Green connections: Recycling in Las Cruces faces changes

Green connections: Recycling in Las Cruces faces changes

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By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
For the Bulletin

Myths can create a dense fog around truth. With China’s “National Sword” action, overnight the nation now refuses to accept low-quality and dirty recyclables. That’s turned recycling across the globe on its ear. The action forces everyone to clean up their recycling to produce quality material, and that results in fast-approaching recycling changes.
This is the time to remember why our city has chosen to be “green,” and time to bust some of the myths popping up in online conversations about the South Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA) and its recycling program:
The Profit Myth: Recycling makes money, why are we paying for this service?
SCSWA Recycling Coordinator Tarkeysha Burton stresses, “This is not a profit-making effort; it’s a citizen-driven environmental sustainability effort supported by elected officials that our community has deemed worthy.”
There are expenses associated with recycling – labor, equipment, trucks, fuel, cost of carts, overhead expenses – that far exceed the profit gained by selling recyclable materials.

Curbside recycling was launched in Las Cruces on Earth Day 2011 thanks to citizens who pushed hard to bring this sustainability effort to our city. Elected officials supported the effort, bringing it to reality.
Curbside recycling was launched in Las Cruces on Earth Day 2011 thanks to citizens who pushed hard to bring this sustainability effort to our city. Elected officials supported the effort, bringing it to reality.

When we don’t recycle, we:
1) destroy more land (through mining) to create more aluminum and steel,
2) destroy more forests to create more paper and cardboard,
3) siphon off more petroleum products to make more plastics.
The SCSWA negotiates and manages the best contracts possible to make convenient curbside recycling available in and around Las Cruces – if residents and businesses will choose to toss accepted recyclable items in the blue bin instead of the brown one.
The “It’s Just Me” Myth: What impact can I really make with my mandatory bin?
It’s not just you. We have a very high 70 percent participation rate in recycling in Las Cruces. Authorized by City Council in 2010, the recycling charge helps SCSWA fund the recycling program.
The demand for recycling reflects the values of the city, focusing on long-term environmental benefits and a thriving program that is considered a very positive “quality of life” component. The SCSWA strives to make sure through public education that you know we’re in this together in creating the future for our beautiful city.
The Lack of Demand Myth
Burton explains, “Oh there’s a definite U.S. demand for the ‘Fab 5’ – Plastics 1 & 2, corrugated cardboard, printer paper, aluminum & steel cans.” That’s why the SCSWA is asking Las Cruces recyclers to focus on these classic recyclables and is negotiating new contracts to get these items into the regional recycling stream. Other materials are NOT being banned; the SCSWA is asking that – for now – everyone continue to abide by the label guidelines on top of the blue curbside bins, as we try to develop new domestic markets.
As a final note, Burton urges, “Buying recycled content helps support domestic markets. Please remember to search out items with recycled content when you are shopping.”
Questions? We are here to serve you and want to hear your voice.
Green Connections is submitted by the South Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA), managing solid waste, recyclables, and working to stop illegal dumping for residents and businesses throughout Doña Ana County. Contact the SCSWA at 575-528-3800 or visit www.SCSWA.net.

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