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Where Will Our Recycles Go?
Old 04-02-2019, 12:06 PM   #1
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Where Will Our Recycles Go?

China is no longer accepting our recyclables. Recent articles are saying it's too expensive to recycle and all garbage will go to landfills. D/H and me have this giant garbage bin and 2 bags of garbage every week. We have more recyclables than garbage.

This made me think of the James Bond movie where they smashed up a car to a tiny square of metal. Can't we do that with garbage? C'mon engineers, I know you're out there.
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Old 04-02-2019, 12:20 PM   #2
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Same for us - some weeks our recycle container is too full to close the lid, and the trash bin is 1/4 full. And we can't even recycle glass in the weekly pick-up.

Calling all engineers!
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Old 04-02-2019, 12:22 PM   #3
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I think a lot depends on the material and the location. Aluminum is almost always economical to recycle, steel is also pretty good. Paper is generally not valuable enough to be worth doing, but maybe has enough fuel value as a fuel to gather up ("carbon neutral" to burn it, as the carbon in it was already previously in the air as CO2. Same logic as using algae to make biofuels. For whatever reason, this logic doesn't get applied to coal.)
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Old 04-02-2019, 12:24 PM   #4
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Ski Fresh Kills!

Fresh Kills, for those who do not know, was for many years NYC's trash dump location. It closed after becoming the highest point along the east coast.

If it were not trash, it could be used as landfill to boost islands and coastal cities higher in the face of rising ocean levels. Being trash I imagine the residents of those locations would find the idea too unpalatable.
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Old 04-02-2019, 12:29 PM   #5
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I think a lot depends on the material and the location. Aluminum is almost always economical to recycle, steel is also pretty good. Paper is generally not valuable enough to be worth doing, but maybe has enough fuel value as a fuel to gather up ("carbon neutral" to burn it, as the carbon in it was already previously in the air as CO2. Same logic as using algae to make biofuels. For whatever reason, this logic doesn't get applied to coal.)
Right. Buy aluminum can drinks and they'll recycle. But their price has gone up.

The problem is plastic. Most of us grew up in the age of glass drink bottles that were washed and reused. That's the best solution. Problem is it isn't cheap. And lazy customers don't like deposits and return.

Cheapest for the drink companies is plastic, plastic, and more plastic. Then more plastic. Maybe even more plastic. And then after that, plastic.

Plastic doesn't recycle worth squat.
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Old 04-02-2019, 12:30 PM   #6
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Where's your Tesla now, eh?

Dr Emmett Brown showed us the solution. If it's good enough to power a Delorean time machine, it's good enough for me.
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Old 04-02-2019, 12:35 PM   #7
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The phrase "reduce, reuse, recycle" is in that order for a reason. Recycle has always been the least effective and most expensive option of the three.

Even when China was still taking everything, how much additional impact is made by trucking it across the country, then shipping it across the pacific.

For those who recycle for environmental purposes, time to look into reducing and reusing.

I know, harder said than done. I'm staring at you, 15 empty lacroix cans in my blue bin.
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Old 04-02-2019, 01:15 PM   #8
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Dr Emmett Brown showed us the solution. If it's good enough to power a Delorean time machine, it's good enough for me.
Groveton NH has a company recycling many plastics into heating oil. They appear to be doing well, they continue to accept plastics from surrounding communities.
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Old 04-02-2019, 01:18 PM   #9
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We do a lot of online ordering, so we receive lots of cardboard boxes. I see trucks carrying huge loads of stacked and bundled flattened cardboard on the highway. So I hope its getting turned into more boxes.
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Old 04-02-2019, 01:45 PM   #10
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This made me think of the James Bond movie where they smashed up a car to a tiny square of metal. Can't we do that with garbage? C'mon engineers, I know you're out there.

Only problem with that scene, was that Lincoln would still have been in excess of 5,000 lb, whether it was in its original shape, or squashed into a cube the size of a washing machine. In real life, it would have squashed that little Ranchero like an egg when they dropped it into the back of it!


As for trash in general, don't the trucks compact it down, before taking it to the dump?
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Old 04-02-2019, 01:49 PM   #11
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The biggest problem is styrofoam. Most types of it are technically recyclable but almost no one accepts it. There is one facility over the hill in the suburban Portland area that will take it, so if we have room in the car when we head that way, we try to get there and recycle what we have. But it is a real pain.
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Old 04-02-2019, 01:49 PM   #12
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Bacteria can't easily break down something that's squashed too tightly.
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Old 04-02-2019, 02:08 PM   #13
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The phrase "reduce, reuse, recycle" is in that order for a reason. Recycle has always been the least effective and most expensive option of the three.

Even when China was still taking everything, how much additional impact is made by trucking it across the country, then shipping it across the pacific.

For those who recycle for environmental purposes, time to look into reducing and reusing.

