Cedar Rapids faces the same challenges in its recycling programs as the rest of the globe and country. Mark Jones, solid waste superintendent for the city of Cedar Rapids, gives some helpful hints and education about recycling.
Jones said a challenge that recycling programs face regularly is when items that don’t belong in recycling damage a facility’s equipment.
“Those things get wrapped around the axle and bind it up, and it will actually shut down the process line. Somebody has to go up there and literally cut out that item or material,” he said.
Items that do not belong in recycling and can cause damage include string, plastic wrap, plastic bags, hoses, strands of holiday lights, pizza boxes, Styrofoam, gift wrap, ceramic dishes, mirror glass, aluminum foil, containers that still have food residue and lithium ion batteries, which have caused fires in the recycling facilities before.
If you find yourself questioning whether your item is to go in recycling or trash, Jones and others in the industry say: “When in doubt, throw it out.”
Jones said three things to remember when recycling an item are to make sure it is empty, clean and dry, as it makes for a better product.
This allows markets or major entities like China that are willing to buy recycling products to know they are getting a better quality product. Plus, contamination rates will be lower.
He also stresses that yard waste bins are for that purpose only. Yard waste is an organic material that can be composted. Garbage and recyclable items do not belong in yard waste containers.
To have a successful recycling program, it has to be collaborative and the community has to work together.
“It really does start with our customers. We rely on them heavily to provide good-quality recyclables,” Jones said. “If we can all work together, it will just keep those markets more sustainable.”
For more information on recycling programs, garbage collection and the neat and cool things they do with these programs, visit www.cityofcr.com/garbage.