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Salt Lake City Thanks Frontline Waste & Recycling Staff in Celebration of Waste & Recycling Workers Week

June 15, 2021

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Salt Lake City Thanks Frontline Waste & Recycling Staff in Celebration of Waste & Recycling Workers Week

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City is thanking its frontline waste & recycling staff this week in honor of Waste & Recycling Workers Week which occurs annually the week of June 17.

Salt Lake City employs 55 men and women who are responsible for collecting the refuse from 42,000 homes and businesses every week. Their essential work is critical to residents’ health and safety, making Salt Lake City a cleaner, more resilient community every day. Every year, Salt Lake City crews empty between 4.7 to 4.8 million curbside bins. This year, Waste & Recycling collected an average of 3,630 tons of trash per month, 1,454 tons of compost per month, and 775 tons of recycling per month.

“Our City maintains its world-class beauty and high standard of cleanliness in large part due to the tireless daily efforts of the people who work in our Waste and Recycling Division,” said Mayor Mendenhall. “They are on the front line but work behind-the-scenes. We often don’t think twice when the trash, recycling, and yard waste seamlessly disappear from our curbs. So this week I encourage all residents to join me in thanking these public servants for their critical work. A simple wave as the truck rolls by really makes their days.”

Residents who wish to send a message may also call and leave a voicemail on the customer service line at 801-535-6999 or by sharing a message with @slcgreen on social media.

In addition to the operational staff, Salt Lake City’s Waste and Recycling Division includes an Education Team that works directly with residents, helping make sure recyclables and compostable materials end up in the right bins. In 2020, the Education Team checked 551,592 waste carts throughout the City, helping reduce contamination and empowering residents to know how to recycle correctly.

The Waste & Recycling customer service team also provides daily assistance to community members, which was even more critical throughout 2020 due to the “inland hurricane” and resulting debris cleanup, as well as general increased waste disposal needs as more Salt Lakers stayed home.

“Our crews have worked courageously and tirelessly throughout the entire pandemic and natural disasters to keep each other safe and deliver uninterrupted service to our residents,” said Chris Bell, Waste and Recycling Division Director. “I couldn’t be more proud of their resolve and ability to maintain our high service standards.”

On top of curbside collection, Salt Lake City Waste & Recycling provides resident support and education, the bulky waste collection program Call 2 Haul, special event waste and recycling permitting, and overseeing of the business recycling ordinance and construction and demolition recycling ordinance.

This year, the Call 2 Haul program collected an average of 168 tons of trash and 14 tons of recycling per month. In addition to their normal collection program, Call 2 Haul also assisted with Salt Lake City’s lawn mower exchange, picking up hundreds of gas-powered lawn mowers from residents who switched to electric mowers.

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Keep Recycling: Corrugated Cardboard

Getting packages delivered at home was already a growing trend before 2020. When the pandemic began, home deliveries surged, as did the demand for one particular resource: cardboard.

With both individuals and companies stocking up on necessary household goods, cardboard demand skyrocketed. While recycling has always been a crucial element of carboard production, it is more important than ever to keep up with the demand and save trees!

In the past year, the amount of cardboard recycled through Salt Lake City’s residential collection program has grown by 8%!

Put another way, of the 780 tons of material that Salt Lake City collects per month, 273 tons is corrugated cardboard.

Breaking Down the Facts about Corrugated Cardboard:

Corrugated cardboard is a lightweight and sturdy way to ship products. Corrugated boxes became popular in the early 1900s, and we’ve been using them ever since. Because corrugated carboard is so readily recyclable, corrugated boxes have become the largest recycled paper and paperboard product in the U.S..

Over 90% of American products are packaged with corrugated cardboard. But making sure to properly recycle it is the tricky part! Keep these details in mind when you’re recycling this excellent resource:

Graphic reminding folks to break down cardboard boxes before recycling them. White text on a green banner says Please break down your boxes. Questions? Call (801) 535-6999. There is a photo of broken down boxes and a green arrow pointing at a blue recycling bin.
  • Is It Clean? If you’re recycling a cardboard box that was used for food packaging (i.e. a pizza box), remember that food grease contaminates the material. If you can, salvage as much of the box as possible and recycle the clean pieces.
  • Is It Empty? When you’re sorting out your cardboard boxes, be sure to check to make sure you’ve emptied it of any plastic bags, packing peanuts, or Styrofoam pieces. The same rule applies for any plastic wrapping.
  • Is It Flat? Before you throw that box in the blue bin, please flatten it to make sure that it is easily picked up and hauled away by our Waste & Recycling teams.

Properly sorting out corrugated cardboard helps our Waste & Recycling team recover this important and sustainable resource!

For more information about recycling in Salt Lake City, visit the SLCgreen website.

