“Recycling has become so complicated, why even bother anymore?” and “This is so much work, is it worth all of this just to save some trash?” These are two statements that any EcoGeneration volunteer has been asked countless times. As the individuals handling the ‘more complex’ streams of plastic and other hard to recycle materials, we more than understand your sentiments. However, we will always assert, that yes it is worth the effort to ensure that we preserve resources for future generations. Regardless of your stance on Climate Change, I think we can all agree that there are benefits to appropriate waste and material management in terms of resource usage. This collective goal of ours is worth the time, investment, and effort. Through appropriate waste management, we are able to save so much more than just the tangible resources. We are able to reduce our dependence on oil, reduce our dependence on destructive forestry practices around the world, work towards a sustainable future without an earth overshoot day, and be able to enjoy our natural environment free of litter. This list is definitely not exhaustive, however I think that we are able to recognize some of the tangible benefits of recycling. At EcoGeneration we would love to help you recycle the right way, with the least amount of effort. The first step in this process, is to know what you can recycle comingled in Cottage Grove-whether its curbside or at the Lane County Waste Management Transfer Station.
Cottage Grove Garbage Company Curbside: In your curbside bin you are able to discard mixed paper and cardboard. It is important to note several exceptions to this list, as there is always going to be exceptions. All mixed paper must be clean. Paper items such as drink cups, paper plates, napkins, tissue, pizza boxes, and frozen food cartons are NOT accepted for recycling, and neither is shredded paper. When thinking about disposable paper products, its important to know that things like cups and tableware generally have plastic that you cannot see in the paperboard. This is also true for the majority of frozen food cartons. They may feel like paper, however, this is just not the case. Pizza boxes are not currently accepted for recycling as they have a high degree of contamination. Milk cartons are also not accepted for recycling.
You are also able to recycle clean tin cans, with the lid still attached. If you attempt to recycle lids that are not still attached to their cans, it is likely that it will become contamination in the paper stream, and end up being sent to a landfill by a papermill. Lastly, clean aluminum cans and foil are also able to be discarded in your curbside bin. For best practices, you should ball up your foil, and only discard it when you have more than a softball sized ball of foil. If you want to recycle clean food grade glass bottles or jars, they should be set next to your recycling bin. Glass cups, plates, bowls, windows, candle jars, and/or candle holders are not recyclable and can contaminate the glass cullet. You are also able to set out up to 5 quarts of clearly marked used motor oil (in its original container) to recycle. This too should be set to the side of the curbside bin.
The Lane County Transfer Station in Cottage Grove also accepts all of the above. Here, you should keep your carboard separate, so that it can be maintained in a single recycling stream. You are also able to drop off clean transparent milk jugs in the commingle bin. White milk jugs are not accepted here for recycling. Which is a great segway into what you cannot recycle in curbside or at the transfer station. Items that consist of plastic cannot be recycled in commingled curbside recycling at all. The transfer station will happily take your clear milk jugs and that is all. That seems to leave an awful lot of recycling on the table.
This is where EcoGeneration is working to fill the gap in the community. EcoGeneration is able to assist residents recycle their household plastics. Due to the complexity of recycling plastics we will discuss this in September. If you would like to learn more about recycling plastic, I encourage you to review our website at ecogeneration.org or join our Recycling with EcoGeneration group on Facebook. This month, I would like to leave you with a question for critical thinking. How does waste contribute to our greenhouse gas emissions? We encourage you to check out our Facebook page to learn more about the importance of recycling reframed into a greenhouse gas perspective and read our blog (posted today) about how waste management matters in a climate concerned society.