Where does my plastic go after I recycle it in Durango’s single-stream recycling bin? What are the odds that it’s really getting made into other plastic goods? Am I just fooling myself into thinking my plastic is actually getting recycled? – Michelle
In the era of fake news and alternative facts, it’s easy to see how one’s faith in recycling could be crushed like a beer can headed for the landfill dumpster.
So Action Line tossed out the plastics question to our good friend Imogen Ainsworth, the city’s sustainability coordinator and a singular advocate of single-stream recycling.
Here’s the workflow: Material collected by the city is taken to the Durango Recycling Center just west of town at the Tech Center.
Stuff is baled there and then transported to Albuquerque and Friedman Recycling, a 30-year-old, family-owned waste-control business that also has operations in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas.
Friedman’s Albuquerque recovery and sorting facility can process 120 million tons of recyclables annually.
That includes the castoffs from Durango.
In other words, we’re sending our wretched refuse yearning for Friedman.
Sorry for taking liberty with a certain poem.
It shows a lack of deportment.
Action Line will now put further puns on ice.
Meanwhile, back at Durango City Hall, sustainability officials have already tested the waters, making sure single-stream recycling doesn’t have a dead-sea outcome.
“We actually checked in with Friedman at the end of June this year to make sure that all our material was being recycled,” Imogen said.
The company “assured us that they currently have markets for all the material we are sending to them and that nothing is being landfilled,” she confirmed
If Friedman can’t sell recyclables immediately, the company is able to store material until markets improve.
“As of June 27, Friedman said that backlogged material was the lowest it had been in a year and that material was moving well,” Imogen said.
In the meantime, the city encourages residents to look for ways to avoid and reduce.
Not having to recycle is better than filling up your blue bin.
And speaking of that bin, Imogen would like to remind folks to double-check what can and cannot be recycled.
The surest way to have your recyclables end up in the landfill is to include stuff such as plastic bags, flower pots, Styrofoam, oil or chemical containers and broken toys in your recycling.
Check out www.durangorecycles.com to determine deleterious detritus.
You can also use the site’s “What Goes Where” tool to make sure you’re not placing plastics not accepted in the single-stream program.
The city takes No. 1 through No. 7 plastic bottles, tubs, jugs, trays and containers. If your plastic lacks a number in a triangle, keep it out.
The do’s and don’ts of recycling might be old hat but they still need to be top-of-mind.
And to be honest, recycling is not the most exciting domestic task. Is it important? Absolutely. But exciting? Hardly.
Recycling is a repetitive weekly chore that can be summed up thusly:
Take blue containers to the curb for early morning pick up.
In other words ...
“Bin there, dawn that.”
Email questions to email@example.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you’ve ever put a roll of plastic bags into a plastic bag when checking out at the grocery store – and paid for it with plastic.