Check out this video to see how cardboard and other recyclables are processed in Salt Lake City’s new materials recovery facility (MRF):

The Dos and Don’ts of Appliance Recycling

Recycling and properly disposing of appliances of any size can feel daunting. Dealing with old fridges, coffee makers, irons, and other household appliances are tricky – especially because they are made up of different materials and can’t go in the normal mixed recycling bin.

To help manage old appliances in a sustainable way, we wanted to talk about how to best divert them for reuse and recycling! Whether they’re in working condition and just need a new home, or are no longer usable, we have some ideas for how to best get rid of old appliances.

Photo of old washer and dryer in a basement.

Does it still work? If yes, give it a new home!

The most sustainable product is often the one you already own, so limiting new purchases and putting appliances to reuse is one of the best ways to reduce waste. If you are looking to upgrade to a new appliance, don’t toss out that old one. If it’s in good condition, consider donating it to a local organization or even try selling it online.

Some good places to consider donating to are The Road Home, YWCA, Palmers Court, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and similar organizations. You can find more suggestions on this larger list from our website. It’s best to call ahead to organizations to double-check what goods they accept.  

Consider hosting a virtual yard sale, or even listing your old appliances for free online through Craigslist, KSL, Nextdoor, and other social media apps. 

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Catch Up With Utah Recycling Alliance

Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!

Is going zero waste one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2021? Utah Recycling Alliance is here to help!  Utah Recycling Alliance (URA) has been encouraging Utahns to recycle more and reduce waste since 2011. The non-profit promotes reuse, recycling, and resource conservation through programs developed to engage and educate residents statewide.

This year, like many organizations, URA has moved much of their programming online due to the pandemic. However, they have stayed busy, and the organization is gearing up for exciting new projects in 2021. 

SLCgreen chatted with URA co-presidents David Johnston and Sarah Bateman to find out more about what URA has been up to in 2020. David and Sarah also filled us in on how you can get involved in building a zero waste future in the New Year!

The 3 R’s and Beyond

David, who is also the Permits Coordinator for SLCgreen’s Waste and Recycling Division, told us that URA started with a mission that went beyond recycling. “Although we’ve always been there to help Utahns around the state recycle in the right ways, many of what we now consider core programs are all about the other Rs” – including reduce, reuse, repair, and rot.  

Sarah, who is the founder of the City of Orem’s Natural Resources Stewardship Committee and a full-time mom, joined URA because of her passion for encouraging zero waste in Utah County. Prior to joining URA, she “felt somewhat alone in advocating a low-waste lifestyle.” However, URA connected Sarah to other zero waste organizers who were just as passionate about waste reduction and conservation. Sarah says that she is “honored to work alongside this well-educated and skilled team of volunteers, dedicated to reducing waste in Utah.”

The organization relies on volunteer support to operate their diverse projects, which connect businesses, individuals, and local governments that are committed to zero waste efforts.

CHaRMs and Fix-It Clinics

In the past few years, URA has helped Salt Lake City residents divert unusual waste (including toothpaste tubes, old electronics, shredded paper, and other things that aren’t accepted in the City’s curbside recycling program) in the CHaRM events.

The acronym stands for Collection of Hard to Recycle Materials, and the events help divert a considerable amount of waste each year. David notes that “in 2019 alone, with the help of more than 40 additional volunteers, URA was able to divert almost 5,000 lbs. from the landfill, accepting material for recycling from more than 1,100 attendees.”

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Salt Lake City and Momentum Recycling Unveil New Public Art Piece —a Glass Recycling Dumpster

November 24, 2020

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What started out as a small idea to beautify one of Salt Lake City’s glass collection sites has become a highly-visible statement piece in Liberty Park. To celebrate the importance of glass recycling in the community, Salt Lake City and Momentum Recycling unveiled on Nov. 18 a new dumpster at the Liberty Park drop-off location featuring a hand-painted, wrap-around mural of Utah red rock arches by local artist Josh Scheuerman.

The piece brings a splash of public art to a frequently-used recycling location, trading the basic blue of the original dumpster for a bright mural paying tribute to Utah’s iconic natural landscapes.

Local artist Josh Scheuerman’s Arches design on the new glass recycling dumpster.

“As a native Utahn, I feel responsible for the wild and natural places,” Scheuerman said. “I believe it’s vitally important for new technology and information to help increase recycling alongside local art.”

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Celebrate America Recycles Day November 15!

Except for maybe Earth Day, America Recycles Day is one of our favorites. November 15 is all about Recycling. It’s particularly worth celebrating this year because, even during a pandemic, recycling is one of the easiest and best ways to help the planet.

