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Posts tagged ‘plastic bags’

Should you use “compostable” disposables?

compostable disposables (1)It’s the New Year and you may have made it a goal to waste less and recycle more. That’s great!

A common question we receive here at SLCgreen is about so-called “compostable” or “biodegradable” disposables. 

What are they? Are they better than regular disposables? Can they go in the brown curbside compost can?

At first blush, they seem to offer a great solution–the convenience of single-use bags, plates, cups, and utensils — with a supposedly more environmentally-friendly footprint.

However, the truth is more complicated.

That’s because, as it turns out, these single-use ‘bioplastic’ products are just as bad for the environment as the regular single-use plastic products they were meant to replace.

So what is bioplastic? Read more

Why Do We Check Recycling Cans?

 

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Hi! One of SLC’s Recycling Education Team members checking a container.

You may have seen a recent story in the Salt Lake Tribune that follows SLCgreen’s Recycling Education Team on a visit around our neighborhoods checking recycling containers. The piece does a good job of giving an overview of the purpose of our Education Team, but we’d like to give you some additional context.

The Education Team works in Salt Lake City’s Waste & Recycling Division and is comprised of five dedicated and passionate employees whose sole job it is to educate the public and improve recycling behavior. We never fine anyone, and our team works hard to be customer-service oriented, friendly, and professional.

The team is out and about each week, across the city, checking cans, leaving materials, and having conversations with people about recycling. They’re also some of the faces you see at community events, festivals, markets, and classrooms across SLC.

Their work is a critical part of our effort to make sure we are recycling as much as possible in the Salt Lake City community– and that we’re “recycling right.” Read more

Let’s Talk about Recycling

You may have heard that much is changing in the recycling world these days. For the last couple decades, China has accepted the majority of the world’s recycled materials– whether that’s plastic, paper, cardboard, or metal.

Our recycling programs evolved over that time to encourage more and more recycling of more and more items, with not so much attention focused on “contamination.” Contamination means that there are items in the recycling load that shouldn’t be there (like garbage or leaves or shoes or hoses . . . you get the picture). It can also mean that otherwise recyclable items are dirty and therefore unusable (oily pizza boxes for example).

Meanwhile, our society has continued to progress towards more packaging, more disposables, and more single-use items.

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There’s a lot of recycled material being processed every day in Salt Lake City! Help us minimize contamination by only putting accepted items into your blue container.

 

Globally, we produce upward of 448 million tons of plastic each year, 40% of which is destined only to be used one time. What?!?!

But if we threw those plastic plates or cups in the recycling, that was okay, right? Throwing something in the recycling bin became the equivalent of not even using it in the first place! 

But now China has effectively stopped accepting the world’s recycling and the U.S. is left with a lot of material and a system that isn’t designed to deal with newer, stricter materials standards.

Municipalities across the country are grappling with what to do. Some have had to drastically amend their recycling programs or cancel them. (See also “What the Chinese import policies mean for all 50 states”)

In Salt Lake City, disruption of our recycling program has so far been minimal. Read more

Check Out our New Trucks!

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Help us make SLC Plastic Free by keeping plastic bags out of curbside containers. Say no to single-use bags and yes to reusable!

By Jack Hurty, SLCgreen intern

 

Salt Lake City’s often under-appreciated workhorses are getting a makeover – and an educational one at that. Six of our recycling trucks recently received a new body wrap, pictured above.

Their visibility is key to educating the public about what can and cannot be recycled.

There have been big changes rocking the recycling world lately and plastic bags are one of the most significant sources of “contamination.”

Besides these bright new wraps, the trucks are state-of-the-art waste management machines.

Not only do they run on low-emission Clean Natural Gas (CNG) and clean diesel, but they are equipped with an on-board trash compactor, an array of cameras, and a mechanical arm to pick up and empty recycling bins.

Every week, these trucks travel to all corners of the city, making sure that our waste is taken care of.

Read more

Recycling: This Earth Day, Let’s Get Back to Basics

It’s #EarthWeek in Salt Lake City! We’re excited to bring you a range of content to inspire action on behalf of our planet. As part of that, we were excited to contribute a blog post to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality about recycling. There have been some changes in the industry in the last year and it all reminds us to “get back to basics: reduce, reuse, and recycle right.” Read on!

Contamination Plastic Bags

Plastic bag “contamination” at a local recycling facility. Help us reduce, reuse, and recycle right!

by Sophia Nicholas, SLCgreen Communications Manager

Recycling is one of the most common sense practices to conserve resources and care for the Earth.

So this Earth Day—let’s get back to basics and take a deep dive on what’s going on with recycling these days and what you as an environmentally-conscious person should do to “recycle right.”

Did you know that most of the items you put in the recycling bin get sent to Asia to be processed into new material? Those water bottles get turned into fleece, cardboard into paper bags, and milk jugs into . . . new milk jugs.

A large majority of this material is processed in China.  Or, I should say, was.

You may have heard that China is no longer accepting the world’s waste as of January 2018. They were previously processing roughly half of the world’s plastic, metal, and paper recyclables. Their ban is part of an effort to clean up their environment and not become the home of “foreign garbage.” We applaud China’s strengthening of their environmental laws, policies, and procedures.

However, in the short term, the Chinese ban is causing recycling vendors and processors worldwide to search for new markets for some of the material China no longer wants. This includes lower-quality plastics and paper. China also doesn’t want “contamination”—which refers to non-recyclable items being mixed up with recyclable items, as well as dirty and unwashed recyclables.

READ MORE ON THE DEQ BLOG

Update on EV Fees and Banning the Plastic Bag Ban

Utah Capitol

We’re in the final two weeks of Utah’s legislative session, which means we’re in for a wild ride full of twists, turns, and surprises until 11:59 pm on March 8.

SB 136: High Fees on Electric Vehicles and Transit Overhaul

SLCgreen and the Mayor’s Office are following many of the air quality-related bills.  In particular, as we alerted you to recently, we are concerned about the high proposed registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles in SB0136 (though we support the funding mechanisms for more transit).

There have been a number of changes and attempted substitutions with this bill. Unfortunately, as of February 28, the fees for all-electric vehicles remain at $194/year. The fee structure also imposes changes for hybrid electric ($92/year) and plug-in hybrid vehicles ($124/year). Fees are going up on all vehicles. Standard gasoline vehicles will now pay $72/year.

However, the singling-out of clean vehicles is troubling. For those of us who care about clean air, the proposed EV fees are a significant set-back, especially coming the year after the state tax credit for electric vehicles was also rolled back.

Salt Lake City signed on to a coalition letter from Utah Clean Energy with other local governments and businesses opposing the fee. The bill has passed the Senate and now moves to the House. There’s still time to make your voice heard with your state representatives. Find your legislators here.

SB 218: Plastic Bags – Ban the Bans?
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What’s the Deal with Plastic Bags?

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As you may have seen in the newsSalt Lake City is no longer able to accept plastic bags and plastic film in the blue curbside recycling containers.

So what should you do?

The short answer is –> Opt for REUSABLE bags whenever possible.

Remember the 3 R’s of waste management: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.

  1. Reduce the amount of single-use plastic you consume by using reusable bags.
  2. Reuse the bags you do have.
  3. Take your plastic bags for recycling back to the store. Many retailers have dedicated recycling receptacles for plastic film– which can be more effectively recycled when it’s not mixed with other items. Click here for a directory. (Don’t see your local retailer on the list? Ask them to join!)

Read on for other FAQ’s.

Read more