Your Green Life: "Do's and Don'ts of Recycling"

By KBJR News 1

May 8, 2014 Updated May 8, 2014 at 9:30 AM CDT

Duluth, MN
Hartel's DBJ has been handling waste and recycling for the local area for decades. But a couple years ago, they changed the way people recycle.

Greg Hartel, a Partner at Hartel DBJ, told me, "We decided we would do collection in what's called single stream, which is kind of a fancy way of saying you can mix everything together."

This convenience of no sorting recycling lead to their customers recycling more! However, there are do's and don'ts in the recycling world, some are even hazardous.

"Anytime there's syringes or needles or what not that are mixed in with the recycling, that presents a safety problem for our sorters." says Hartel.

Medical waste should NEVER be disposed of in recycling or ordinary trash bins. Another misconception with recycling stems from a manmade invasive.

Hartel explains, "The most problematic item that we see in the recycling is plastic bags. So when they come in to the center we basically have to pull them out of the recycling and they get put into the trash."

Stores will take those unwanted plastic bags and send them to a facility that can handle the recycling process of plastic bags. Another common recycling question has to do with metals and glass.

Hartel tells me, "One of the things that we would like to see happen is that food and beverage containers get rinsed out before they're put in the recycling."

Materials that are not rinsed will be thrown into the trash, which is not what a good recycler wants to happen either.

"Recycling facilities aren't looking for all metals, mostly just food and beverage containers. Metals like this," I say, "you're going to have to deal with by bringing them to a scrap yard."

"We end up seeing an awful lot of just plain metal product in there, be it scrap metal, pots and pans, things like that."

Last year, Hartel's DBJ processed and shipped just about 11–thousand tons of recyclable material, that equates to about 22–million pounds.

Adam Lorch
Meteorologist/Reporter

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