Last month we discussed what you can recycle curbside and comingle at the Cottage Grove Transfer Station. We are happy to report that many have come in and grabbed decals for their recycling bins. We hope that this helps promote how to recycle right in town. As noted, plastics of any kind are not allowed in the curbside comingle recycling bin, and only #2 HDPE translucent milk jugs can go in comingle at the transfer station. So what are we to do with all that plastic that we get when we buy pretty much anything? The solution throughout the county currently is to recycle with a Lane County Community Collector. EcoGeneration is Cottage Grove’s collector, but we expanded way beyond the county’s current 2/4/5 plastic recycling system.
EcoGeneration is able to recycle all sorts of materials, through our network of recycler, upcyclers, our own desire to see items reused/repurposed, and our own determination to reimagine waste. This has allowed us to recycle items that were never intended to go into your curbside recycle bin. Packaging such as toothpaste tubes, caps, plastic film (including clean wood pellet bags), cigarette waste, and many other items one wouldn’t consider recycling.
The most contentious point many have is that recycling needs to be clean, dry, and in many instances label free. Thankfully our desire to see a world with less waste lead us down the road to TerraCycle, and this is a huge reason we are able to recycle odd items such as cigarette waste, toothpaste tubes, floss containers, over-the-counter medication bottles with labels, makeup containers, makeup brushes… the list goes on and on. For more information on specific streams, visit our website for a complete list (ecogeneration.org). We also encourage everyone who wants to bring us their recycling, to stay up to date with any schedule changes using our Recycling with EcoGeneration Facebook group.
In terms of most packaging, it will likely find its way into the 2/4/5 stream. This stream creates a lot of frustrations, likely due to the label free, safety seal free, and in some cases the removal of the lip of the container (calling out the tofu containers). We understand your frustrations, as we too have taken off countless labels and sliced more containers that anyone can imagine. We really like to try and work with individuals to learn the most appropriate way to recycle without discouraging them.
If all this sounds like too much work, then I would like to highlight the most common and easiest items that we can recycle. We can accept all juice containers fully rinsed out. We would prefer that you remove the labels if you can, but will not reject a juice jug/bottle because of the label. Another item that is immensely easy to recycle would be translucent milk jugs. Just rinse them out and bring them to us. Other items we generally try to not reject are yogurt containers. We ask that you work to remove the whole foil seal but are again more workable on these (especially if they are the family sized ones). While, we are on the topic of yogurt containers, did you know that some brands like Chobani have a plastic film outer label shrink wrapped onto the tubs?
The best advice we can give, is to be vigilant consumers as well as knowledgeable recyclers. Knowing what we can recycle provides a road map into what containers and types of packaging are more ‘renewable’, and I am using this term very, very loosely in this context. Plastic should never be considered renewable as it is almost always downcycled when submitted for recycling. This is why reuse and repurposing attempts should come prior to recycling everything. The intention by labeling some plastics as ‘kind-of-renewable’ is so that consumers can actively avoid waste that is costly to recycle or impossible to recycle. Hopefully, as we continue our collective ventures, we at EcoGeneration can teach you to Reduce where you can, reuse when possible, repurpose or reimagine the waste as something useful, then recycle. It is far more ecologically sound to keep using the same things, than to engage in a continuous recycling circle.
Fun Monthly Tip: Did you know that it is better to reuse grocery store bags as a garbage bag, than it is to recycle it? This commonly practice reuse of plastic film reduces the need to create garbage bags, often times from a virgin plastic resin. There are some bags made with a portion of recycled plastic, and while this is an excellent thing to purchase if necessary… it doesn’t make too much sense to ship off a perfectly good bag to be melted down and a new bag be created partially from it.