LAURINBURG — Reduce, reuse, recycle — that has been a motto for many for years in hopes of helping the environment. But while many use their blue recycling bins properly, some are using them instead for trash, causing issues for those collecting.
In the United States, there seems to be a collapse in recycling, according to Recycle Across America. The reason for this is due to the high contamination levels due to the public throwing garbage into the bins and crippling the economics of recycling.
Recycle Across America stated that the process to remove contamination reduces profitability, driving up the cost of recyclables and preventing many manufacturers from reusing recycled materials.
Scotland County is not immune to this, with City Sanitation Crew Supervisor Tony Strickland saying that it takes a lot of manpower for the crews to have to deal with the trash.
“It’s time-consuming and it hurts us a lot,” Strickland said. “We probably get about a ton a week of trash or items that can’t be recycled. We sort it then have to take it to the landfill and pay for them to take it, which is about $48 a ton and that doesn’t include any of the manpower from us.”
If the sanitation crews do see that someone is improperly using the recycling bins, they leave door hangers explaining to the homeowners as a warning. Strickland says that, after the third time, if the resident continues to use the recycling bin for trash, the city can fine them $25.
Some things that can be collected as recyclables include plastics 1 to 7, newspaper, magazines, mixed paper, corrugated cardboard and clear, brown and green glass. The city also collected used oil as long as it is secured in a plastic container with a tight cap and is placed beside the recycle bin on the ground.
Some items that Strickland sees a lot of in recycling bins are air-conditioning filters and cereal boxes. Many people think that they can recycle cereal boxes, but since the boxes are not corrugated cardboard it’s not recyclable.
At the county’s recycling center there isn’t as much trash going into the bins as in the city.
“We have maybe 1 to 2 percent of items that are put in the bins that aren’t supposed to be there,” said Scott Parks, the solid waste enforcement officer. “Our attendants work to keep the bins clean and make sure nothing is contaminated.”
Parks added that almost anything can be recycled. The county recycling sites offer recycling options for car batteries, paints, pesticides, washing machines, electronics, clothes and more.
A full list of the items that can be recycled can be found on the county’s website under recycling and solid waste while the list and pick-up times for the city can be found on the city’s website under Public Works.
Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]