Recycling Dilemma #1004 – To bag or not to bag

Free your recyclables!

Free your recyclables blog post

To bag or not to bag your recyclables? The answer is simple. Leave them loose! Plastic bags, film and flexible packaging are not accepted in our curbside carts. In fact, they’re the number one contaminant of our curbside recycling. If residents stopped bagging their recyclables our community would cut contamination by 50%. The value of recyclables is directly tied to how clean, or uncontaminated, they are. The success of the recycling industry is dependent on finding buyers for clean, quality recyclable materials.

Why aren’t bags allowed in our program?

In The Woodlands, we enjoy the convenience of a single stream recycling program in which all acceptable materials are deposited in one cart. However, the recyclables – plastic containers and bottles #1-5 & 7, cartons, cardboard, paper, aluminum cans and glass containers – must be sorted once they reach the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

During the initial stages of sorting, loose plastic bags and film are separated from the rest of the materials by hand. This takes a great deal of effort, and much of it slips by, wrapping around machinery and damaging equipment further down the line. MRFs have to shut down the processing line several times a day to remove plastic film entangled in the machines. This takes up valuable time and increases costs. It also creates unsafe working conditions for the individuals that must crawl into the machines to remove the film. Check out this video to see the effects of plastic bags on MRF equipment.

The problem with bagging recyclables

When we bag our recyclables we cause a different problem – workers at the MRF can’t tell if the material inside is trash or recycling – and so the entire bag is often sent to the landfill and all those good recyclables go to waste.

Although plastic bags and films do not belong in our curbside carts they are recyclable and quite valuable. So gather up all forms of plastic film in your house and take it your local grocery store – almost every store has a receptacle at the front. The bags and film are bailed, sold and eventually turned into composite lumber for making decks, benches, and playground sets. Plastic film can also be reprocessed into small pellets, which are turned into new bags, pallets, containers, crates, and pipe.

So let loose and free those recyclables!

Check out our website for more information about recycling and curbside services in The Woodlands.

Start saving batteries for the Village Recycling Challenge!

3R Bazaar 2019: Reduce, Recharge, Recycle

Save your batteries - 3r bazaar blog

Power to the world’s most convenient, portable energy source: the battery. They come in all shapes and sizes and we couldn’t live without them. But their convenience comes at a cost. Did you know that batteries make up almost 20% of all household hazardous materials sent to landfills? This presents a problem as the elements a battery uses to create power – mercury, lead, cadmium, or nickel – leach out when the battery inevitably breaks down inside the landfill, potentially contaminating the surrounding water table.

Recycling batteries protects our water supply by keeping heavy metals at bay, while simultaneously saving resources.

Batteries – like numerous items – are recyclable, but not accepted at the sorting facility where our residential recycling ends up. To empower residents to recycle beyond our curbside carts, The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department has selected alkaline AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V Batteries for the annual Village Recycling Challenge held at the 3R Bazaar on Saturday, November 9, 8 a.m. to noon at The Woodlands Farmer’s Market.

If you don’t already have a stash of used batteries start saving them now! The village that collects the most will receive a donation to its scholarship fund from The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N.. Encourage neighbors, friends and family to save their batteries too. You can further support your village by helping collect and weigh incoming batteries  at 3R Bazaar; if you are interested in volunteering contact Environmental Services at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov.

 Can’t make it to 3R Bazaar? That’s ok! The Precinct 3 Recycling Center (1122 Pruitt Road in Spring) and Batteries Plus accept alkaline and rechargeable batteries all year. For a comprehensive list of where to take other oddities such as Styrofoam, electronics, lightbulbs, paints, pharmaceuticals, and more check out the Recycle More Guide.

Reduce by buying rechargeable! Rechargeable batteries cost more up front, but each rechargeable battery saves money in the long run, substituting for hundreds of single-use batteries. Rechargeables can also be recycled when they’ve outlived their usefulness, preventing unnecessary landfill usage and toxicity to the environment.

For more information about other items collected at the 3R Bazaar, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/3rbazaar.

