Monday, February 8, 2010

Giving Plastic a New Life

A ban went into effect on October 1, 2009 requiring all plastic bottles such as soda bottles, milk and laundry detergent containers, etc. to be recycled rather than tossed into the garbage.  This posed no problem for the folks of Winston-Salem.  City residents have been recycling at a rate of 84%.  The city's curb-based recycling program makes that easy.  It is not so easy for people outside the city limits where there is no curbside pickup.  One company is working to make recycling available for their customers.  Rural Garbage Services, Inc. which services eastern Forsyth Co. is currently providing that service for free, with pickup of recyclables on regular trash collection days.  Chris Parrish, president, says he has been an environmentalist and recycling for years, and will continue to provide this service until there is a better solution.

While the ban on disposing of plastics is difficult to enforce, it does encourage recycling.  The success of this can be measured by the amount of plastic collected.  For the one-year period from September 2008 - September 2009, collection averaged 14,000 lbs. per month and increased to 19,000 per month for the first three months following the ban.  

There is a huge market for plastics to recycle, and North Carolina has some of the largest processors, with a new plant under construction in Fayetteville.  With one out of two bottles going to China, it leaves the US fighting for recyclables  The ban should help us retain more for our own use.  There are many items made with recycled plastic such as flower pots, strapping, tiles, plastic furniture, and yes, even new plastic bottles.  

While there is an expense to collecting and recycling these items, and a it is a much discussed issue between city and county officials, it does help extend the life of our landfills by not filling them with unnecessary items.  

So please help give used plastic a new life.  Reduce, Reuse and Recycle today.  For more information see the full story in the Winston-Salem Journal, or my original post on the ban.

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