Clarifying our stance on waste and recycling

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — When we suggested recycling less, we were advocating for creating less waste in the first place, not sending more to the landfill.

In light of a letter we printed in last Sunday’s Observer, we wanted to make that clear.

This summer, the Rio Rancho Governing Body voted to modify the city’s agreement with Waste Management to start picking up recyclable materials every other week to keep increasing costs to a minimum. People who fill up a recycling cart more frequently will need to get a second cart for $7 per month.

We realize that a household of, say, eight people can generate a lot of recyclable waste. Based on our own experiences, though, we doubt many households of six or less will have enough genuinely recyclable items to need another cart.

We worry that some high-volume recyclers may not know what can’t be recycled through Waste Management and are putting items in their carts that Waste Management and Friedman Recycling, the only recycling processing plant in the area, can’t handle. Doing so causes contamination, making recyclables harder to sell to be turned into something useful and possibly forcing otherwise recyclable material into the landfill.

Are you throwing plastic bags or wrappers in your recycling bin? Don’t.

They clog machinery at Friedman. To recycle plastic bags, drop them off in bins at Walmart, Smith’s or Albertsons.

Cardboard food containers like pizza boxes are soaked with grease and juice. Not only are they unrecyclable because of food residue, but they can also contaminate recyclables in the same bin, rendering it all unusable.

Shredded paper, plastic toys, anything metal besides food or beverage cans, and glass also can’t be recycled through curbside pickup.

You can take glass to the Waste Management landfill for recycling. Everything else has to go into the trash or be taken to a different organization, such as Rio Rancho Recycling.

For more information about what’s recyclable through Waste Management, visit support.wm.com.

Also, remember that the process of recycling uses natural resources and creates pollution. It’s a good alternative to landfilling with more trash and mining more natural resources, but it’s not the end-all-be-all of environmental sustainability.

Reusing items keeps them out of the dump and doesn’t generate pollution.

Do you drink bottled water? You can get a reusable water filter and reusable bottles instead of buying single-use bottles.

And those plastic containers from restaurants, or tubs margarine, cottage cheese, etc., come in? Why not wash and reuse them for your leftovers or lunches for work or school?

They can also store small household items.

For spice bottles or tins, glue a couple of good magnets to the back and stick them on the refrigerator or a metal cabinet to hold coupons, pens or other small objects. Glass jars can become vases, desktop pencil holders, hardware organizers, Lego storage containers or Barbie accessory caches.

You can use the blank side of junk mail as scratch paper, and old newspapers make good packing material.

With a little creativity and care, you can be green and avoid paying an extra $7 a month.

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