Give new life to old stuff

The “ooo’s” and “ahhh’s” from unwrapping gifts are over. Now it’s time to make room for your new electronics, toys and all those great socks your Aunt gave you. In your excitement to remove the old and put up the new, throwing away your old items may first come to mind. Instead, consider donating them to a local charitable organization. Although an item may have outlived its usefulness for you, it could still be useful to someone else before wasting away in a landfill.

Donate usable items graphic

Donate

Give a second life to your clean, gently-used clothing, housewares, toys, furniture and appliances by donating them to local charitable organizations. Items should be in good, usable condition. Check out The Woodlands Donation Guide for a list of local organizations accepting donations. Some organizations are able to pick up items or offer convenient drop-off locations. If you have an item that is not specified in the guide, call first to assure it is accepted.

Donate More Guide December 2018

Recycle

Not all items are suitable for donation. Sometimes clothing and housewares are past the point of repair such as stained rags, threadbare linens, ripped clothing, worn out shoes, etc. These items shouldn’t be donated as they can’t be used by the organization and end up being thrown away. If you have overly worn items such as these and are a resident of The Woodlands with curbside trash service, you may recycle these items through the Simple Recycling Program. Simply put unusable textiles in the designated orange bag and put them beside your carts for collection on your designated service day.

simple recycling bags

For items that can’t be donated, but can be recycled, consult the Recycle More Guide. Here you’ll find all local recycling opportunities for items such as electronics, paints, batteries, appliances, household chemicals, plastic bags and film, Styrofoam and more. Please note that these items can be recycled through these special collections, not the yellow lid curbside carts.

To learn more about recycling, visit the  Recycling page on the Township website.

 

The power of numbers

What do you get when a bunch of Woodlands residents join forces with 3R Bazaar and recycle? Tons of fun. And TONS of material for recycling, diverting it from landfills. Over six and a half tons, to be precise.

Over 13,358 pounds of recyclable items were collected at the 2018 3R Bazaar last month.

Over 800 Woodlands residents braved the chilly weather to reduce, reuse, and recycle at this year’s 3R Bazaar on November 10th, 2018. A big, warm “Thanks!” goes out to  everyone who attended this event at its new location, The Woodlands Farmer’s Market. Attendance and participation this year was record-breaking!

Lorax and drums

Let Them Drum joined forces with Waste Management and The Lorax to sound off for recycling.

And another huge “Thanks!” goes out to the team of volunteers who helped empower visitors with knowledge and tips for recycling successfully in our community.

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department would also like to thank  the generosity of its sponsors: Waste Management, Gullo Dealerships, Southern Shred and WJPA.

Take a look at what was collected:

3R Bazaar Collection graphic

In addition to this, $1,226.21 and 551 pounds of canned food items were collected for the Interfaith Food Pantry.

The Village Challenge battery collection resulted in a total of  $4,600 donated to the Villages’ scholarship funds by The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. through the generosity of HEB, WJPA and Woodlands Development Company.

3R bags

Reusable bags are a shopping essential. Remember to bring your own when you shop.

A tip for the new year…

By properly disposing of and keeping batteries out of the landfill, we prevent toxins from leaching into the surrounding water table. Consider investing in rechargeable batteries. They may cost more initially, but each rechargeable battery can substitute for hundreds of single-use batteries. Rechargeables can also be recycled when they’ve outlived their usefulness, preventing unnecessary landfill usage and toxicity to the environment.

Didn’t make it to 3R Bazaar? That’s ok! The Precinct 3 Recycling Center (1122 Pruitt Road in Spring), Home Depot, Lowes, Batteries Plus, Best Buy, and some Walmarts accept batteries all year. Call ahead for specifics and possible fees.

 

Megan Atom and Taylor

Festival mascots reminded the crowd to recycle cans, minimize use of single-use shopping bags, and keep plastic wrap and tanglers out of the recycle bin. Instead, recycle them at your grocery store along with plastic bags.

For a comprehensive list of local recycling opportunities of other oddities such as electronics, light bulbs, paints, pharmaceuticals, and more check out the Recycle More Guide.