Letter for Monday, July 5, 2021

Clean recycling good for everyone

Recycling has been shown to be an effective way to limit our opala. But the industry is suffering some growing pains. In an effort to get as many households to recycle as much as possible, early recycling standards were loose. So pizza boxes with tomato sauce and oil were dumped into the cardboard bin, and dirty diapers were mixed with plastics. All of this contamination added to the labor of separating recyclables, which added to the cost. Many recycling centers, especially in China and SE Asia stopped taking many plastics and papers altogether. Sometimes the level of contamination in a container of cardboard was so high, that the entire container would be scraped.

So if we want to be good recyclers, if we care about the health of our ‘aina, we have to put more effort into limiting contamination. A cardboard oatmeal container with a plastic lid does not go into the cardboard bin without taking off the lid first. Six pack containers with mac and cheese spilled on them go into the trash, not the cardboard. Tossing bottles still in the six pack container into the glass bin contaminates the glass. Dirty cardboard is dirty cardboard. It is not recyclable.

Visitors need to do your part too. You may have lax recycling requirements at home, but please respect our need to clean and separate. Don’t toss your “to go” food containers into the cardboard bin with food still inside. Don’t toss ketchup, mustard, and other condiment packs into the plastic bin, with or without the condiments inside.

Let’s be akamai about recycling. In the end, it’s really about the kids.

John Patt, Koloa

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