A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Although we missed seeing it before the holidays, when it would have been more appropriate to mention, an article in Recycling Today eNewsletter still has some timely useful information.

For example, did you know American’s waste generation increases 25 percent per household between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day? This is almost 1,000 pounds of discarded material. I realized it increased, but not to that extent.

Roughly 80 percent of what is thrown away during the holidays could be recycled or repurposed, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The article offered five easy tips to help us make environmentally responsible choices. Although intended for the holiday season, most can apply throughout the year.

These tips were:

  1. Reuse laminated bags and recycle those made of paper.
  2. Make shredded paper out of old newspapers and reuse bubble wrap and Styrofoam peanuts when shipping gifts.
  3. Recycle wrapping paper, including shiny paper, after opening gifts. However, ribbons and bow are not recyclable and should be saved and reused.
  4. Check with your service provider on any special instructions for recycling electronics.
  5. If your recycling service accepts them, make sure paper coffee cups, plastic lids and paper sleeves are empty, clean and dry before recycling.

Unfortunately, on the other hand, some citizens get too taken up with recycling during this period and end up contaminating the recycled materials.

According to the article, the most common nonrecyclables contaminating the recycling waste stream during the holiday season include bubble wrap, cellophane, string, rope, ribbons, bows, batteries, food, clothing, cellphones and polystyrene foam.

Another article, this time from a Resource Recycling eNewsletter, spoke about the change that is happening in the use of cardboard boxes. And with all the cardboard boxes you probably received during the holidays, this might be timely also.

The article started: Just in the last year, Macy’s, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Radio Shack, H.H. Gregg and Sports Authority each closed more than 75 U.S. locations. Even Walmart has closed more than 250 locations worldwide, as it makes an effort to grow its online presence and full-service superstore models.

This made a difference, as these closings and the continued growth of online shopping are creating a massive transition in the old corrugated containers (OCC) recovery market.

The article explained that for many years, clean loads of OCC from large retailers served as a reliable revenue source from materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and others. And with e-commerce growing swiftly, it’s clear that OCC will remain a prevalent portion of the stream.

However, with the increase of curbside cardboard which is “more prone to contamination and sorting challenges” there are also more problems.

Added to this, “the OCC shakeup is coming alongside ongoing declines in generation of newspaper and other high-value fiber grades. That all means the pressure is on the recycling industry to grasp the specifics of this changing market and then effectively pull more boxes out of the residential stream.”

Enough about this in this article for today. We will continue with it next week as we think this change, coming about in recycling cardboard, is interesting and hope you do too.

Till next week, hope you had a wonderful New Year’s Day and it will continue throughout the year...

-- Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or email omaier@txstate.edu.

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666