Ray Bryars: Recycling: there’s so much more we can do
August 30, 2018
A recent Waste Management request to the City of Grass Valley to allow an increase to recycling fees and to fine those who "contaminate" their recycling bins was very sensibly challenged by Grass Valley City Council.
A major complaint from Waste Management was that the community was not properly recycling. Thankfully, council member Jason Fouyer suggested that rather than fines, Waste Management should educate customers so that they could correctly sort their recycling. Great start, but more can be done.
In a recent column in The Union by Susan Rogers about this meeting, it was indicated that Waste Management can only recycle plastic materials that are identified by a 1 or a 2 — who knew? Reading this encouraged me to start looking more closely at the plastics that we regularly use and I was shocked to find that very, very little has a 1 or 2 inside the recycle triangle.
So what is Waste Management, and the rest of the recycling industry, doing about this?
Nevada County is known for protecting the environment, appreciation of healthy food and sustainability, so why aren’t our local businesses insisting that all plastic packaging materials are recyclable?
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From what I can see, nothing!
Why can't there be a nationwide movement to make all plastics recyclable? Or at least move towards making more 1 or 2 packaging. I'm sure there are many reasons why we have seven categories, but if my Nancy's yogurt container can be a 1, why is my Muir Glen "Organic" Tomato Ketchup a 7 or why doesn't my Bud Lite cup that I got at the fair even have a number? Can you imagine how many beer cups got tossed in the trash rather than recycled? Come on Fair Board, you can do better than this.
Thank you, Newman's Own, for putting your Marinara Sauce in a bottle marked 1. But what about all the other plastic packaging that we can barely remove from the items we buy? Why can't they be 1 or 2? It's crazy! Why do we allow such a variation in packaging? It should all be recyclable. Shouldn't it?
Waste Management is an extremely large company. Their 2018 second-quarter revenues were $3.74 billion. You would think that a company this large would have some clout in the packaging world. Why aren't they pushing back on the plastics industry and lobbying representatives in Washington to make sure that all plastics are recyclable? I checked out their website and clicked on the Sustainability Video, hoping to learn a little about what they are working on. Unfortunately clicking "play" did nothing. Maybe this is a message?
Nevada County is known for protecting the environment, appreciation of healthy food and sustainability, so why aren't our local businesses insisting that all plastic packaging materials are recyclable?
Why isn't BriarPatch insisting that all packaging materials are recyclable?
My recollection is that all beverages at SYRCL events are served in recyclable cups, so why can't others? How about we start with all events at the fairgrounds or all nonprofit events? Someone needs to raise the bar or at least shine a light to show what can be done.
It's time for the county to start lobbying the state to ensure that all our plastic packages are recyclable. Does the county have any say on what is sold in the county? Or does that only apply to marijuana?
I sure hope that someone, or many "someones," with a lot more influence than I have can get together to start a movement that at least makes all "food" packaging plastics recyclable.
It's the right thing to do.
Ray Bryars lives in Nevada City.