November marks the second anniversary of Butte Silver Bow’s important Community Recycling program.
Through this program residents have the opportunity to place certain recyclable materials in bins at three locations that have been set up by the Public Works Department. These bins are serviced and collected by McGree Trucking. McGree in turn contracts with AWARE Recycling to process the materials.
I am pleased to report that over the past two years, this program has kept over 1.5 million pounds of material out of our landfill, therefore extending its useful life. Thank you and congratulations to all who have participated to make this program a success.
Like any worthwhile endeavor, there is always room for improvement. The economic environment for community recycling programs across the country has become challenging and many programs are struggling and many have been forced to close. Most of the challenges to sustainable community recycling are beyond our control. The biggest factor however is totally within our own control, and that is the materials placed in the recycling bins.
You see, the biggest factor in the success or failure of community recycling programs is the commitment of recycling users to put into the bins only those materials that can be recycled. The truth is, in today’s recycling environment, there are only a handful of materials that fit that bill. Those materials are: paper, cardboard, and #1 and #2 plastic.
Each collection site in our program has bins for these three materials and they are clearly marked. It is imperative that only these three materials be placed in the bins. We plan for additional signage at each site and bin to make this clearer to citizens. To put it simply, no Styrofoam, no metal, no wood or yard waste, no electronics, no books, no clothing, no organic material of any kind, and no plastics other than #1 or #2. Remember, no to anything other than paper, cardboard, or #1 and #2 plastic. Most plastic has a recycling triangle with a number on it. In the case of plastic bottles, that number is usually on the bottom of the bottle. #1 plastic bottles would normally be drink containers like water, juice or soda bottles. #2 bottles would typically be milk jugs or something like detergent bottles.
Plastic shopping bags cannot be placed in the recycling bins. They should be recycled at the grocery store where you acquired them, and most stores have a bin for this purpose. Also, plastic sheeting, bubble wrap, and other kinds of plastic film are not recyclable.
Metal and aluminum cans cannot be placed in the community recycling bins. Metals can be recycled at Pacific Steel and Recycling at 905 Gaylord Street, and also at H & H Recycling at 804 S. Arizona Street. AWARE Recycling accepts aluminum cans at their facility at 640 S. Arizona Street.
Let’s celebrate the success that we have achieved with our community recycling program by depositing only those materials that will allow the program to be sustainable.
-- Dave Schultz is director of the Butte-Silver Bow Department of Public Works.