Where does your recycling go?
We often talk to our neighboring communities on the west side of the Mississippi River. This last week, we were informed that several cities in St. Louis County received notice from their waste haulers that they will soon stop accepting single-stream recycling.
We immediately reached out to the City of O’Fallon’s waste hauler, Waste Management, who assured us that single-stream recycling in O’Fallon will not be stopped. Waste Management did however ask us to share information with our residents so that single-stream recycling will continue to be a viable service.
The recycling industry is experiencing high levels of contamination — trash in the recycling — at a time when requirements for quality (clean recycling) are increasing due to new policies in China.
Earlier this year, China began to limit the quality and quantity of material it accepts for recycling, impacting the recycling industry world-wide. China is enforcing a 0.5 percent contamination rate on imported recycled materials, whereas the average recycling cart in America has a 25 percent contamination rate. As a result, Waste Management’s focus on quality is higher than ever, as they work to ensure the long-term sustainability of their recycling programs.
When non-recycling items (contamination) end up in your recycling, they have the potential to turn the entire load into trash, resulting in contamination or additional service charges. Many times, contaminated materials are sent to the landfill, instead of being recycled.
Waste Management shared these do’s and don’ts to help with recycling:
- Do recycle all empty bottles, cans, paper and cardboard.
- Do keep foods and liquids out of recycling.
- Do keep plastic bags out of recycling.
- Don’t bag your recyclables. Plastic bags and film get tangled in the machinery.
- Don’t include food-soiled items. They can turn an entire load of recycling into trash.
- Don’t add sharp or dangerous materials like needles and electronics.
- Don’t toss in “tanglers” like rubber hoses and wire.
- Don’t include bulky items like propane tanks or construction debris.
We want to continue to promote recycling in O’Fallon. But, we understand that our trash hauler cannot provide a service that is financially and operationally unfeasible. By taking steps to provide higher quality recyclables, we can help Waste Management keep our world clean (and our monthly rates low).
As residents of O’Fallon, you should always be able to reach out to your elected officials and ask questions about what is happening in O’Fallon. Having open communications is important to me and something I care very deeply about. Thank you for reading, and please remember, my door is always open.