On separating – the nitty-gritty of recyclables and refuse disposal; how done right can be air-helpful

Fresno, California, in my opinion, has an exemplary recycling endeavor.

I’m not just saying this because I’m a member of the greater Fresno citizenry or because I’m an active contributor and participant in the local waste management effort.

And, it has nothing to do with my becoming aware of the recycling goings-on in these here parts as far back as the 1980s as a matter of fact.

No, it’s more about a program that not only works but works well. Though, this is not to say that the program is not without problems that need fixing.

320px-Landfill_face[1]Via television broadcast public service announcement (PSA) format, the City of Fresno is currently reminding folks to take extra special care, in my opinion, to ensure that such items as dirty diapers and Styrofoam, for example, are placed in the gray bins designated for trash and not put in the blue collection bins which are used exclusively for the stowing of plastics, metal, glass and paper, the stuff that is to be set aside for recycling – in other words, that material which is recyclable. It is my guess that too much non-recyclable refuse is being tossed in the blue bins and ending up in recycling yards rather than arriving at trash disposal sites and therefore the need for the PSAs.

An educated guess also is that workers have to sift and sort through the non-recyclable matter to separate out the stuff that can’t be recycled from that which can be. And, regarding the then separated, non-recyclable rubbish, it is a good bet that this then has to be trucked over to the appropriate disposal site that receives and handles this particular type of waste, an extra step that could very well be eliminated had that waste been put into the gray trash bins at the outset, meaning at the mouth or source in the waste disposal chain.

All this extra and what I would deem unnecessary waste redistribution takes extra time and costs money. And, if the trucks transporting the non-recyclable materials from recycling facility to garbage dump, if not low- or no-emissions vehicles themselves, can cause additional and unnecessary area air-quality damage. Not a favorable situation by any measure.

The other side to this is that when citizens in their disposing of waste, if done the correct way with the non-recyclable material placed in the gray bins, the recyclable items put into the blue bins and the yard clippings and shrub and tree trimmings going into the green containers (why said containers are color-coded the way they are) then, bottom line, everything gets separated accordingly and when such are picked up and dumped into the appropriate waste-collection trucks (on a once-per-week basis), the entire system functions as originally intended to function and if this happens, it just makes for a better program and results in improved conditions all around. I would imagine that if a problem of this nature exists in Fresno (which I assume it does), other cities are likely experiencing the same sort of thing.

There is a reason I feel as strongly as I do about the city of Fresno’s recycling program. But, I’d be lying if I said that there isn’t a need for improvement. And, I’ll be the first to say that improvement starts with us at home and at work.

Waste disposal here in the “Big Raisin” can and will get better if all work together and a little harder and smarter at it. I do not believe that’s asking too terribly much. Do you?

Image above: Ashley Felton

About Alan Kandel

Alan turned hardscrabble technology related experience into a professional writing gig and has never looked back. Alan resides in California's heartland - the San Joaquin Valley.

One thought on “On separating – the nitty-gritty of recyclables and refuse disposal; how done right can be air-helpful

  1. Another mandate on the horizon for recycling and disposal programs is the diversion of food waste from landfills to alternative uses (producing compost or generating electricity, for example). Not much has been published in the popular press about the phased schedule for diversion, so this reader would enjoy your digging into statutory requirements, regulatory activity, and industry preparations for meeting these requirements. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

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