I know, harder said than done. I'm staring at you, 15 empty lacroix cans in my blue bin.
Things have changed substantially with recycling in the last year or two, not many people are aware - most folks in my neighborhood. I just watched some neighbors on nextdoor.com outraged that WM took their recycling to the landfill - that's been happening off and on for years due to personnel issues, or bales of "recyling" piling up at sorting centers. Continued 'wish-cycling' is making the problem worse, the new catch phrase seems to be 'when in doubt, throw it out' but few know that. Plastic water bottles and plastic grocery/store bags have greatly exacerbated the problems.

It's just two of us, but our weekly trash is the equivalent of 1-2 paper grocery bags per week most weeks. When I walk the neighborhood I see household trash containers brimming with trash every week, some households have two trash cans (not recycling) - and we have the HUGE 95 gallon trash containers in our neighborhood! Granted most are families with 3-6 people but still 95-190 gallons of trash per week!!! It's just not necessary.

There is a lot we can do to easily reduce and reuse, most people don't bother - still. Preaching about it is usually met with cold stares or worse, so I don't ever.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-ame...tag=MSF0951a18
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Old 04-02-2019, 02:08 PM   #14
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Part of the recycling issue is whether or not there is a local market for the recycled materials.
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Old 04-02-2019, 02:16 PM   #15
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Our recycle bin is always full, mostly with Amazon boxes. The trash bin is typically one or two small kitchen bags (~25% full).

Our town accepts cardboard, paper of any kind, cans (aluminum and steel), glass jars/bottles, and plastic with a recycling symbol. They process it at the landfill site. I've seen the facility; it's quite impressive. I don't know who they sell it to, but in the town's annual report to citizens, they claim that the recycling program makes a small profit.

They also collect yard waste (stacked separately) and convert it into mulch, which is sold commercially. DW and I compost most of our own yard waste, so very little gets stacked at the street.
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Old 04-02-2019, 02:44 PM   #16
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We have a Yardapault and just blast our stuff out three neighbors away.

Seriously, I do remember being a kid when grandpa and all his neighbors would just throw just about anything over the seawall and hope for the best. Paint, wood, Christmas trees, the works.
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Old 04-02-2019, 02:46 PM   #17
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I get really annoyed looking in the recycle dumpster where I take my recycling each week. The paper container has a large number of plastic bags, glass, metal, etc., even clothing. The reverse is true of the plastic/glass bin. I used to work in an office where certain people would routinely put their garbage and food waste in the paper bin. Too many folks jut seem to think the rules don’t apply to them, and now the recyclers are rejecting much of it as it is simply too contaminated.
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Old 04-02-2019, 02:52 PM   #18
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I get really annoyed looking in the recycle dumpster where I take my recycling each week. The paper container has a large number of plastic bags, glass, metal, etc., even clothing. The reverse is true of the plastic/glass bin. I used to work in an office where certain people would routinely put their garbage and food waste in the paper bin. .
We have an ongoing problem in our town:
We recently went to a pretty strict trash/recyclable program along with the large bins that are now picked up by a mechanical arm. The trash police will come around and give you a ticket if you have the wrong thing in the wrong bin.

Suddenly places like McDonalds and other public places were getting all kinds of trash dumped off in their dumpsters or barrels and fewer people were bringing out their trash.

Seems that the old people couldn't manage moving the new, large trash bins and instead just took their bags of trash to the parks, mall, train stations, McDonald's etc. One woman we know uses the trash bins to store her seasonal stuff and brings her trash to work and dumps it there.
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Old 04-02-2019, 02:53 PM   #19
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I get really annoyed looking in the recycle dumpster where I take my recycling each week. The paper container has a large number of plastic bags, glass, metal, etc., even clothing. The reverse is true of the plastic/glass bin. I used to work in an office where certain people would routinely put their garbage and food waste in the paper bin. Too many folks jut seem to think the rules don’t apply to them, and now the recyclers are rejecting much of it as it is simply too contaminated.
I can't remember ever seeing a recycling container that didn't have obvious trash in it, even when sitting RIGHT next to a trash container. And the trash container will always have bottles and cans in it, even with the recycling container right next to it! I pick out recyclables from trash and put it in recycling when convenient and reasonably clean. Even when they have lists/pictograms of what's recycling and what's trash lots of people get it wrong - who knows why...

I don't even try to understand it. And if you see it and try to gently coach someone, 9 out of 10 have something rude to say, so I've quit trying.
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Old 04-02-2019, 03:16 PM   #20
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Right. Buy aluminum can drinks and they'll recycle. But their price has gone up.

The problem is plastic. Most of us grew up in the age of glass drink bottles that were washed and reused. That's the best solution. Problem is it isn't cheap. And lazy customers don't like deposits and return.

Cheapest for the drink companies is plastic, plastic, and more plastic. Then more plastic. Maybe even more plastic. And then after that, plastic.

Plastic doesn't recycle worth squat.

Trucking heavy glass bottles from the bottler, to the distribution warehouse, then to a grocer, then home, then back to the grocer, then back to the warehouse, then back to the bottler... That’s a lot of person-hours, fuel, and water use...
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