BG curbside recycling better, but ongoing improvement sought

Recyclables are processed at Bowling Green Recycling Center.

(Submitted by the Bowling Green Recycling Center)

The Bowling Green Recycling Center has seen improvement in the quality of Bowling Green City curbside recyclables delivered to the Bowling Green Recycling processing facility.

The City is holding people accountable by issuing warnings and violations for improper use of recycling carts.The  City is also working to educate citizens about what is recyclable curbside  by putting new information stickers on recycling carts. This is an ongoing project.

The overall trash residual rate for Bowling Green curbside recycling is still above 12%.  That means for every 100 pounds of material collected in curbside recycling carts over 12# are trash.

It needs to be less.

There are 3 major  issues:

1)  The  most disturbing problem is people who put garbage and bags of garbage in their recycling carts. Things like soiled diapers, moldy bread, spoiled meat, used kitty litter and dog poop are a health hazard to the people at the Recycling Center that separate the items so they can be sent to markets.. Unfortunately, these are not  just one time occurrences. People doing this have to know this is unacceptable.  These are “abusive recyclers.”

The only way to correct this behavior is to impose consequences.

The City and Recycling Center have been working to document households where these problems are occurring and the city is issuing warnings and notices of violation. For those repeat offenders who persist in this behavior, recycling carts can be removed. These people are putting sorting personnel and the curbside recycling program at risk. This is unacceptable.

Garbage can also cause contamination of properly recycled materials when things get mixed.

Recycling needs to be done right or not at all.

2)   A second problem is “wishful recyclers.”, These people put items they wish or hope can be recycled in their curbside recycling bin. Not everything can be recycled– and not everything that can be recycled is collected curbside. For example the only plastic accepted for recycling by Bowling Green Recycling is plastic bottles and plastic jars. Some people put almost anything plastic in their recycling cart. If there is not enough volume and value, materials cannot be recycled. This is the case for  plastic items that are not plastic bottles and jars.  Broken glass is a hazard to sorting personnel and it contaminates other recyclables so it is not accepted curbside.

Glass, shredded paper (in bags), scrap metal and books can be brought to the 24 hour dropoff. Do not put these items in your recycling cart—they cannot be separated on the sorting line and are removed as trash.

Only items accepted curbside may be put in curbside carts.

Those items are newspaper, office paper (not shredded paper) magazines, cardboard, plastic bottles and plastic jars, aluminum cans and steel cans. The criteria for curbside collected material is high volume materials that can be safely and efficiently separated.

3) A third problem is “uniformed recyclers”. These people put recyclables inside plastic bags or include items they think should accepted curbside without following guidelines.

There is not enough time and it’s too labor intensive to open bags –and is there is no telling what will be found inside—diapers, spoiled meat etc. or recyclables.

All bagged materials are considered trash for safety and efficiency.

Some uniformed or wishful recyclers  put glass  in their carts. As mentioned previously this is a hazard to sorting personnel and contaminates other recyclables. Scrap metal in curbside materials is also a problem. Metal items can jam and cause damage to equipment.

Glass and scrap metal can be recycled by bringing those items to the 24hr drop off. Only designated curbside materials may be put in curbside carts. Anything else is considered garbage or trash when it goes up the sort line.

Thankfully, most people want to put only the proper items in their curbside recycling carts. It only takes a few abusive, wishful or uninformed people putting the wrong thing in their recycling cart to cause problems.

Please review what you are putting in your recycling cart and make sure your household falls in the properly informed curbside recycler category.

Please help reduce the amount of trash and unacceptable materials in curbside recycling carts and keep curbside recycling sustainable.

The following is the  new curbside sticker being put on recycling containers which provides guidance for Bowling Green curbside recyclers.

And—Thank You for Recycling –properly!