Expanded Recycling: Reducing Landfill Fees Saves Money for Us All

Disposing of trash is not cheap or easy, despite how it seems from the average citizen's experience: after you casually toss that bag of trash into the bin, the real work (of finding someplace to put it, paying for it, and getting it there) begins. And, once that trash reaches its destination, it'll stay there for a long, long time - plastic bottles, for example, may not even begin to decompose for up to 1,000 years - and possibly leach dangerous chemicals into the land and water nearby. The city of Lakewood spent over three quarters of a million dollars to take care of all of our waste last year, and projections indicate that waste disposal costs will only go up from here. The solution? Less trash. The way to get there: more recycling.

If the costs of throwing things away aren't motivation enough, consider also the resources saved through recycling: recycling aluminum saves over 90% of the energy and resources that go into making a new aluminum product, as well as the pollutants that come out of it. So, by doing a little trash sorting, we can all help reduce air and water pollution and reduce the need to dig, mine, or cut down forests for raw materials. Why create new glass and aluminum products when existing ones can be recycled indefinitely?

Because gains from recycling come from large quantities, all of us need to contribute to making the change. How? By recycling as much as possible, including paper and cardboard, plastics (#1-7), metal, and glass. Because of this, City Council has passed legislation encouraging us all to do our part, and, though fines will eventually be imposed for non-compliance, anyone making the effort to participate will only see the benefits of fewer tax dollars going to waste disposal. There will be a grace period of a few months before fines will be imposed, and even then, they will be a last resort, after educational outreach and suspension of trash pickup until recyclables are sorted out.

To do your part in Lakewood's recycling effort is easy and will become second nature in no time as a part of the transition to the new trash pickup system. When you start using your new trash can, you can keep recyclables in the old one until collection day, then take it all out to the curb for participation in the new system. Rinse out any glass jars or bottles, plastic bottles or other containers (like yogurt cups or microwave food trays), and metal cans and place them in a blue or see-through bag. This can include aluminum foil, soda and water bottles, milk jugs, shampoo and conditioner bottles, plastic grocery bags, or even the plastic trays from packages of your favorite cookies, but should not include any broken glass, styrofoam, or items soiled by food.

For paper and cardboard products, you'll need paper grocery bags or cardboard boxes to fill, or you can tie a stack together with string. Paper products that can be recycled include junk mail, newspapers, printer paper, catalogs and magazines, books, and boxes (like cereal boxes, cracker boxes, etc.), but not anything wax-coated or lined. One big (unfortunate) no-no is the pizza box, which inevitably ends up too grease-soaked or cheese-covered to be effectively recycled. But, if you order from somewhere that lines the boxes with an extra layer so that the grease doesn't soak into the box itself, it IS recyclable. And don't forget those easily ignorable items like toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls.

For more details, consult the city's refuse and recycling page at http://www.ci.lakewood.oh.us/pw_refuse.html, contact the Division of Refuse & Recycling at the Drop-Off Center at 12920 Berea Road, 216-252-4322 (M-F 7am-5pm), and keep checking your mailbox for educational materials discussing the changes.

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Volume 5, Issue 9, Posted 5:36 PM, 05.06.2009