Tri-County Recycling Center reports that some area drop-off programs are accepting several items that cannot be recycled in regional markets. "The main problem area is with plastics," according to recycling center manager Steve Penney. The problem has progressed to the point that several bales of plastics were rejected at the mills because of the amount of contaminants (unacceptable items) in the bales. The recycling center tries to pull items as they come through, "but it is impossible to catch everything with our reduced manpower."
Penney is asking local communities, especially those who collect materials in recycling trailers, to be more careful about what goes into the trailers.
In the plastics category, Tri-County accepts only plastic bottles--and only those bottles with a #1 and #2 on the bottom. The number is normally located on the bottom of each bottle inside a triangle shaped recycling symbol. The industry's definition of a bottle requires it to have a neck with a screw off or pop off lid. "Bottles only" means no butter and whipped topping tubs, no "clam shell" type containers that are common in prepared and take-out foods, and no plastic meat trays or plastic trays from microwave meals.
Number one plastic bottles normally include all soda, water, juice and beverage bottles and most clear food bottles, such as catsup, mayonnaise, mustard, liquid soap and detergent bottles, etc. Number two bottles include milk and dairy liquids and a wide variety of laundry detergent, bleach, shampoo, lotion, and other household bottles with a #2 on the bottom. With all bottles, empty food or liquids, rinse out if necessary to remove remaining contents, and discard the lid or top as they are not included in the recycling process. Although they do not have the appearance of a bottle, plastic coffee containers, without the lid, are acceptable as a #2 plastic.
Other items accepted at area collection centers are flattened cardboard and boxes, all types of paper (school and office paper, newspaper, magazines, phone books, junk mail, flyers, etc.) with the exception of dark colored construction paper or art paper with items glued on. Paper must be kept dry -- do not try to recycle wet paper. Cardboard, however, can be wet and still be acceptable.
Aluminum and tin cans are also collected. As with plastic bottles, they should be empty of liquids with any food residue rinsed clean.
"The ability to provide good quality materials to our mills is what keeps the recycling center open," says Penney, and Tri-County is asking for the area's help to improve the quality of materials coming into the center.
Tri-County Recycling is located at 500 Landfill Road near the west end of Cherokee Village. It is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Penney can be contacted at 870-994-3020.