According to the EPA, Americans have drastically improved our recycling recovery rate – from only 7% in 1960, to 35.2% in 2017.  Recycling and composting help us reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, conserves natural resources and energy, and prevents pollution. You can find out exactly how much energy is saved when you recycle with this calculator from the EPA! On top of the environmental benefits, recycling also creates well-paying jobs and supports the economy.

Join SLCgreen for America Recycles Day this November 15th.

In Salt Lake City, we do our part to help improve recycling. With compost and recycling efforts, we are able to divert 42% of our waste from the landfill. In August 2020, we recycled 606.1 tons of your recyclables. Recycling at this rate helps avoid 880 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. It also helps save the energy equivalent to powering 79 homes, and the daily water needs of 12,205 people!

You can be confident that this material is making its way to legitimate destinations. Our recycling contractor, Waste Management, has been keeping all plastic recycling domestic since last year.

They have also opened up a state-of-the-art new recycling facility here in Salt Lake City that benefits our residents, as well as other customers and communities throughout the state.

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A New Recycling Plant is Here!

A new, advanced recycling facility (known as a Materials Recovery Facility or “MRF”) opened in Salt Lake City in July 2020. Salt Lake City sends its recyclable materials to the new MRF, owned and operated by Waste Management.

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Last year, you may recall we announced that Waste Management, the company that processes Salt Lake City’s recyclables, was constructing a new Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) right here in Salt Lake City.

Today we’re excited to let you know that the facility is fully up and running!

Salt Lake City is now home to one of the most advanced recycling sorting centers in the country.

It is a single-stream operation that accepts and sorts clean metal cans, plastic bottles and containers, cardboard, paper and newspaper. (Here’s what to recycle in your SLC containers).

The state-of-the-art facility cost the company $17 million to construct at an existing site of theirs located in western Salt Lake City at 3405 West 900 South.

The facility is outfitted with the latest recycling technology and equipment. This matters because consumer material continues to change at a rapid pace — what you were putting in your recycling bin 15 or 20 years ago is probably a bit different than what you’re using it for today. The sheer quantity of recyclable material being processed has also gone up dramatically– and will only continue to grow. So we need facilities that can keep up!

Waste Management’s new Materials Recovery Facility in Salt Lake City. Video courtesy of Redo Recycling.
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Going from the Flintstones to the Jetsons

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Unwrapping Recycling Symbols

The famous chasing arrows recycling symbol is a powerful tool when used properly. Unfortunately, the little arrows can sometimes lead us off course.

The arrows appear on everything from easily recycled materials like aluminum and cardboard to not-so-recyclable materials like insulation and clothing. The confusion is often linked to the fact that, in theory if not practicality, most materials are recyclable somewhere. But just because an item has the recycle symbol, doesn’t mean it’s recyclable everywhere.

Let’s take a look at the recycling symbol’s history and get the story straight on what is and isn’t recyclable.

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How to Donate, Reuse, and Dispose of Stuff During COVID-19

Even during a pandemic, donating lightly used clothes, furniture, or other household goods is still the most sustainable way to manage your spring cleaning backlog. But where to go and how to keep everyone safe? We have some resources for you!

Photo of clothes on sales rack organized by color from yellow to green.
Buying used helps fight fast fashion.

How to Donate Clothes During COVID-19

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Welcome Chris Bell!

Photograph of new Waste & Recycling Division Director, Chris Bell.
Chris Bell joined Salt Lake City as the Waste & Recycling Division Director in January 2020.

SLCgreen is excited to introduce Chris Bell, Salt Lake City Waste & Recycling’s new Director.

The Sustainability Department is comprised of two divisions – the Energy & Environment (E&E) Division, which is the policy division that houses our energy, local food, business engagement, internal policy, and communications roles. And then there is the Waste & Recycling Division which is the operational side of our department. This division is responsible for the daily collection of garbage, trash, and recycling, and other special programs.

So we’re happy to welcome Chris to the Department where he’ll lead the Waste & Recycling Division.

Chris’ career in recycling started almost 20 years ago. He is passionate about using his skills to have a positive impact on the environment and is guided by his philosophy to create a strong legacy of conservation. Chris believes that building a sustainable future is our collective responsibility – and has the added benefit of being good business.

Chris’ work in recycling has taken him from Utah to Colorado to Texas and back. Beginning in paper recycling and moving on though operational and commercial management, Chris is highly qualified in recycling and waste management. He is driven to maintain a strong safety record as well as improve operations to deliver outstanding service to the community.

We are thrilled to have Chris on board to help guide our City towards zero waste and a strong recycling and composting system.

The Waste & Recycling Director oversees 60 staff working to collect garbage, recycling, and yard waste from over 42,000 residents in Salt Lake City.

Join us in giving Chris a warm welcome to the SLCgreen team!