Rockland Rocks at Recycling! Reuse of non-traditional materials

Fifth and final installment in multi-part series

BY KERRI SCALES

Rockland Solid Waste

ed ed2We’ve all heard the mantra…reduce, reuse, recycle and even rethink. But some “R’s” get more attention than others. Recycling is the more popular of terms, leaving reducing, reusing and rethinking, trailing behind in the shadows. Surprisingly, although recycling seems to be the more popular term, reusing can be just as important, if not more so.

Reusing simply means to use things more than once, often multiple times. Some products can be reused after doing some minimal processing. So although recycling can take our old products and make them back into something new, reusing often times requires much less energy, resources and time.

There are many common items that are reusable, such as clothing, cars, furniture and tableware. They are manufactured to be reusable because it would be impractical for many of these items to be “disposable,” at least in the short term. Many of us have become accustomed to products that are disposable, even though the same items exist in reusable form. Cloth towels can be used in place of paper towels and mugs or reusable travel cups can be used in place of plastic or paper drink cups. So why do people choose to use disposable plastic cutlery, paper plates or plastic drink cups? The answer is convenience.

Unfortunately for us, disposable products are responsible for unnecessarily filling up our landfills. There is plenty of waste being generated on a daily basis that can’t be recycled or reused and requires disposal in landfills. Landfill space should be reserved for waste that has no other option. This is why we have added “rethink” to our library of “R” terms. In today’s world we need to start rethinking about what we buy and toss into the trash.

The Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority has a network of facilities aimed at reusing and recycling much of our waste. When the economics of recycling glass became a negative market, the Authority purchased a glass pulverizing machine that crushes glass into a reusable aggregate. This crushed glass product can be used for many applications, most notably for drainage and pipe bedding projects. Each year the Authority manufactures approximately nine thousand tons of crushed glass product, mainly from the residential recycling program. The best part is the crushed glass product is available at no cost. For more information you can contact the Authority at 753-2200.

More recently the Authority started processing asphalt and concrete that was delivered for disposal, into usable aggregate materials. Discarded concrete is crushed into smaller pieces that can be used as sub-base for construction projects and asphalt is made into millings or RAP that can be used in road construction. These products, already approved for use by most towns can cost less than a third of quarry processed materials. For more sales information contact O’Sullivan Equipment at 359-8733.

New processes and technologies are being developed every day to provide better management of our waste materials. These processes are intended to conserve our resources, save landfill space and reduce costs. Often times they prove to be profitable. However, as consumers we still need to practice our “R’s”, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink.

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 more non-traditional items, such as concrete, asphalt and glass. For more information you can visit the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority’s website at www.rocklandrecycles.com.