Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Today's Recycling Program at League of Women Voters Wichita Falls

I mentioned earlier this month that Dave Lehfeldt, Sanitation Superintendent for the City of Wichita Falls, would be the speaker today for the League of Women Voters, talking about recycling.

As always, Dave gave an informative and interesting presentation. I wanted to share some of the information I gleaned from the presentation (if I make any mistakes, hopefully, someone will correct me.)

I think most citizens of Wichita Falls know the highlight of the city recycling efforts is the composting program. Potentially, this program could capture as much as 66% of the city's solid waste as any compostable material can be placed in the green compost bins. The primary detractor from the program is participation. Of the 33,000 accounts on the city trash routes, only 9,000 participate in the composting program.
  • It costs the city $5/month to pick up the compost bins--they charge $3/month. When the $3 fee went into effect, 1800 accounts eliminated the green carts--most were accounts that weren't using them.
  • The landfill takes in 160 - 170 tons of trash monthly; 20 - 25 tons enters the composting program (just think how much less trash would enter the landfill if everyone maximized us of the bins.)
  • Contamination of compost bins with non-compostable materials still occurs, but is less than in the past. Some of the confusion is due to people calling the bins "recycle bins" and thinking they can put anything recyclable in the bin.

Why doesn't Wichita Falls recycle plastic? Basically, because it isn't economically feasible at this time. The two biggest types of recyclable plastic (#1 and #2) constitute about 2% of the waste in Wichita Falls. Capturing a significant amount would be unlikely (look at the results for the compost program.) It costs $300 to take a load of any recyclable material to the metroplex and they cannot get nearly $300 from selling the product. If there was a local market for the material, it would be look a relook. Currently, Walmart takes plastic for recycle--they can make money on it because they would be sending the trucks back empty, so any money they make on the plastic offsets the expense.

There is no city recycling on computer equipment. However, on the city website there is information on how to participate in the mandatory recycling offered by various computer manufacturers.

A couple of announcements that are exciting:

  • The city will be providing compost bins for the Hotter 'n Hell this year.
  • Business composting pick up is now available, but only for those with dumpsters, not curbside bins.

As a reminder, the League of Women Voters of Wichita Falls, in conjunction with the Red River Sierra Group, publishes a brochure on recycling opportunities in Wichita Falls. The brochure is due for another update, but is still accurate.

As far as plastic goes, I suggest we "just say no." Although it is impossible to get by without some plastics (I try), I have been fairly successful at eliminating plastics by choosing not to buy items in plastic whenever possible. I do occasionally purchase drinks in a plastic bottle if I am desperate and other options aren't available. A suggestion is to purchase a sturdy water bottle and fill it from the tap--we have good water in Wichita Falls.

Overall the audience learned new things about recycling. If we all concentrate on putting as much as possible into the compost bins, we can divert much of the city's waste stream into compost.

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