For several years most of the towns on Cape Cod have developed various recycling programs from curbside service to pay as you throw. Residents sort their trash at home and bring their glass, plastic, and cardboard to the town landfills where they deposit the recyclables into separate bins depending on the item.
At the start of 2015 the town of Barnstable began single stream recycling at its transfer station. What this means is that residents no longer have to sort their recyclables but can place them all in the same compactor. This should encourage more people to recycle because it makes it more convenient. In addition the town will issue a free “Recycling Only” sticker to residents, again to encourage more people to recycle. The recyclables are sent to a materials recovery facility for sorting and reuse.
The exception to this is corrugated cardboard which should be recycled separately from the other materials. Cardboard brings a higher price to the town which offsets costs. The cardboard should be clean and flattened before it is brought to the landfill.
There are many products that consumers frequently use which can currently be recycled. These include a wide range of plastics in the home. Think of all the plastic water bottles that go to waste! Milk containers, egg cartons, and laundry detergent items are often thrown out with the trash, yet they can be recycled into many other valuable products. When manufactured plastic uses petroleum and when recycled there are significant energy savings.
Another product we use every day is paper. I am amazed how much paper I handle daily. There are magazines, newspapers, junk mail, photocopied paper, and packaging that could easily be recycled. Not only are trees saved in the process, but there are considerable energy savings here.
Of course there are some things that the town cannot accept for recycling. Many of these are obvious because they may contain hazardous materials. Items that are not accepted include batteries, light bulbs, and automotive products. I was disappointed to see Styrofoam on the list as that substance can also harm marine life if it makes it to the ocean.
This was a progressive step forward for Barnstable. We know from experience that recycling increases when made convenient. Most people understand that we need to manage our resources better and to reduce our overall consumption. When living in a fragile coastal environment it is important to move in an environmentally sustainable direction.
Copyright Gil Newton 2009 Thanks to Chris Dumas for logo image.