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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Sunday, December 1, 2019

As we approach the end of the year, some nice recycling news — although I wish it was better — from a Resource Recycling newsletter.

In an article titled, “EPA reports slight increase in US recycling rate,” we find the national recycling and composting rate has increased to 35.2 percent. Unfortunately, the report does not include 2018 nor 2019, but only the latest data they have compiled.

They compared the data they had gathered in 2015 to that obtained in 2017. It showed an increase in municipal solid waste (MSW) recycling and composting from 34.7 percent in 2015 to 35.2 percent in 2017 —not a lot, but at least it’s an increase.

“For a number of materials — including paper and paperboard, glass, ferrous metals, aluminum, plastics, and textiles — the recycling rates decreased between 2015 and 2017. Increases were seen with other non-ferrous metals, rubber and leather, wood, other materials, food waste and yard trimmings,”the article said.

In a chart showing what percentage of some materials were being recycled in 2017, here are a few of their figures:

  • Paper & cardboard: 65.9%
  • Glass: 26.6%
  • Ferrious metals: 32.7%
  • Nonferrious metals: 66.1%
  • Yard trimmings: 69.4%
  • Food waste: 6.3%

I also thought total weight recycled were some interesting figures in 2015 compared to 2017.

“Total weight recycled increased from 91.0 million tons in 2015 to 94.2 million tons in 2017, up 3.5%. Weight burned for energy recovery increased from 33.6 million tons in 2015 to 34.0 million tons in 2017, up 1.4%. Weight landfilled increased from 137.6 million tons in 2015 to 139.6 million tons, up 1.4%.”

They also noted the total amount of waste generated in the US; which was 267.8 tons in 2017 or 2.2 percent more than in 2015. This means what each person generated increased from 4.48 pounds each day in 2015 to 4.51 pounds in 2017. That’s not necessarily the amount you generate personally, but the amount generated to produce everything you buy and use.

Enough about that as I know most of you are wise in how much you buy/use, and you recycle as much as you comfortably can. Now I’ll go to another item which can be a concern with buying things for the holiday gifting season. It concerns the use of lithium-ion batteries in many things we now buy.

Although these batteries are more powerful and hold their charge longer than the older types, if not handled properly, they can cause a fire or even explode.

Because of this problem and the fact that one of them caused over $8.5 million damages to a MSW plant in California, that state is now considering a law requiring the manufactures of such batteries to include a label on them reflecting the dangers possible if not recycled properly.

They are also looking at the possibility of requiring such batteries to be a different color than most other batteries.

Another option would be to have them only recycled at e-waste facilities rather than just putting them in the general recycling containers. It will be interesting how it all pans out as more and more of us are buying devices with these batteries.

Till next week, do have a great one...

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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.

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