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Monday, December 10th, 2001

single-stream recycling

The bin is huge, like a squat refrigerator, except it’s blue. It is designed to hold 1 week’s worth of recyclables for a single family, although in some cases it has room for the family too. It’s that big.

Single-stream recycling is an amazing thing, really and truly. Quick, call your county supervisor and ask for it now. Go ahead; I’ll wait.

The great thing about the blue bin, in addition to its size, is that I can put just about anything inside: paper, aluminum, glass, those funky juice-box packages (is it paper? is it plastic? Yes.), six of the 7 types of plastic, even aerosol cans. I don’t need to sort or separate my recycling — just dump it in the bin and let the single-stream gnomes work it out.

Glass, aluminum, and paper recycling is old news these days (to our great fortune and health), so it is the plastic recycling that is really exciting here. Previously our curbside program would accept only plastic #s 1 and 2, PETE and HDPE — but now, as a part of the single-stream initiative, the whole gang is invited: V, LDPE, PP, and PS. Take a look around today; you’ll be surprised at how many of these products you consume. Grocery-store salsa, hummus, sour cream containers: polypropylene, #5. The squeeze bottle of honey, and the bag the newspaper was wrapped in: low-density polyethylene, #4. The fancy shampoo bottle in the shower: polyvinyl chloride, #3. Last week, these would have gone into the landfill. This week, they get recycled.

I remember, about 25 years ago, driving across town with my dad to drop off empty wine and soda bottles for recycling. There were three piles into which we had to sort our glass, one for each color: clear, brown, or green. Have we come a long way, or what?

In related news, the Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition provides this nifty poster promoting paper recycling. It is yours for the cost of a download.


(Just don’t print it!)

posted to channel: Recycling
updated: 2004-02-22 22:49:16

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