To continue our conversation on where our trash goes, you might be surprised to learn where your recycling goes.
To start, Wilton practices single-stream recycling — a collection system that mixes all recyclable paper fibers and containers together. You can drop your recyclables off at the transfer station (vehicle sticker required) or have a town hauler do it for you. The next stop for recyclables is at the materials recovery facility where sorted and usable recyclables are bundled and set aside for a third party to purchase and use.
The sad reality is that most of our recycling ultimately ends up where our trash goes — the incinerator in Bridgeport and then the ash to Putnam. According to the EPA, 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it.
Why? There are many reasons including flaws with the actual process itself, lack of investment in handling systems and trash not meant for recycling cross contaminating the usable recyclables. Couple these challenges with the fact that an astonishing 91% of plastic does not get recycled nationwide*; that plastic sits in landfills piling up and taking hundreds of years to break down all the while further polluting our fragile environment.
The simple fact is plastic is too easy and economical to produce yielding way too much plastic for the planet to digest and way too little plastic that gets recycled.
Needless to say we have much more work to do at the local and national level however we can take the first step by starting to recycle the right way at home. Start by printing out the Recycle CT “What’s IN? What’s OUT?” flyer to see what’s in and what’s out of your recycling bin. For a quick visual reference, check out our display posters first unveiled at Wilton Chamber of Commerce Street Fair and Sidewalk Sale on July 24th.
We stumped many visitors who were surprised to learn that certain items like black plastic or those mile long receipts we get at retail stores are destined for trash instead of the recycling bin.
Recycling right also means cutting off our deep dependence on single-use plastic and considering more reusable items for many of our daily habits. Every bit counts in reducing the massive reliance we have on plastic and its massive impact on our environment.
Wilton Go Green is here to help. Although its August 1st you can always go back and visit our Plastic Free July page to learn about easy ways you can switch out single-use plastic with eco-friendly and reusable alternatives. Our page is filled with great tips, plastic free product resources and an opportunity to join the official “Plastic Free July Challenge”.
Talking Trash with Tammy is a continuing conversation on creating sustainable habits that we can simply and easily turn green. Collectively we can cultivate healthy spaces at home and in our community with an outsized impact for our environment.
Did you find this blog helpful? Share your comments below or connect with Tammy on green topics you would like her to address. Let’s talk trash!
EPA National Overview