recycle, reuse Taking recycling to a whole new levelJanuary 13,2014
BARRE – As part of my job at the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District, I get calls about how to recycle this or that, or where to bring a potentially reusable item. This is my favorite part of my job, because I’m talking to people who not only recycle, but for whom reusing or recycling everything they possibly can is the goal. These are my people.
CVSWMD provides a variety of resources for people ready to take recycling to the next level, including an “A-Z” guide on its website, www.cvswmd.org, which lists items — from aerosol cans to yoga mats — for which outlets exist other than the landfill. In this vein, and in keeping with its zero waste implementation plan, the district opened the Additional Recyclables Collection Center (ARCC) almost two years ago. The ARCC collects all those things you always wished you could recycle, but never knew how. Our Operations Manager, Carl Witke, calls it central Vermont’s first “recycling lab.”
The well-known “big ticket” items we all (hopefully!) put into our recycling bins already have established markets. Steel, paper, plastic, cardboard, aluminum — these are worth money; why else would anyone invest in a Materials Recovery Facility, where it all gets sorted? Why the investment in trucks, staff, collections? Because these materials are valuable, and markets exist for them. The items collected at the ARCC also have marketable streams, though much smaller ones. Some of those items get reused — such as pill bottles, which we send to an organization that ships them to Africa, where medical bottles are scarce.
At the ARCC’s Recycling Lab, we are testing out new markets, and hope to broaden them so that the types of items that seem strange to recycle now can move into the mainstream.
CVSWMD also partners with Terracycle, an organization with the tagline “Eliminate the idea of waste.” We collect items such as spray bottle triggers, empty tape containers and cores, foil-lined energy bar wrappers and more as participants in Terracycle “brigades,” in which the items collected create new materials. Check out their website to learn more at www.terracycle.com.
The ARCC has recently moved into the old Times Argus building, at 540 North Main Street in Barre. We’ll be celebrating the “Grand Reopening” Saturday, January 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m., and brief speeches by Barre Mayor (and building owner) Tom Lauzon, and CVSWMD Board Chairman Fred Thumm. Please stop by and see what happens at the ARCC, bring items for drop off, enjoy refreshments, kids activities and compost-truck demos. We also have new hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., and the third Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
We’re excited to have moved into a more central space because we encounter increasingly more people who come to us thrilled and relieved to have found an environmentally sound way to rid themselves of materials that otherwise may have become trash.
Some tips for ARCC users:
Sort materials before coming. Some people use cereal bags (which we collect) or jars or yogurt tubs to sort small items. Staff is on hand during posted hours to help people sort items, but it makes things easier for everyone if it comes pre-sorted.
If bringing pellet bags (yes, we recycle those!) turn them inside out and shake the dust out beforehand.
Latex paint must be liquid — it goes to a reuse program and gets reblended and sold under the name “Local Colors.” We can’t accept dry paint.
We take batteries of all kinds, but the tops and bottoms of each battery need to be taped, as a safety precaution.
We’ll take any electronics smaller than a microwave. There are free e-waste collection sites throughout the state that collect larger electronics for free.
If bringing prescription bottles, remove the label for privacy protection and make sure the cap is secure. We can’t send them to be reused without the caps.
Beauty product packaging must be clean. If there’s a little bit left of, say, chapstick, clean it out before bringing us the empty container.
We take plastic lids smaller than 2 inches in diameter; if larger than 2 inches in diameter, they can go into regular recycling. We also accept metal lids (same sizing) and any small metal objects, but they must be separated from plastic lids.
Stop by our new location during our new hours, check us out at the Grand Reopening on the 18th, and learn more about how you can take recycling to a higher level. Among the many payoffs: your trash volume will go way down, and you will be treating your materials responsibly.
Call 802-229-9383 with questions, or visit www.cvswmd.org for a complete list of what to bring to the ARCC. There is a fee of $1.00 per carload for each drop-off.
Cassandra Hemenway is the Zero Waste Outreach Coordinator for the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District.
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