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SLC’s Newest Recycling Trucks Remind Us to Ditch the Disposables

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By Kyle Strayer

Keep an eye out for the city’s newest recycling trucks with our “Ditch Your Disposables” image.

The wrap covers eight of the new trucks, which have replaced older models. They are the newest addition to the city’s fleet of 34 trucks. (Check out previous years’ truck wraps here and here.)

Beyond the nifty new wrap, these state-of-the-art recycling trucks have a dynamic mechanical arm, multiple camera feeds displayed on the dashboard, two on-board trash compactors, and can haul 9 – 10 tons of material each.

Each truck has a low-emission profile too– three are Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and five are new clean diesel (100% of Salt Lake City’s refuse trucks are either CNG or clean diesel).

If you live in SLC, every item you recycle is eventually hauled off in one of the City’s trucks and taken to a recycling facility.  These trucks travel miles of city streets every day, collecting material and sending it off to be made into something new.

Their widespread visibility is one reason we use them for public education.

So back to the new wrap: Why the slogan “Wash, Reuse, Repeat”?  

Simply washing your durable products– whether a glass, coffee mug, silverware, or plate– instead of opting for disposables can save tons of material from going to the landfill each year.

(Sometimes disposable products are recycled, but usually they end up in the landfill. The waxy lining on paper coffee cups and plates makes them non-recyclable; and the difficult size and variable components of plastic utensils makes them ill-suited for recycling.)

Remember the tag line “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”?  

We think the first and second words and resulting behaviors need a little more love.

“Wash Reuse Repeat” is a new spin on the original slogan, reminding everyone that:

  1. Before we expend all that energy to recycle products, it’s important to first think about avoiding disposable and unnecessary “stuff” in the first place. (REDUCE)
  2. After that, REUSE what can be given a new life.
  3. Finally, if you’re going to throw it away– make sure you choose recyclable products, and RECYCLE correctly.  (Here’s a link to our downloadable brochure)

That educational reminder is the purpose behind the “Ditch the Disposables” campaign, captured with the happy couple washing dishes (we all feel that way, right?!?), next to the alarming statistic that 50% of plastic (national average) is only used once and then thrown away.

Last year, Salt Lake City collected 41,500 tons of garbage that was sent to the landfill. Imagine how much we could save if everyone “ditched the disposables”!

No matter how you look at it, using fewer one-use items is the more efficient, economical and sustainable solution. Reusable items are the key to reducing our waste footprints. Think about how much more uses you get from a durable water bottle, mug, or metal utensil. Potentially hundreds or even thousands of uses.

With small changes in daily habits, each of us can weed out disposable items from our lives:

  • Use a reusable produce bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your own reusable produce bags too.
  • Buy in bulk rather than purchase products with lots of packaging. As consumers, we can vote with our dollars and shift demand toward less packaging.
  • Use a reusable bottle or mug for your hot and cold beverages, even at coffee shops– some even give you a discount for doing so.
  • Avoid drinking bottled water. In Salt Lake City, we have some of the best drinking water in the nation so there is no need to buy it bottled. Use a durable metal, glass, or BPA-free water bottle instead.  And if you like the taste of bottled water, consider a simple filter to use with your tap water.
  • Reuse containers for storing leftovers. This works for glass jars as well.
  • Stow a reusable container in your car or at work for when you have restaurant left-overs.
  • Swear off single-use coffee pods. They’re convenient, but if you care about the planet, an old-fashioned coffee machine with a reusable filter works just as well. Plus coffee grounds and paper filters can be put in your brown yard-waste bin to be turned into compost!
  • Support businesses that only use paper bags and encourage others you patronize to phase out plastic.
  • Use a razor with replaceable blades or an electric razor instead of a disposable razor.
  • Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to reduce plastic in our lives and the nasty impacts of plastic pollution.
  • And last but not least. . . . “Wash, Reuse, Repeat”!

. . . Such a simple habit with such a profound impact on our environment.

Ultimately, the more efficient we can be with our waste, the better we can manage it as we move towards our 2040 Zero Waste goal.

What do you think of the new wrap design? And what are your ideas and tips for “Ditching the Disposables”?

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