Recycle 101

Pam Boedeker

Jill Burris, Public Sector Representative for Waste Management, was the speaker at the February meeting of SaddleBrooke Nature Club.

She is the third generation in her family to have an interest and career in waste management. Her grandfather and father both had careers involving the ever-evolving efforts to collect and process waste.

Jill oversees 300 HOAs in Arizona! In 2016 SaddleBrooke (HOA 1, HOA 2 and SaddleBrooke Ranch) recycled 1,144 tons of cans, bottles, paper and cardboard. Waste Management estimates that recycling these materials helps create cleaner air by avoiding 3,183 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Members attending this meeting felt they were among the more informed citizens who conscientiously recycle. We found, however, that much has changed and we still had a lot to learn!

Gone are the days when we had to separate our recycle items for pick up. We have moved to what is referred to as Single-Stream Recycling. In this process all recyclables are mixed together in one collection bin. Waste Management separates our trash for recycling. This saves us time but also allows for a greater possibility of contamination. Even water left in a water bottle can contaminate an entire load of paper!

Food waste is the greatest contaminator. Thus all items put in a bin for recycling should be free of food and liquid.

Ms. Burris brought a large recycle bin which had been sawed in half. One half was filled with items that are recyclable with Waste Management. The other half was filled with items that should not be put in a Waste Management recycle bin.

Some common misconceptions include:

Bottle caps do not have to be removed. The idea is that the bottle is empty.

Plastic bags are not to be put in Waste Management recycle bins; however, local grocery stores do have collection points for plastic bags.

Foam cups and food service containers are not to go into recycle bins.

Not all plastics can be successfully recycled.

At this time, when there is more public awareness about recycling, it’s surprising to learn that more non-recyclable items are available than ever before! The trend is toward smaller servings. Single serve coffee containers and food pouches are not recyclable. Smaller plastic containers are too small or not shaped for recycle machinery.

At the end of the waste cycle ideally there will be products that can be sold at a profit for the waste industry. The commodities market determines what is of greatest value for resale. At the present time paper is the most valuable followed by metal, plastic, food and glass.

The waste industry is working with manufacturers and consumers to create an awareness of recycling and help create more recyclables.

The Waste Management website is one source for further information.

SaddleBrooke Nature Club is growing. Occasionally we will move our monthly meetings to the Golder Ranch Fire Facility. Please check our website for location of future meetings;