Thursday, December 23, 2021

Curbside recycling pickup suspended. I would like to know if our recyclables were going to the landfill anyway.

by Rod Williams, Dec. 22, 2021- I have often thought that if I had the capacity, either the extra energy myself or a paid reporter, I would like to find out the truth about Metro's curbside recycling.  Well, I don't have a reporter, and doing that piece of investigative reporting has never reached the top of my priority list, but still, I have questions I would like to have answers to about Metro's recycling. Once, I wrote an email to the director of our recycling program but got evasive non-answers to the questions I asked, and never followed up to get straight answers. 

I don't know, but I suspect Nashville's recycling is wishcycling.  If I could get answers, I would want to know how much it costs to dispose of a ton of garbage in a landfill.  I would want to know how much we have to pay to get someone to take a ton of our recyclables.  What is the real net difference?  Is landfilling cheaper than recycling?  I don't know.  Do our recyclables often end up in the landfill anyway? If so, how often?  I would like to know.  I know we do pay for companies to take our recyclables.  At one time, it is my understanding, a company paid us for our recyclables. 

The reason I suspect that our recycling program may be a scam and simply wishcycling is because it often is in other places.  A report out of Seattle Washington says over 2000 tops of paper collected as recyclables were landfilled.  This is not that uncommon.  One sees stories like this from all across the nation.  The problem is that China has, for the most part, stopped accepting plastics and paper for recycling and China was the world's number one customer for them. 

In an article appearing in The Huffington PostThe Dirty Truth Is Your Recycling May Actually Go To Landfills, this situation of recyclable actually not being recycled is reported. Similar stories have appeared in The New York Times and other major publications.

This week, The Tennessean reports, Nashville suspends recycling pickup services as trash collection woes sap Metro resources. The article says that Metro recycling trucks and staff are being reassigned to trash collection due to growing trash collection delays caused by staffing and fleet issues.  The article explains how we got in such a mess that the garbage is not being collected. The article says this is a temporary suspension of the curbside pickup but gives no clue as to how long it may be before curbside is resumed. 

The article list drop-off recycling locations where one may take their recyclables. I won't be doing so.  I need some assurances that when collected as recyclables, they will not be landfilled anyway.  And, I need assurances that if they are recycled that it is worth my gas money and time to do it.  I am civic-minded and don't mind doing something for the public good, but my time is valuable.  If it takes me three gallons of gas a week and three hours of my time to recycle and only saves the city $3 it is not a wise use of my time. 

I am not opposed to recycling I just wanted it to be a rational thing to do.  A long time ago before Metro had curbside recycling I volunteered many a Saturday morning at a recycling drop-off site, helping people dispose of their recyclables and making sure they were properly sorted and did not contaminate the whole batch.  I do recycle now. I also compost and a lot of my paper waste gets composted instead of placed in the recycle bin.  I like to garden and am now retired and have this year stepped up my gardening game.  With time to do it, I started composting my kitchen waste, and yard waste.  Recently, I added paper waste. The worms seem to really like cardboard. (If interested in composting see this video: How to compost.)

I support recycling if it makes sense. I will do it myself if it makes sense to me.  I will support the city's recycling program if convinced it makes economic sense for the city and is not all for show and nothing more than an exercise to make people simply feel virtuous. 

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