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Conserve, steward, and advocate for the unique rural landscape of the Eastern Shore.

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Bailey steps up recycling efforts at Eastern Shore Conservation Center

The following email, sent to all tenants of the Eastern Shore Conservation Center from ESLC’s Facilities & Administrative Manager Owen Bailey, outlines the efforts made by ESLC (led by Bailey) in making the Center a zero-waste facility. We’re sharing it here for others to read, as perhaps it will prove useful to you as well:)

“Over the weekend I listened to a podcast on recycling from Stuff You Should Know. It reinforced our efforts on recycling as they argued Single Stream Recycling is too inefficient since too much of the materials are contaminated with food or items people hope can be recycled but can’t. When a recycling company receives a container full of too many contaminates, they throw the whole bin out, regardless of what recyclables are in there. The episode went further into what can(not) be recycled and why. I wanted to use this as an opportunity update you all on our Zero Waste efforts.

recycling binsThe good news is we have been recycling a lot more materials than before. Battery recycling and CFL bulbs are going well. We are recycling more plastic with the #6 plastic cups and #5 plastic yogurt containers. That said, there are a lot of materials that end up in the recycling bins that I end up throwing away. Below are the most common items that do not get recycled.

Sprout containers: The green containers can be cleaned and given back to Eat Sprout who will reuse them. The other containers (oatmeal bowls and brownies) are compostable and should go in the trash.

Straws: We can’t recycle straws (material is too cheap to spend money on recycling). I would encourage everyone to not use plastic straws or use paper/reusable straws made from metal. Recently Seattle banned straws and I predict (and hope) more states and cities will follow.

Paper coffee cups: These cannot be recycled at all. They are lined with either wax or plastic and the process to separate from paper is too costly and requires too much energy.

Pizza (or other food) boxes: Paper/cardboard with grease cannot be recycled. The grease is considered a contaminate and again it’s too costly to separate. You can cut out the contaminated portions (bottom) and recycled the clean parts. Otherwise it gets tossed.

Dirty containers: This is the biggest issue in the building. All containers must be cleaned. Recycling companies won’t take them because they do not have the time or money to clean them. I also don’t have the time to clean them, so they get tossed in the trash. Please clean and rinse all containers before recycling them.

We are working on a better and more permanent signage for the recycling area to explain some of this. Part of the sign will explain it is better to reduce and reuse before we recycle.

Until then, thank you for all your efforts and keep up the good work.”

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