What is recyclable in Murray?Nov 15, 2019 04:20PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Murray residents who place contaminated material into their curbside recycling bins can cause whole loads of recycling to end up in the landfill. (Photo courtesy Trans-Jordan Landfill)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
Yes, recycle your Murray Journal. Yes, recycle your office paper. Yes, recycle junk mail (unless they have a plastic window). Murray City, as well other Salt Lake County cities, were caught off guard as some media outlets released a story from Trans-Jordan Landfill stating that cities serviced by the landfill would only accept corrugated boxes, cans, and plastic bottles for recycling.
“As you know, the Trans-Jordan Landfill, of which Murray City is a member, distributed a flyer to the press without Murray City’s approval,” Murray City Chief Administrative Officer Doug Hill said. “This led many residents in Murray to believe the city is changing/limiting its recycling program. This is not the case. Murray City continues to allow residents to recycle clean aluminum and steel cans, junk mail, newspapers, office paper, wrapping paper, softcover books, magazines, cardboard, shoe boxes, food boxes, paper bags, and plastic bottles and jugs in their curbside recycling container.”
However, one resident’s mistake can contaminate a whole truckload of recyclable material, turning it into regular old garbage. The Trans-Jordan Landfill that receives recycling has had to send entire collection trucks of recycling to the garbage dump because the recycling material was contaminated with other waste products, especially food.
Trans-Jordan Landfill took the pre-emptive approach of announcing that they no longer accepted office paper, newspaper, junk mail, magazines and cereal boxes, restricting recycling to the “Big 3”: flattened corrugated cardboard (i.e., heavy-duty boxes), plastic bottles and jugs with necks, and metal food and beverage cans.
Murray City officials met Nov. 12 to discuss Trans-Jordan’s announcement and decided on a more preventive approach—to educate residents about the difference between proper recycling and bad recycling.
“Recycling contamination is becoming a problem in Murray,” Hill said. “A contaminated container can cause an entire garbage truck to dispose of its waste at the landfill instead of being recycled. The city is evaluating our contamination rate and discussing how we can better educate our citizens.”
The Trans-Jordan Landfill estimates that in Salt Lake County last year, about 19% of recycling was rejected and sent to a landfill due to contamination. That means that roughly one in five items placed in a recycling bin is not recyclable through curbside programs, and this creates enormous problems for the recycling economy.
Used pizza boxes, potato chip bags, pet food bags, and used paper plates and napkins are just some of the unacceptable items that cause contamination. Grease prevents the paper fibers from binding during the recycling process, and this results in inferior paper quality. This also happens when paper plates and used paper napkins are recycled. Composting is an alternative to pizza box recycling. The box, along with paper napkins and food scraps, can be tossed directly into your organics collection.
Also not recyclable are plastic bags and plastic film products, such as produce bags, dry cleaning bags, wrapping around paper towels, diapers, and furniture. Some grocery stores do have a plastic bag recycling receptacle, often in the lobby of the grocery store, for collection. Stores that do participate in bag recycling are listed on the website www.plasticfilmrecycling.org.
Other things considered not recyclable include items like Styrofoam, shredded paper, wet paper, hardcover books, batteries, clothing, vinyl, plastic cups and utensils, glass, and garden hoses. Batteries can be taken to Murray Public Services, 4646 S. 500 West, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Glass recycling can be taken to Germania Park and Murray Park, where large recycling bins are available. Shredded and wet paper can be used as compost with other organic material in compost bins, available for purchase at some retailers.
Also, do not bag your recycling. If you must line your indoor recycling containers, empty the recycling into the curbside recycling bin without the liner. Put all the recyclables loosely in the recycling container. And always rinse out metal food and beverage containers so that the contents will not spill out and contaminate other recyclable material in the bin.
Landfills across the United States have had to review recycling practices since China – a major importer of recyclables – recently issued new rules on the types of materials it will accept, including a 0.5% max on contaminated recycling.
More information on what is acceptable in Murray City’s curbside recycling can be found at www.murray.utah.gov.