by Salt Lake Valley Landfill Compost Marketer & Recycling Specialist, Zak Breckenridge
It’s variably called the “yard waste bin,” the “brown can,” or the “compost container.”
Whatever name you give it, all Salt Lake City Waste & Recycling customers have the familiar brown canand use it to dispose of leaves, yard trimmings, small branches, grass, weeds, and other green waste.
It can also take your fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds and filters, and tea bags.
Today we’re taking a deep dive into the brown can. We’re (figuratively, not literally) getting down and dirty not only with what should and shouldn’t go in your bin, but also what happens to all of that “green waste” at its destination?
We all know that putting carrot tops and tomato stems in the compost is somehow better than putting them in the trash, but how do your food scraps and yard waste become a useful and valuable natural product that’s also better for the environment and better for our community?
Taking a Cue from Annie Leonard, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Robert Swan
One side of this year’s truck wraps display useful mantras encouraging SLC residents to recycle. The other side features quotes from three prominent environmental activists:
Annie Leonard is the founder of The Story of Stuff Project, which advocates for reducing our consumption and being more thoughtful about where our stuff goes. As her truck wrap quote says: there’s no such thing as away.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is an environmental activist and former senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He currently serves as president of the grassroots Waterkeeper Alliance. His quote succinctly emphasizes the impact of sustainable living on our country’s well being.
Echoing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s sentiment, Robert Swan’s quote is a call to action for every individual to take steps towards protecting the environment. Robert Swan is a climate activist and the first person to walk to the North and South pole. His organization, 2041, works to educate the public about the impact of climate change on the environment, especially at the poles.
By quoting these leaders, the truck wraps pinpoint the importance of community action geared towards protecting the environment and building sustainable communities.
One of the easiest ways to follow in the footsteps of these activists is to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Is Recycling Still Worth It?
Presented on the flip sides of the trucks are statistics about SLC’s waste management habits. In particular, they emphasize the importance of proper waste diversion in the form of recycling and composting.
Does that surprise you? With recycling changing as markets adjusted to new rules from China on contamination, there has been question as to whether recycling is even “worth it” any more.
We’re here to tell you it is and that’s a key point we wanted to emphasize with the new truck wrap designs. Let’s take a moment to dig in to that detail:
The recycling import ban that came from China in 2018 has complex causes and also underscores that recycling is a commodity market that has always experienced ups and downs.
But there is good news amid the shake-up. In particular, it’s forcing U.S. recycling processors and consumers to get back to basics: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle . . . Properly.
Glass is one of the best materials to recycle. Not only does glass recycling help stimulate the local economy, glass can be recycled endlessly. Indeed, 80% of recovered glass is recycled into new glass bottles. The rest is turned into industrial materials. Momentum Recycling, Utah’s glass-only recycling facility, provides a critical service to our communities by taking care of our glass and moving Utah closer to zero waste.
Today the Hogle Zoo launches a new animal exhibit, but these animals are a bit different from the rest.
The exhibit’s animals are made up plastic debris washed up on the shore of the Oregon coast. The colorful sculptures make a bold statement about plastic pollution in our oceans and its impact on marine life.
From May 24 to September 30, visitors to Salt Lake City’s Hogle Zoo will come face to face with fifteen sculptures built entirely out of plastic trash. The sculptures are located throughout the zoo grounds.
Artist and art educator Angela Haseltine Possi created Washed Ashore to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of plastic within the ecosystem. Possi spent many summers on the beaches of Oregon when she was young, which fostered her love of nature. But over time, she noticed the massive amounts of plastic and trash that washed up on the shore. Possi decided to educate herself about plastic pollution and the impact it has on marine life. Her research inspired her to help in the way that she knew how—by creating art.
And so, the Washed Ashore Project was born. Volunteers who work on the Washed Ashore Project join forces to clean up beaches on the Oregon coast, process the debris, and then create the sculptures representing marine life. To this day, over 10,000 volunteers have contributed to this ongoing project.
The exhibit travels across the country to educate viewers about the dangers of plastic waste in our oceans to the marine life, and what they can do to help.
Each of the animals on display represents an animal impacted by marine debris. For example, one of the sculptures is a billowing jellyfish. Hungry sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish– a staple in their diet. The mistake can be deadly for the sea turtles. This piece serves to spark conversation about the negative impacts of plastic bags and the importance of reusable alternatives.
Students in the YouthCity program at Sorenson Unity Center care about the future of our planet and our community!
YouthCity is a Salt Lake City Division offering programs for children and young adults ages 8-19. They have many offerings throughout the city, including after-school and full-time during the summer. The programming is designed to foster positive youth development in an inclusive and caring environment.
This year, YouthCity ran a Session of Service program to explore and take action on issues affecting our community, with staff and students collectively brainstorming ways to get involved.
So far, they have completed several impactful projects focusing on air pollution, homelessness, and plastic pollution.
We want to highlight one project in particular . . .
Did you know that Earth Day was celebrated by over a BILLION people last year?
That is an incredible number, right?
It’s been celebrated since 1970 and has since become the world’s largest day for environmental awareness and the world’s largest service project. It is often marked by planting trees, doing litter cleanups, or engaging in other volunteer projects.
In honor of Earth Day 2019, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do personally to reduce your impact on the planet, as well as some fun upcoming events to help you choose how you want to celebrate Earth Day!
Salt Lake City is excited to announce that a new Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is coming to our city in 2020. It will process Salt Lake City’s residential recycling, along with other customers’ material from around the area.
Waste Management is currently the City’s contracted recycling vendor and processes roughly 750 tons per month of Salt Lake City recyclables at their facility in southern Salt Lake County.
This new, upgraded facility will allow the company to produce a cleaner end-product with higher value, increase diversion from the landfill, and support Salt Lake City’s overall recycling goals.
We’re also thrilled that the facility will be located in Salt Lake City limits, with the attendant economic development impacts, as well as the shorter travel times for our trucks.
See the below press release from Waste Management for more information.
Waste Management Announces
Plans to Expand Recycling Operations in Salt Lake City to Better Serve the
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — March 6, 2019 — Waste Management of Utah has announced plans to expand and improve its Salt Lake City recycling operations with the construction of a new, larger and technically-advanced Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Building is expected to begin in the spring and the new MRF is slated to be fully operational by early 2020.