Even while recycling in Salem is getting a boost with the future addition of collection bins at the Walmart on West Main Street, lingering reports about the city’s decision not to accept glass as a recyclable could still be haunting the program. The reports seem to have grown into rumors that Salem doesn’t recycle any of its collections.
“Back when the glass market dissipated, we went for a period of time still collecting glass and looking for a market … We just couldn’t keep accumulating glass, so we sent it to a the landfill,” said Jim Fender, director of Salem’s solid waste management program. “It gave us enough information to get a figure on what our recovery rate was” for a possible reentry into the recycled glass market, Fender said.
As for the recyclables that are accepted by the city now, ton loads of plastic No. 1 and No. 2, as well as aluminum and steel cans and scrap metal, are recycled to Roanoke-based Cycle Systems. Newspapers and 1-ton cardboard bales are shipped to Sonoco, a recycling company in Columbia, South Carolina.
The city pays $41 for each ton load of waste that ends up in the landfill. For the recyclables, the city saves that money when they don’t end up with the rest of the trash, as well as recovering some market value for the materials (so that even when the market value is down, costs are saved.)
Currently, the bins on Indiana Street are emptied about twice a week. The recyclables are separated into tractor-trailer sized collection bins for each type, and then shipped to the proper location once they’re full. City employees even scrutinize between No. 1 and No. 2 plastics.
“At one time the city’s waste stream was 50 percent commercial and 50 percent residential,” said Fender. He explained that most often commercial businesses’ waste is easier to deal with because it is composed mostly of raw material and is often the bi-product of industrial processes.
However, the residential side of the city’s waste stream is about to get a jump start. Fender estimates that recycling bins at Walmart will bolster the city’s collection of recyclable materials by five or six times. They will mirror the Indiana Street drop-off location, but the city is already planning on emptying the bins at least four times a week, and possibly every day if needed, said Fender.
The Walmart site is expected to be fully functional by early this January.
Tips for reducing your waste stream (While most of these you’ve already heard, it never hurts to hear useful advice again with a different spin):
1.) Reduce the amount of trash that leaves your home while you’re in the grocery or retail store. “Most businesses want to put me with the janitor,” when he goes to businesses to consult on waste reduction management. “I need to speak to the purchasing manager,” Fender said. Be a smart “purchasing manager” for your house!
Buying items with recyclable packaging or buying things in bulk that you can divvy up yourself (potato chips, drink sweeteners or flavorings, sodas and adult beverages in cans or plastic bottles).
2.) Reuse. Can you reuse it or find somebody else that can? (Bread ties can be reused for gardening, glass bottles to aerate the soils of potted plants, glass jars with wide lids for seed soaking … What other non-recyclables can be reused for common (or uncommon) household purposes?)
3.) Recycle. Duh! Figure out a way to work recycling into your family’s kitchen or porch, and the schedule. What about composting? Non-meat product foods can be composted into a nutrient rich plant food. Can’t use it? Ask your gardening neighbors if they can!