it was a hard pill to swallow.
And many are asking: Is it worth the time to recycle items if some just end up in the landfill anyway?
Yes, says Leslie Irlbeck, the public affairs manager for Metro Waste Authority.
Even though some recyclables ended up in the landfill over the summer, she said, curbside recycling carts still extend the life of many items that otherwise would require humans to mine, cut or create from scratch.
“Rather than making products out of virgin materials, we’re able to re-use products that have already been made at some point for another purpose,” Irlbeck said.
Metro Waste Authority provides curbside recycling services for Des Moines’ suburbs.
More: Paper recycled by Des Moines residents was diverted to landfill due to lack of buyers
Plus, recycling saves landfill space, which in the long term saves money, she said.
Kathy Morris, director of the Waste Commission of Scott County, said recycling values have plummeted in recent years — a ton of recyclables that averaged $134 in 2017 dropped to $63.05 in August
An improper item in a Des Moines recycling bin. (Photo: Special to the Register/City of Des Moines)
But Morris points to other numbers to illustrate recycling’s impact.
Since Bettendorf and Davenport went to single-stream recycling in 2016, the program has saved more than 114 million kilowatts of electricity, more than 491,000 trees and more than 286,000 barrels of oil.
“It still is very valuable to our community and the environment,” Morris said.
West Des Moines resident Sandy Greif called Metro Waste Authority on Monday to ask whether she should keep recycling.
Irlbeck assured her that MWA does all it can to prevent recyclables from entering the landfill.
Her pep talk worked.
“I’m going to continue to recycle,” Greif said.
Confused? Here’s what you should do
Sandy Greif did exactly what Leslie Irlbeck hopes any confused MWA customers do: She called and asked for help. Suburban residents can also view an online recycling guide at www.mwatoday.com.
Des Moines, which handles its own curbside recycling, also boasts an online recycling guide. The city also runs a “Gold Level Recycling” program, in which city staff will audit your recycling to determine if you’re a super recycler.
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