It hasn’t been easy, but virtually every large city and most towns have a recycling program. Some of them involve City-supplied bins and procedures. Others are a loose affiliation of private contractors and weekly pickups and/or drop-off spots. But lately, recycling has gone to the next level. Some cities have mapped out plans to have up to 90% diversion of their garbage from landfills. There are new waste treatment centers that process live waste into useable compost. And they even turn the methane gas that is a byproduct of the composting into usable energy. That’s recycling the recycling, and pretty cool.
The level of adoption and the burden of recycling comes down to the people who consume the food and packaging. That would be you and me in the back alley on garbage day trying to sift through the week’s remainders.
One obstacle to mass adoption is the resistance to rules. It seems there are a number of ways that local ordinances try and make order of the recycling mess. First, there are the separators. These rules are picky about which plastic, paper, glass or cans can be in the same compartment. Some cities require that the recycled materials be loose —not collected in a plastic bag. Other laws talk about the state of the the recycled items and if they are to be washed or not. The idea is that if we all process our trash the same way it can be automatically processed and avoid hand-sifting. In reality, the rules on trash are often ignored and serve to discourage those who are ‘called out’ and have their recycling attempts refused by the trash collection professionals. But don’t be so quick to throw the rules of recycling in the garbage. Try it!