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.
Even during a pandemic, donating lightly used clothes, furniture, or otherhousehold 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!
So instead of letting the great pumpkin take up space in the landfill (where it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas), put your pumpkin into the compost bin!
(Remember to only put pumpkins without paint, wax, glitter or other non-organic decorations in the brown bin).
Garbage vs. Recycling?
Unless a helpful witch or wizard was able to transform all those candy wrappers into clean cardboard or aluminum, or if you send materials to a recycling program like TerraCycle, candy wrappers should always be put into the garbage can.
Salt Lake City Reaffirms Items Accepted in
City’s Curbside Recycling Program
With recent news that some Wasatch Front cities and towns are changing what is accepted in recycling bins, Salt Lake City reiterates that these changes do not affect our residents.
Draper, Midvale, Murray, Riverton, South Jordan and West Jordan recently announced that they are no longer accepting paper in residential bins, including “paper bags, paper, newspaper, magazines, junk mail, and cereal boxes,” according to Midvale City’s website.
Salt Lake City continues to accept all clean paper products—except shredded paper.
Additionally, the Wasatch Front Waste and
Recycling District (WFWRD), which serves over a dozen other cities in Salt Lake
County is not changing the materials accepted in their cans. In total there are
14 municipalities in Salt Lake County that are not changing: Salt Lake
City and the 13 cities in the Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling District,
according to Pam Roberts, Executive Director of WFWRD.
In addition to paper, Salt Lake City accepts plastic containers, metal cans, and cardboard for recycling. Items should be clean and free from food residue, oils, or liquids.
“We have not made any new restrictions on what is accepted for recycling in Salt Lake City’s curbside program since early 2018,” said Lance Allen, Salt Lake City Waste & Recycling Division Director. “At that time, when China’s National Sword policy went into effect, we only restricted plastic bags and films, Styrofoam, and shredded paper. We also reiterated that recyclables should be clean. Residents should continue to recycle paper, plastic containers, cardboard, and cans as they normally would, and take pride in the beneficial impact they’re having on the environment.”
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.
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 . . .
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
With nearly 5,600 subscribed households, 78 active drop-off areas, and dozens of businesses participating in glass recycling, the Salt Lake City community is already headed in a very sustainable direction. Read more