ROCKLAND ROCKS AT RECYCLING: Where do your recyclables go?

Part II in a multi-part series

BY KERRI SCALES

Rockland Solid Waste

unnamed2 unnamed3 unnamed4This is the second installment of a multi-part series about waste disposal and recycling in Rockland County. Last time we highlighted the high costs associated with waste disposal and how our trash travels over 300 miles after it is collected at the curb, for disposal in landfills.

So let’s talk about what happens to your recyclables after they are collected. Instead of sending them to a landfill where they would be buried, forever, recyclable items should be viewed as a commodity. Paper, plastic, metal, and other materials have a value, which allows us to market them to companies that want to process them back into new products and packaging.

Energy and resources are consumed when making products from our natural resources. By recycling we can save these resources. For example, turning raw bauxite ore into an aluminum can takes twenty times more energy than recycling an old can. If this can were to end up in a landfill, it would take hundreds of years to biodegrade, if at all – wasting natural resources and creating a detrimental impact on the environment.

All of the recyclable materials generated in Rockland County are delivered to the Authority’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Hillburn so they can be sorted by type, baled into cubes, and then transported to remanufacturing companies. The revenue generated by the sale of the material is shared with municipalities via a $35 per ton rebate. When compared to a $76 per ton fee for trash, we should be recycling as much of our waste as possible.

The Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority is dedicated to educating the community about available programs and services. So much so, that they constructed an interactive Environmental Education Center at the MRF, so the public can see what happens with their recyclables. Schools and other groups can tour the facility for free. Tours are conducted by an Educator, who is also available for presentations at schools, libraries and other community events. If you are a business that needs help developing an effective recycling program, the Authority also has a Recycling Coordinator who can visit your site to provide recommendations and resources.

Recycling is a very important part of a community’s comprehensive waste program, which is why Rockland County has two laws dedicated to keeping recyclable materials out of landfills. The Source Separation Ordinance and Flow Control Law combined, specify that all waste generated in Rockland must be separated and disposed of appropriately. Waste is an economic and environmental issue that all citizens should be paying close attention to.

How can you help? Always remember to REDUCE your footprint by creating as little waste as possible, REUSE items when you can, RECYCLE unusable products and packaging, and RETHINK your choices. So before you throw out that aluminum can, plastic bottle, cardboard box or a host of other items, remember that your community can make money or spend money to manage them.

This series is intended to educate the public about available services and the economic benefits that go along with it. Next week’s edition will focus on Rockland’s composting programs. For more information you can visit the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority’s website at www.rocklandrecycles.com.