New, simplified Midvale recycling guidelines aim to lessen contamination
Nov 25, 2019 10:08AM
By Sarah Morton Taggart
Midvale has restricted the types of items allowed in recycling bins so that fewer contaminated loads will be sent to the landfill. (Sarah Morton Taggart/City Journals)
By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]
You carefully empty, rinse and collect every bottle, can and box that you use. You place them in a blue bin that you move to the curb every other week. But if you live in Midvale, odds are that the contents of your bin are going straight to the landfill. More than 55% of the collected recyclable materials are contaminated and will not be accepted by recycling facilities.
In an effort to reduce contaminated loads, Midvale has simplified the guidelines for what can be recycled. “Well-intentioned people are still contaminating,” said Laura Magness, communications director for Midvale City. “So if we bring it to three items, it’s easier for residents to remember what goes in the bin.”
Residents are being asked to put only the following items in their curbside bin: corrugated cardboard, plastic bottles and jugs with necks, and metal and aluminum cans. All cardboard boxes should be flattened with any plastic or bubble wrap removed. Plastic water bottles and milk jugs should be rinsed and the caps replaced. Most plastic — even items with the recycle symbol — should not be placed in the blue bins.
The contents of curbside bins are transported to a local materials recovery facility to be sorted. The most common contaminants are food, liquids and plastic bags. If just one blue bin from your neighborhood is contaminated, that entire truck load could be sent straight to the Trans-Jordan Landfill. That means a load of materials that won’t be recycled. It also means more miles driven by the waste disposal truck, which adds to air pollution in the valley.
The new policy will hopefully result in better recycling rates and save money as well. “(The board) put it out to us how many trucks for recycling are returning to the landfill. That is creating more truck trips and is more expensive for cities,” Magness said. It currently costs Midvale $50 per ton to recycle when it should cost $16 per ton.
The landfill is overseen by a board that includes representatives from West Jordan, Draper, Murray City, Riverton City, South Jordan and Sandy. Kane Loader, city manager of Midvale, is chairman of the board. West Jordan, Riverton and Sandy have not adopted new guidelines. Murray officials said it will continue to accept junk mail, newspapers, office paper, wrapping paper, softcover books, magazines, shoe boxes food boxes and more in its recycling. They added the Trans-Jordan Landfill distributed its flyer without Murray’s approval.
Flyers describing the big three categories of items to be recycled were first distributed around the end of October. “We don’t expect people to pull things out of their bins, but (follow the guidelines) moving forward,” Magness said. “If we only recycle these items, they’re more likely to be recycled. If we work together we can make a positive impact.”
The change in what can be recycled has become a lively topic of discussion in the Midvale residents’ Facebook group. One resident declared that she will no longer bother to recycle. Another is disappointed that it will take her household a month to fill one bin with the acceptable items.
Others welcome the new guidelines.
“I find this makes recycling easier,” Susan Holbrook Chadwick said. “The Midvale Journal has an ad that you can cut out and put it by your inside garbage cans to remind you of the change. This is a change in recycling everywhere, not just here.”
Paper can still be recycled, but is problematic when all recyclables are collected in a single load. Newspaper can get wet when mixed with bottles and cans, and wet paper is not accepted by recycling facilities.
“I just feel terribly guilty putting any paper in the garbage,” Candice Erickson said. “I think paper, like newspaper, was the first thing I ever recycled, so there’s nostalgia. Now it’s another trip to do the right thing.”
There are three separate paper recycling drop-off locations in Midvale: Copperview Elementary (8449 S. Monroe St.), Midvalley Elementary (217 E. 7800 South) and Saint James Church (7486 Union Park Ave.). Items that can be placed in these bins include newspaper, magazines, junk mail, cereal boxes, office paper, cardboard and brown paper bags.
There are plans to add an additional paper recycling bin at Midvale City Hall.
Glass had not been accepted in the blue bins, even before the new rules. There is a drop-off bin for glass in the parking lot south of the Boys & Girls Club in Midvale City Park. More information about where different materials can be dropped off for recycling can be found on the Trans-Jordan website: transjordan.org/recycle/recycling-faq/
“I’ve been impressed with how informed and educated Midvale residents are about changes in China and the recycling industry,” Magness said. “I’m happy that people understand the total ramifications and the positive impact we’re making. We knew it would be challenging to get the word out, but it’s the right thing to do to be good stewards for the environment.”