Sustainability

Are you still not convinced recycling is essential?

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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Household Hazardous Waste event set for Saturday

By Caroline Ask, Environmental Compliance & Recycling Manager

Area residents are invited to participate in the fall household hazardous waste collection event on Saturday from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Texas A&M University General Services Building. The entrance to the facility is on Harvey Road east of Veterans Park and Athletic Complex.

The free event is open to Brazos Valley residents and offers safe disposal of a wide range of household hazardous wastes. Improper disposal — such as pouring cleaning agents down a storm inlet, on the ground, or into your recycling or garbage containers — poses severe health and safety risks to not only the environment but to solid waste, wastewater, and other workers.

Accepted items include household quantities of paint, pesticides, herbicides, oil and oil filters, cleaning agents, antifreeze, fluorescent bulbs, and car batteries. Items not accepted are tires, commercial or industrial waste, PCBs, radioactive materials, explosives, household trash, and biological waste.

Please bring your household materials in the original containers with labels intact — and don’t mix products. You should also label materials that aren’t in the original packages and secure products so they won’t tip or leak. Products should be in the trunk or bed of your vehicle, not in the passenger area.

You must stay in your vehicle with the windows rolled-up while staff members unload your items. If you need to communicate with staffers, you must wear a face covering.

Additional event information and a complete list of accepted materials can be found on the Twin Oaks Landfill website.

 


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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20 ways to celebrate the 50th Earth Day

By Caroline Ask, Environmental Compliance & Recycling Manager

In 1970, 20 million people mobilized to call for greater protections for our planet. The event became the world’s first Earth Day.

Earth Day has since become the largest secular observance in the world. More than 190 countries and a billion people celebrate it as a day to encourage positive changes in behavior that benefit our environment.

Since Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we offer these creative and innovative ways to do your part:

  1. Take a walk to identify native plant species in your area — or simply enjoy your surroundings.
  2. Craft a nature collage from items found on your walk.
  3. Compost your food waste.
  4. Avoid using herbicides or pesticides before rain events.
  5. Clean out your closet, but instead of throwing your old clothes away, donate them.
  6. Check out NASA’s Earth Day 2020: 50th Anniversary Toolkit.
  7. Calculate your carbon footprint.
  8. Research how to start a backyard garden and ways to support helpful insects and pollinators.
  9. When shopping, use reusable bags. However, some retailers are recommending the use of plastic bags until the COVID-19 outbreak subsides.
  10. Identify the types of accepted recyclables in College Station.
  11. Learn how to dispose of household hazardous waste Our next collection event is Oct. 24.
  12. Follow the Brazos Valley WaterSmart network to use efficient watering techniques for your lawn.
  13. Join a virtual Earth Day
  14. Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth.
  15. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  16. Construct a rainwater harvesting barrel for landscape irrigation.
  17. Repurpose jars and other containers as beverage glasses or small bowls.
  18. Serve a fun Earth Day-inspired dessert such as dirt pudding to teach your kids about the importance of soil.
  19. Plant a tree.
  20. Tag us with your Earth Day activities using the hashtag #BVEarthDay2020.

Happy Earth Day!

 


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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5 ways you can make single-stream recycling work even better

BV_Recycling

By Heather Woolwine, Recycling and Environmental Compliance Manager

If you’re a homegrown, organic eatin’, treehuggin’ hippie like me, you’ll find a way to recycle no matter where you are. Our enthusiasm for recycling sometimes makes for cheeky comments from family and friends because, like most people, they prefer a realistic and reasonable level of convenience.

That’s where College Station’s new single-stream recycling program comes in.

Until we launched the program in January, residents sorted recyclables into 11-gallon clear plastic bags. Single-stream appeals to those who have never recycled because it’s easy and uses a large container, similar to your trash disposal.

The new program has already paid incredible dividends as recycling participation has increased from 69 percent in 2015 to 84 percent this year. We’ve also seen participation by businesses and apartments climb from 19 percent to 24 percent.

