It is no secret that recycling is a growing, global industry that affects everyone in some way. From oil prices to international policies to consumer habits, the market remains complex and dynamic. Unfortunately, mixed messages and unclear guidelines over the past 20 to 30 years have made the process of recycling cumbersome and downright painful for some. In an effort to remain a good steward of the environment, we at Penn Waste, Inc. wanted to debunk five common recycling myths.
Every waste hauler accepts the same recyclables. Most companies will take the same basic materials such as cardboard and plastic bottles. However, each waste hauler tends to abide by their own recycling guidelines. From a waste hauler’s perspective, we want to offer our customers the most comprehensive list of acceptable items that can be recycled.
In some cases, markets for items that were once “standards” simply vanish due to mill closures, increased cost to process the materials, etc. If it becomes apparent that it’s time to discontinue accepting a particular item, we will issue new guidelines as soon as possible so everyone will have the most up-to-date information.
I don’t need to recycle because it’s just going into the trash anyway. In 2015, Penn Waste, Inc. opened our newest recycling center. The 96,000-square-foot facility is home to a series of innovative and state-of-the-art machines that assist our staff in properly and efficiently sorting the material that we receive each day. Every effort is made to capture as much viable material as possible. Our goal is to recycle, not throw good material away.
In some cases, the material might be too soiled, too small, or it might even be something that’s not recyclable anyway. This material is sent to the York Incinerator, which is a waste-to-energy facility. While the material may not be recycled here in the traditional sense, it is ultimately recycled by becoming energy that is used to power thousands of homes in York County.
If I throw it in the recycle bin, it has to be recycled. Contamination (AKA trash) is the largest issue we face as recyclers. Roughly 30-35 percent of the material received each day is material that we cannot process! That’s a huge number that we are trying to combat with our “Back to Basics” campaign.
This contamination damages our equipment, harms our employees and poses severe health risks to everyone. Some of the material we’ve seen on a regular basis includes (but is not limited to): used diapers, clothing, Styrofoam and packing materials, plastic and metal coat hangers, plastic bags, furniture, children’s toys, etc.
One contaminant of special mention is medical waste. We have seen an abundance of medical waste come through our facility over the past 24 months. Needles (new or used), fluid bags, soiled hospital gowns, medical equipment, etc. should never be placed in a recycling container! Please dispose of medical waste and other non-recyclable items properly.