Conservation Corner: The Third R (Recycle!)

After reducing and reusing, recycling is the final priority in waste reduction, and probably the one with which we are all most familiar. In 2006, for example, Americans recycled around 82 tons of trash, saving the equivalent of more than 10 billion gallons of gasoline in the process. However, this recycling is only about 30% of the trash we are creating. If we increased this number by only 5%, we could reduce emissions by the equivalent of 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Recycling is beneficial not only in terms of stemming landfill growth, but also in many other ways: fewer resources are required to make a product out of recycled materials than out of new ones, using recycled materials allows us to conserve precious raw materials, reycling is itself an important and potentially job-creating industry, and it generates less pollution of the air and water than adding the items to a landfill. Because the goods you recycle need to end up as other consumer goods, it is, of course, important to BUY recycled goods as well as to recycle.

According to the EPA, we recycle around half of our paper, 45% of our aluminum cans, 34% of plastic soda bottles, 29% of milk and water bottles, and only 25% of our glass. In 2006, it was estimated that each American consumed 167 bottles of water, but only recycled 38, leading 38 billion bottles to landfills. According to the National Recycling Coalition, enough aluminum is discarded every three months to rebuild the country's entire commercial air fleet, while recycling a single can would save enough energy to power a television for three hours.

Hopefully, you are now convinced that you should be recycling everything possible, in which case, all that remains are the rules for doing so in Lakewood:

Curbside pickup is available for metal cans, glass jars and bottles, plastic bottles, books, newspapers, magazines, other types of paper, and yard waste.

Rinsed-out plastic, glass, and metal can go together in clear or blue plastic bags (tied closed). The bags should be 30-gallons or less, and weigh less than 30 pounds. If putting out several lightweight bags, tie them together so they do not drift away or spill.

All kinds of paper can be set out together, tied with string in bundles or packed in paper bags or boxes. If in boxes, label them as paper recycling and limit to less than 30 pounds as well.

For yard waste, limit weight to 50 pounds per container or bundle and use yard waste bags, boxes, or labeled garbage cans. Cut branches to 4' or less and tie in bundles; cut logs to 18" in length and 6" in diameter. Be sure to separate yard waste from trash.

Place everything on the curb after 6pm the night before your collection day or before 6:30am on collection day. To find our your collection day, or if you have any other questions or concerns, call the Lakewood Division of Refuse & Recycling at 216-252-4322.

DO be sure that everything is closed securely, to avoid spills/litter.

DON'T mix paper with plastic, metal, and glass.

DON'T put paper or yard waste in plastic bags.

In addition to Lakewood's curbside pickup, some items that are not picked up curbside may be dropped off at the Recycling Center (12920 Berea Road). The Lakewood Recycling Center accepts clean clothes, paint (not latex), motor oil, antifreeze, car batteries, tires, cell phones, fluorescent light tubes, rechargable batteries (Home Depots and Radio Shacks also accept these), computers and computer equipment, appliances, mattresses, and the usual curbside pickup items. During the winter season (until March), their hours are Monday-Friday 7am to 3pm and Saturday 8am to noon.

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Volume 4, Issue 2, Posted 4:46 PM, 01.10.2008