Facts point to benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling

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With the county’s recycling bills due last Saturday, many of us turned our thoughts to empty bottles and old newspapers as we wrote our checks to the Perry County Recycling Management District. Some of us paid the bill without hesitation, some of us grumbled as we stamped the envelope and dropped it into the mail. A few of us may not have paid it at all.

However we feel about recycling and the annual $32 fee, all property owners, residential or commercial, in the county that generate trash are required to foot the bill.

At the News, we support recycling and services that make it more convenient to reduce our trash and reuse materials. In 1990, Indiana legislature, under the threat of a near future without available landfill space, mandated each county have a solid-waste district that collects recyclables.

According to Kenneth Smith, director for PCRMD, each county decides on how to fund its solid waste district. Many include fees on property tax bills. Perry County opted for the $32 annual flat fee. These funds then pay for staffing the district office, operating and maintaining two county drop-off sites and providing community education on reducing, reusing and recycling.

On our end, we can make the decision to either drop that empty Coke bottle into the trash or into a recycling bin. We can discard our junk mail and old newspapers or, just as easily, toss them into the recycling. Each decision makes a difference, and the statistics prove it.

A few years ago, The Onion, a satirical weekly newspaper based in Madison, Wisc. ran a tongue-in-cheek story titled, “How Bad For The Environment Can Throwing Away One Plastic Bottle Be? 30 Million People Wonder.” But beneath the mockery was a more serious sentiment: Americans produce a lot of trash, and a lot of that trash can be recycled and reused. Individually, it may not seem like much, but collectively, it adds up.

According to Recycling at Work, a voluntary initiative of Alcoa, Keep America Beautiful and Microsoft, the amount of energy saved from just recycling aluminum cans in 2011 is equal to the energy equivalent of 23 million barrels of oil, or nearly three days of all U.S. oil imports. In the same year, Americans threw away 8.3 million tons of glass, enough to fill tractor-trailers stretched from New York to Los Angeles and back. We threw out $3.2 million worth of plastics, enough for 10,000 households to live on the median income for seven years.

Perry County is off to a pretty good start. In 2013, PCRMD collected more than 650 tons of recyclable materials, or 1 million 300 thousand pounds. Of that, 28 tons were plastic. That's a lot of plastic, considering an empty 20 oz. Coke bottle weighs about 7 ounces. Newspaper made up nearly 96 tons of the total pie. Cardboard? Just shy of 400 tons.

We can and should be filtering recyclable materials from our trash. If you already recycle, that's great. Keep up the good work. If you've been meaning to but just haven't gotten into the habit, now is a great time to start. If you don't, we ask you to give it a try. Start with just one week. See what a difference it makes in the amount of trash you set out. Those tags you buy for marking bags will stretch further, which means extra dollars in your pocket. That can really add up over the course of one year. It may even save $32 or more.

Local recycling information

PCRMD accepts the following items free of charge at both locations:

  • Paper products, including newspaper, cardboard, office paper, magazines and catalogs, hardback and softback books. Books and magazines, if in reasonably good condition, can also be donated to the local libraries, that in turn can add them to their fundraising booksales.
  • Plastic products, such as milk jugs, soda bottles, detergent containers and food containers. All No.1 and No. 2 plastics are accepted. The numbers are listed on the bottom of the item.
  • steel and aluminum cans
  • clear and colored glass jars and bottles (for Tell City pickup, clear glass only)
  • used motor oil, oil filters and antifreeze
  • household batteries
  • mercury items such as thermometers, batteries and fluorescent bulbs

The Cannelton site also accepts, free of charge, the following household hazardous waste: paint and paint thinner (dried by adding cat litter or sand to the liquid), insecticides and herbicides, poisons, aerosols, cleaning products, pool and household chemicals and garage-workshop products.

The Cannelton drop-off site at 508 North Second and Herzeele streets, is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Phone is 547-9787.

The Branchville site at Old Highway 37 and County Road 40 is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Phone is 843-4555.

Household hazardous waste can be dropped off at the Cannelton facility from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For residents within Tell City and Troy curbside pickup areas, recycling is even more convenient. Bins are provided, or customers may use any sturdy collection container. Tell City recyclables are picked up biweekly and collection dates are listed in the Perry County News. The next collection date after today's pickup is March 31.Troy residents within the curbside pickup area should have their recyclables out by 7 a.m. the first and third Mondays of the month. Items collected include newspapers, steel and aluminum cans, plastic containers and cardboard, magazines and office paper.

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