By Caroline Ask, Environmental Compliance & Recycling Manager
People typically think of recycling as tossing cardboard boxes or plastic bottles in their blue collection bin and calling it a day. But recycling is much more complicated than that.
Recycling is a critical link in the manufacturing supply chain and a vital component of our economy. The recycling sector has an annual economic impact of $110 billion and directly employs more than 164,000 people while diverting 194.1 billion pounds of materials from landfills.
Are you still not convinced recycling is essential?
According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the U.S. steel industry relies on scrap metal as its largest raw material input. About 70% of steel and stainless steel produced in the U.S. is made from ferrous and stainless scrap supplied by recyclers.
More than 75% of American paper mills depend on recovered fiber from recycling operations for their daily production needs. About 58% of tissue mill feedstock is recovered from recycling.
Before we place aluminum cans in our garbage bin instead of recycling them, we should recognize that more than 50% of our aluminum comes from recycled materials, including the aluminum placed in single-stream containers.
Here’s how you can become a recycling expert instead of a wish-cycler:
- Research approved, recyclable commodities for your area by consulting and downloading the City of College Station’s Household Waste and Recycling Guide.
- Remember that quality is just as important as quantity, so make sure the materials you place in your bin are empty, unbagged, and clean.
- The recycling symbol and resin number do NOT mean the item is always recyclable — it corresponds to the item’s material. Our recycling program only accepts plastics types 1 and 2.
The 2015 Study on the Economic Impacts of Recycling estimated that 43% of the total tons generated and disposed of in Texas could’ve been recycled. Material disposal versus recycling may not be practical due to a lack of recycling infrastructure, contamination, access to end markets, or a need for additional public education and outreach.
Here’s how you can bin less and recycle more:
- Reduce the amount of non-recyclable materials in our recycling stream by placing only accepted items in your bin.
- Take your single-use grocery bags to the recycling kiosks at your grocery store.
- Avoid purchasing items with excessive packaging or purchase items approved in our recycling program.
- Donate gently used clothing, children’s toys, extra paint, and other reusable commodities to local non-profit organizations.
- In general, try to limit your consumption of single-use materials.
For more information on your local recycling program or for specific recycling and disposal questions, visit cstx.gov/recycle or call 979-764-3690.
About the Blogger
Carolina Ask is in her third year with the city and her first as the environmental compliance and recycling manager. She previously served as an engineering program specialist and environmental inspector. Caroline previously held environmental health positions at Texas A&M and Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Bioenvironmental Sciences from A&M in 2012.
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