More recycling

June 12, 2007 at 2:16 pm 4 comments


A couple of days ago, Emily was worrying about whether the fact that her municipality collects all the recyclables in one bag means they are just landfilling them. As it turns out, that is quite a current and relevant question. The answer is, no, fortunately, they are indeed recycling it.

Just yesterday, Treehugger had a great post about a new recycling technology that optically separates materials like different types of plastic and paper. That means that they now can sort the recyclables automatically, where traditionally people were required.

I highly recommend reading the original article in the Economist. It is quite informative, for those of you who are still curious about recycling ‘magic’.

Anyway, the point is, with the new automated sorting, many recycling programs are switching from several recycling bins to a single bin. The main advantage of the switch is that the recycling rate tends to be much higher with a single bin. As an example, San Francisco, who switched to single bin a few years ago, now has a recycling rate of 69%. I don’t know if you realize, but 69% is huge! By comparison, the American average is 32%.

Also according to the Economist, the recycling rate here in the Netherlands stands at 60%. Not bad if you consider they don’t collect plastic from households. I do, however, think that there is plastic being collected and recycled from businesses and other large producers. I mean, there is a European Directive that makes it mandatory for them to recycle a certain amount of plastic.

So, my friends, if some time in the future your municipality asks you to put all your recyclables in one bag, worry not! It’s a good thing!

Oh and sorry, Treehugger, for ripping off the image from your post. It’s just so pretty and informative… I hope you can forgive me. I do it out of reverence to you.

Entry filed under: environment, paper, plastic, recycling, waste.

Reusable Bags (and bottles and mugs) Price perception and the organic (and local).

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ClareCat  |  June 14, 2007 at 7:45 am

    I have single bin recycling in my local government area and I’ve always thought it was a bit of a scam, perhaps I have to rethink my pessimism. In the past they’ve said people could vist the plant and see it in action. I’ve alwasy meant to, but haven’t yet. The Economist article has inspired me to think I really need to go and see it.

    And your original post about recycling was very informative.

    Cheers, Clare.

  • 2. everdaytrash  |  June 16, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Great compilation of articles and facts, thanks!

  • 3. A trio of garblogging finds « everydaytrash  |  June 20, 2007 at 5:58 am

    […] And the Closet Environmentalist looked into the truth behind recycling. […]

  • 4. Mary-LUE  |  July 1, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    Years ago, we took our son to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry while we were on vacation. They have this amazing lab for kids to do experiments. At the time, one of the experiments demonstrated this process. It was quite fascinating and educational. Our city has always done the recycling thing on their end and we’ve never had to put out different bins for different materials. Well, they do ask us to put lawn clippings, etc., in a marked container now.

    Here via Emily’s blog and new to hers also.

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June 2007

Proudly achieved

  • 121,369 eye rolls since March 2007

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