Reduce, reuse, recycle right

Since January, Oregon’s trash haulers have become more aware of the high contamination levels in our citizens’ co-mingled recycling bins.

In Monmouth and Independence, the average level of contamination has been as high as 15 percent. Recyclables used to go to China to be sorted and turned into something new — but China has decided they won’t take our co-mingled things at such a high level of contamination.

The goal is 3 percent of 1 percent contamination.

To get there, we, as consumers, need to do a better job — a much better job — of recycling.

It used to be that people sorted all of their recyclables into bins — plastics, aluminum and tin cans, paper and cardboard. People who were dedicated to recycling washed everything out well, some even put containers in their dishwashers to make sure they were squeaky clean before putting them in the designated bin.

Some people are still dedicated to recycling to the point of ensuring everything goes in its place and is clean and dry before it goes there.

But some are not.

If you are the person who is not, by putting a dirty container in the recycling bin, you are contaminating everyone else’s recycling efforts. Dirty plastic mayonnaise containers or milk jugs aren’t recycling. These things have to go into the garbage, contributing to the landfill. And if it leaks onto otherwise clean recycling materials, now those things are contaminated — into the trash it goes.

If you don’t want to clean a container, put it in the trash in the first place.

If you want to recycle, wash, rinse and dry containers before putting it in the co-mingled bin.

We know our haulers of waste want us to be better at reusing, reducing and recycling.

Here at the Itemizer-Observer, we are making efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. We use a lot of paper, as one may imagine, but we are reducing that amount, going paperless where possible in the office, and keeping an eye how many issues of the paper we print. We donate extra copies of the paper to local schools when possible to reuse them and reduce waste.

We want you to pick up the paper feeling good that it is 100 percent recyclable (unless you wrap your fish with it), and know that we are doing our part as a local business and as members of the community to get better at recycling.

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