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Mar 22

Recycling Better

Posted on March 22, 2019 at 10:30 AM by Kristy Bansemer

You may have heard recently that recycling household items has become more difficult across the United States because the primary place U.S. recyclables go is China, and China is now rejecting shipments of plastic and other recyclables that are too contaminated with food waste or other foreign matter.

Lucky for us, Derby partners with Waste Connections (WCI) to collect recyclables, and WCI takes many recyclables to several U.S. businesses. Glass goes to McPherson, while paper and cardboard go to Hutchinson. Aluminum cans go to Alabama, and tin cans go to Indiana. All these are processed into useful products to be sold.

In Derby, we have a great single-stream recycling program, but we need to be careful not to include things that are not on the list of accepted items, like plastic bags. They clog up the conveyor belts and other machinery used in the sorting and recycling process. Try re-using your bags instead.

One of the most common offenders is a greasy pizza box with cheese stuck on the cardboard. Put it in the trash!

Please empty your plastic bottles before putting in the recycling bin. It’s best to rinse out your cans, glass jars and plastic bottles before recycling in Derby. When our program began in 2009, this was not required. But now we’ve learned we need to reduce our level of contamination, so rinsing is highly recommended and much appreciated. I’m throwing my plastic peanut butter jars in the trash now—just too much trouble to wash out.

Because of changes in recycling markets, it’s best to focus on recycling plastics #1 through #4. While plastics #1 through #7 have been accepted in Derby since 2009, those labeled #5 through #7 are no longer able to be recycled. So just toss ‘em in the trash. And don’t feel guilty about it. Keeping worthless items out of recycling bins prevents contamination and keeps costs down. 

Derby is fortunate to have access to curbside pickup of recyclables. Your participation in the program makes a difference. I encourage you to join me in taking more care to reduce contaminants in recycling bins.

Kathy Sexton
City Manager

Published in the Derby Informer on March 20, 2019.