Note: For three Fridays in August, I will be taking time off from posting on my blog. I’ll lbe back in September.
Some things are good, some things are very good, and some things are what I call supercalifragilistic good! EcoGeneration Recycling Take-Backs falls into this third category. This organization helps the entire planet with its plastics recycling program.
After China refused to take any more plastics from the U.S., there were short-lived, good-hearted attempts and slightly longer, half-hearted attempts, all of which resulted in much confusion. But now there is EcoGeneration. I was afraid to say anything about them earlier because I didn’t know if it would last, but this past Sunday was the third such event and the second one that I’ve attended.
Let me point out right here that EcoGeneration does not handle plastics that have the 10¢ return deposit. Those can be returned elsewhere.
EcoGeneration deals with just about everything else. And these folks are serious. Every single item is examined. Let me repeat that, every single item is examined. If you dump out 100 yogurt containers, every, single one is checked. If there is one that is not acceptable, it is returned to you. These folks are serious about what they do. And one volunteer said to me, “And these will be looked at again.” So, nothing gets past them.
If you don’t have everything exactly correct, never fear. These folks are excellent instructors. I had a bag of yogurt containers last May on my first time. I truly did not think the labels would come off. The young fellow looked in my bag and told me that the labels had to come off. When I told him, I didn’t think it was possible, he patiently showed me how to find the “zipper.” He then unzipped one and slipped off the entire label in less than two seconds. I was so impressed that when I got home, I gleefully unzipped and removed labels on about 60 containers in about 10 minutes. So, this time, when I went to the Siuslaw Middle School on August 1, I had those plus a bunch more and received a totally different response. The volunteer dumped them out, looked at each one, and said, “I wish all recyclers were like you!” The yogurt containers were part of the #5s. That’s the number in the triangle at the bottom of the container.
At the #2s table, all my containers also passed muster. I was on a roll!
But that ended at the #1s table, as some items were returned to me. The clamshells, containers that berries are sold in, and other flimsier plastic containers fall into a different category, although they, too, were marked #1. I learned that not all #1s are the same.
At the last table, they took all my lids. I had a plastic bag with every single plastic lid I’ve used since May 2. That’s when I learned that lids can also be recycled. Even though they took them, they said that they will have to be sorted. They advised me to look for numbers and any paper that may be tucked inside. And I would need to remove any labels on the lids. The learning curve continues.
Now I have a new word in my vocabulary––delabeling. At the May EcoGeneration event, I came home with all of my dozens of milk containers because they still had labels on them. I experimented with various ways to remove them and found a system that works for me.
If you just rip them off with much of the label still attached, there is no easy way to get it all off. Some people soak them overnight. My secret is to use my thumb nails and work very slowly. I work a thumb nail under all along one end loosening it, and then––ever so slowly––ease the entire label off. If a little bit of stickum is still there, I shoot it with my spray bottle of Goo Gone. i work it in with a scrubber until it feels smooth. Then I wash it with soapy water.
I don’t enjoy doing this to a huge pile of items. So, I’ve gotten into the habit of delabeling each item as I empty it, whether it’s milk, peanut butter, or pill bottle containers. After each one is delabeled and washed, it goes into my plastics collecting garbage bag in the garage.
When it’s time to attend the recycling event, I take my three or four garbage bags of containers and sort them. l use my laundry baskets to help sort. And, because it is hard to read some of the numbers hiding within the recycling triangle at the bottom of each container, I have a bright light and magnifying glass.
After doing it a couple of times, you just know the numbers for certain containers. So, like with anything else, it becomes easier with practice.
There is a way to recycle those clamshells and other #1s, but it costs money. Up to this point, there is no charge to attend the recyling event, but they do accept donations. The cost to recycle the clamshells and other #1s is $20 per filled large brown paper bag. Next time, I will have enough to fill a brown paper bag.
Many people attend with their bags clearly numbered. The next EcoGeneration event is scheduled for October 3, 2021, at Siuslaw Middle School in Florence––11 a.m. for seniors and noon for everyone else.
It’s not just a good thing, it’s supercalifragilistic! I’ll be there. Hope to see you too!
Note: EcoGeneration works with Lane County as Community Collectors for clean, label-free plastics coded #2,#4, #5. They also collect and recycle within several other streams of waste and collect at various locations in Lane County. For recycling questions, tips, up-to-date events, see Recycling with EcoGeneration Facebook group or http://www.ecogeneration.org.