Better participation means much less garbage has been going to the landfill. How much less? Let’s take a look at the numbers:

Recycling chart

As the City of College Station’s recycling and environmental compliance manager, I get lots of questions from residents about how the program works and how they can make it even better.

Here are five simple ways to do your part:

1. Avoid Contamination.

Make sure you are only placing clean, acceptable items in your blue recycling container. While something may be recyclable, that form of recycling may not be available in this area. Any food container that has been visibly soiled with food or grease is not recyclable and should be put in the garbage. This list of acceptable items is also printed on top of your recycling container:

  • Aluminum/tin/steel cans.
  • Glass (all colors).
  • Plastics1and2Plastics (not bags) with No. 1 or No. 2 marked on them. If one of the symbols on the right isn’t on it, don’t recycle it.
  • Mixed/white paper (Post-It notes, index cards, file folders, colored paper).
  • Junk mail (staples and windowed envelopes are fine).
  • Newspaper and inserts.
  • Brown paper bags.
  • Phone books.
  • Flattened cardboard.
  • Shredded paper (must be placed in clear plastic bags).
  • Paperboard (such as cereal boxes and dairy/juice containers).

If it’s not listed, it’s not accepted as a recyclable and is considered garbage.

2. Items should be clean and free of debris.

Paper and cardboard recyclables must be dry and free of food debris, and caps from plastics should be removed and discarded. You should also rinse and clean discarded containers to keep your recycling container from getting sticky or smelly.

3. Don’t bag your recyclables, unless …

The only recyclable that should be bagged in clear plastic is shredded paper. Bagging other items isn’t necessary and could cause significant and costly damage to the sorting equipment. Consider recycling plastic bags or using reusable bags when you go to the store.

4. Pay attention to your collection schedule.

Unlike garbage collection, recycling is collected every other week. It’s also a good idea to have your container out early because yours may be picked up as early as 8 a.m. If you can’t remember your designated collection day, visit cstx.gov/recycle or download the free MyWaste app. If you have a missed collection, report it as soon as possible by emailing your street address to RecycleRequests@cstx.gov or by calling 979.764.6228.

5. Make sure your container is unobstructed.

Place your recycling and garbage container about four feet from any obstruction. Examples of obstructions include mailboxes, vehicles, and other containers. City ordinance requires your garbage and recycling containers be removed from the curb within 12 hours of collection.
 
Recycling options are also available for businesses and apartments. To learn more, go to cstx.gov/recycle or contact me at hwoolwine@cstx.gov or 979-764-6228.

Related Links

 


13600248_10210527460128279_3526848318137930649_nAbout the Author

Heather Woolwine has been with the City of College Station for 11 years and has been recycling and environmental compliance manager since 2014. She served as the city’s recycling coordinator from 2007-14. She attended the Environmental Training Institute at the University of Texas-Arlington and is licensed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.


 

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Podcast: Our first look at single-stream recycling numbers

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

College Station’s single-stream recycling program made its debut in January. Since then, we’ve all wanted to see the data. Has participation been good? Are citizens putting the right stuff in their blue bins, or are they fouling up the system by throwing bad stuff in the wrong container?

I’ve been waiting for that data, too. Podcast guest Heather Woolwine, College Station’s Recycling and Environmental Compliance Manager, shares her perspective on the ups and downs of the program’s first four months.

Podcast Archive

Click below to listen. If Soundcloud doesn’t play in your older version of Internet Explorer, click here to hear to the audio file from your system.

 


csf_jsocolAbout the Author

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his seventh year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. He’s a native of Breckenridge.


 

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New single-stream recycling program starts in January

SingleStreamRecycling

By Lacey Lively, Marketing & Community Outreach Coordinator

The City of College Station’s new single-stream recycling program allows you to put your recyclables in one container. If you live in a single-family home, you’ll receive a blue 95-gallon recycling bin sometime in January — even if you didn’t participate in the old curbside program.

Collection by Brazos Valley Recycling begins on your designated day two weeks after you receive the new container.

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