Just because a product or package carries the universal recycling symbol or says it's recyclable doesn't mean it can be recycled where we live. "This is the confusing truth behind the big and complex recycling industry and product manufacturing codes in America," says Rachel Leonard of Double J Recycling.
Double J, a local waste management company out of Austin, has recently taken over providing drop-off recycling services for the North Fork Transfer Station Recycling Center. Waste Management provided the service at the station last year, but Double J beat them out this year by offering a lower monthly cost to the county and demonstrating a solid record of quality service.
Now in its second year of offering free recycling, the North Fork Recycling Center is generally busy and containers fill up rapidly. But not always with the right things. When emptying the containers for the first time last month, Double J employees noticed mass contamination in the commingled container for plastics, tin, and aluminum.
"Nearly a quarter of the items in the 2,400-lb. load were dirty and soiled — peanut butter and mayonnaise jars half full — and there was a load of styrofoam takeout containers and plastic bags.
We had to throw more than 500 lbs. of recyclable stuff in the landfill."
Leonard added, "Contamination wastes time, money and environment. Beyond adding more volume to the landfill, it takes Double J a great deal of time to hand sort through the items ... and all it ultimately means is less space in the containers for those who are conscientious about recycling."
Joanna Calabrese, a staff member at the Western Slope Conservation Center who serves on the Delta County Recycling Committee, explained, "The county is fronting the cost of the free recycling drop off service at the North Fork Transfer Station, which is still in a 'pilot' phase. They are hesitant to continue the service for free or low-cost in the future unless they see that is it a properly utilized service."
"We see from this contamination that people want to recycle as much as they can. It's great that people are recycling. Now we just have to be informed about what is and isn't recyclable so that we can do it right and show the county that it is a service worth continuing."
Tips for proper recycling in Delta County:
• Rinse recyclables clean of all residue;
• Cut and post the chart below on your refrigerator or recycling bins. It is also available online at www.
• Print and post the Delta County 2012 Recycling guide for quick easy reference to all of the locations in the county to recycle electronics, appliances, large equipment, yard waste and other items.