Last April first, just as the pandemic hit us with full force, changes in the City of Battle Creek’s recycling program went into effect.   Instead of putting recyclables on the curb weekly, it became every-other-week.  The city did this to try and keep Waste Management rates the same, preserve a recycling program, and still keep regular trash pickup every week.   The change was estimated to save the city $159,000 per year.   Well, that savings is going to be less now, and indirectly a result of the pandemic.

The need to save money came about as a result of a change in policy in China.   The bottom line is that after 25 years of doing things one way,  China got a lot pickier about what they’ll take and if China won’t take it, neither will Waste Management.  China will accept loads of recyclables with no more than one half of one percent contamination.  Some loads from the City of Battle Creek being rejected by Waste Management are as high as 30 percent.  Those are being rejected at Waste Management’s Holland processing plant and that material is ending up in a landfill and costing the city about $1,600 a truckload.  City of Battle Creek Environmental and Storm Service Manager Patty Hoch-Melluish says they’ve only had to divert a couple of loads from the Holland plant to the landfill, but she says they are also temporarily sending recyclables from certain areas of the city directly to the landfill, for now, due to high percentages of contamination.

Hoch-Melluish says the big storms and power outages may have resulted in the wrong materials being put in bags and placed in recycling bins.  She says the main thing is educating people to be better recyclers.   She says the pandemic and resulting city furloughs and other factors have slowed down their efforts to get the word out, but they are having meetings with Waste Management this week and will be rolling out more educational programs soon.   They’ve already got a mailing ready to go out with this month’s billing, and have done store displays and radio commercials.

She says main thing to remember is to keep things clean and dry, with no food or garbage and very little water.   “When in doubt, throw it out.”

Here are a few things you may not have already known about recycling:

  • Laundry detergent bottles should be rinsed out and drained and then re-capped..
  • Pizza boxes shouldn’t have crusts or leftover food in them.
  • Shredded paper is a no-no, but regular clean paper and cardboard are ok.
  • Items in plastic bags is a BIG problem. Same for wet and rotting boxes.  Don’t!
  • Plastics with the recycle number from 1-7 are ok, as long as they’re clean and dry.
  • Cans that held food are ok, (again clean and dry), but not paint cans of any kind.

For a list of do’s and don’t, check out this Waste Management internet site.

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