#310–EcoGeneration recycling plastics just got easier . . .

If it’s plastic and has a label, I can probably figure out how to remove it without taking all day. On my first trip to EcoGeneration Plastics Recycling Take-Backs last April, I learned about delabeling yogurt containers and milk jugs. I had just learned a new word and skill and was motivated. So, I practiced on my empty containers until I got the hang of it. On my second trip in August, I learned how to delabel plastic jar-like containers, plastic clamshell containers, and plastic pill bottle containers. I was becoming an expert. On my third trip in October, I learned that I don’t need to delabel some of the containers anymore. Recycling plastics just got easier.

EcoGeneration came to Florence at the Siuslaw Middle School in April, August, and October.

I was glad to have learned the skills, but pleased to not to have to delabel so many. It’s a real pain to have to delabel one or more plastic containers nearly every night before doing dinner dishes. However, it’s even more of a pain to face a couple of large bulging garbage bags full of plastic containers all needing delabeling and having to do them all at once. I only let that happen one time. Never again!

While some of the most difficult labels to remove, no longer have to be removed, there are still plenty that need it. I’ve found two secrets of successful delabeling that work for me––go very, very, very slowly as you peel off, and use Goo Gone to remove any stickum left on the container. Then, I wash with soapy water to remove the Goo Gone!

I will no longer have to delabel plastic containers in stream #1 that are designed for screw-on lids and have a seam on the side and bottom such as this peanut butter container.

While many groups have attempted plastics recycling during the last few years, EcoGeneration is the only one I know of to be actually succeeding. It’s a plastics recycling entity that covers Lane County and seems to be quite successful. It is so appreciated by those of us who have been frustrated at no plastics recycling for the past few years, since China stopped accepting recycled plastics from the U.S. Each time I’ve gone to the Recycling Take-Backs, there have been lots of people with lots of bags of plastics and very happy to be there.  

From what I can tell, EcoGeneration’s goals are to reduce plastics pollution and to train volunteers to run the Recycling Take-Backs held throughout the county. In so doing, that will get them to what is probably their main goal––educating the public on how to recycle the various types of plastics. It’s all about the streams. Not creeks but streams like in subdivisions of plastics. The #2, #4, and #5 streams still require delabeling. Then there’s the troublesome #1s where the ones that have screw on lids and seams on the sides and bottom (like the peanut butter container in the photo), no longer have to be delabeled. But other #1s do need to be delabeled and put in the Brown Bag stream.

Examples are the clamshell containers that strawberries and blueberries come in. They still need to be delabeled. They are #1s that go in the “Brown Bag” stream. The Brown Bag stream is not free like everything else; each regular size brown bag costs $20 to recycle with EcoGeneration. I have learned how to stack and pack them. So, I can get a whole lot into one brown bag.

Don’t have to delabel translucent milk jugs. Don’t even have to take to EcoGeneration because other recycling now accepts translucent ones. Opaque ones still need to be delabeled.

Because the garbage trucks that pick up recycling now will accept translucent, but not opaque, milk jugs and the transfer stations will also accept them, they no longer need to be delabeled. Don’t even take them to EcoGeneration. Treat them like the rest of recycling—cardboard, newspapers, glass, etc.––and put them out to be picked up by the garbage company.

For me, the most difficult delabeling involved plastic pill bottles. Now, they no longer need to be delabeled. Woo! Hoo! They were the worst!

The Recycling Take-Backs have accepted lids––a gallon-size, Zip Lock bag full of plastic lids––for free in the past but no more. Now, they will be accepted only in the $20 Brown Bag stream.

Vitamins and nutritional supplements no longer have to be delabeled. So glad. These were the most difficult for me. Prescriptions still need to be delabeled.

All of these changes were announced by EcoGeneration’s founder, David Gardiepy, a Master Recycler from Cottage Grove, who founded this non-profit organization two years ago. He spoke to those of us standing in line with our bags of plastics at Siuslaw Middle School in Florence on October 3. Gardiepy, an energetic young man, jumped on top of one of the picnic tables and explained the changes in rules regarding delabeling and praised everyone for being there.

EcoGeneration will be back next year. So great to be able to recycle plastics again!

He is the perfect person to educate all of us and to be the all-around cheer leader for EcoGeneration. The stated mission of the organization is to safeguard and improve the ecosystems that humans coexist with. Their focus is on protecting biodiversity in and around the Pacific Northwest.

Funding for the 2021 events was provided in part by the Western Lane Community Foundation and several other community organizations and businesses.

Last time I checked, the schedule for next year had not been set. To find out when and where the Recycling Take-Backs will be in 2022 and for more information about all the plastics that can be recycled and how to sort them, click on www.ecogeneration.org

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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