Oct. 21, 2017 — Residents of Florence are in the process of adjusting to major changes in the rules and materials that can be recycled in curbside pick-up, and most seem to respond well to these changes.
New rules have been adopted by waste haulers in town that prohibit consumers from putting any kind of plastic in their recycling and by reducing the materials that the companies will accept from consumers.
Lane County has also announced that, beginning today, Oct. 21, the only plastic that will be accepted at county landfill sites and at transfer locations, including Florence, will be clear plastic milk jugs.
The list of materials no longer accepted will include all other types of plastic, including all food and beveridge containers made from plastic.
This is a dramatic change from earlier policies in effect.
These changes were implemented in response to newly enacted Chinese governmental restrictions on the type and quality of recycled materials that will be accepted by the country, which is the world’s largest purchaser of waste products.
The lowering of the percent of contaminated materials allowed has forced a dramatic realignment in the work American recyclers have to undertake to adequately prepare the waste materials to be exported.
This prompted the changes enacted by the commercial haulers in Florence earlier this month and by the county beginning today.
These changes affect both waste removal companies in the Florence area, although in marginally different ways. County Transfer and Recycling is owned by the one of the nation’s largest companies in the trash removal and recycling field, Waste Management Company.
The larger scale of the company has allowed County Transfer and Recycling to implement the recycling changes more gradually, moving towards a complete enactment of the new rules by the end of the year.
Central Coast Disposal is locally owned and was first to implement the changes, which have been in effect at the company for the past two weeks.
The family-operated company wanted to start preparing for the future as soon as possible and sent out notices to all of their customers to notify them of the changes.
Dave Twombly, owner of Central Coast Disposal, says the new protocols seem to be taking hold.
“The word has gotten out there rather quickly,” he said. “Approximately 95 percent of our commercial accounts are already doing it and I’d say about 85 percent of our residential customers are, too. I think it’s because they know that if they are putting plastics in their recycling, they are creating more waste, not less waste.
“Every time you try to sneak some plastic in there, even clean plastic, that is not supposed to be there, you are actually causing more to go in the landfill.”
However, there is another option available to consumers who want to continue to recycle plastic bags and plastic soda bottles; bottles can be returned to grocery stores for a refund, which is now 10 cents per container, and most grocery stores have bins or barrels available on site to collect unneeded plastic bags.
Smaller, community-based recycling or reuse efforts may be underway as well.
Both the county and private haulers feel the key to disposing of food containers properly is to thoroughly wash the item before depositing it in the appropriate bin at the landfill.
Twombly believes he cannot over emphasize the importance of cleaning all containers, regardless of the materials contained therein.
“Everything has got to be clean, clean, clean. People don’t rinse out the old shampoo container and they don’t clean out the mayonnaise or the salad dressing containers. And as soon as the item gets crushed, (what’s inside) goes all over everything. The paper and fiber that is all around the food that was squished out and into the rest of the materials, has to be taken out and put in the landfill,” Twombly said.
There is no charge for dropping off accepted recyclable materials at the Florence Transfer Station, 2820 Rhododendron Drive.
Residents should keep in mind that there is a Lane County labor strike currently under way, and the Florence Transfer Station is operating under reduced hours.
The station is presently open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The County Waste Management website also has information for consumers to use when deciding what to recycle and where it can be dropped off.
For more information on county disposal options, call 541-682-4120.
County Transfer and Recycling can be reached at 541-997-8233 and Central Coast Disposal’s phone number is 541-902-7554.