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Sustainable Happenings September 2011


Nuts and Bolts and #7 Plastics of Recycling in Moab
photographs and story by Joan Gough

While recycling has become accepted as part of life in the 21st century, many of us still think only in terms of dropping our plastic drink containers into the blue barrels or dropping off a load of bottles to the recycling center. Although huge (according to Sara Melnicoff, 8,000 aluminum and plastic drink containers were picked up from the Moab ball park in one season) this is only the tip of the iceberg, a 160-200 ton iceberg of garbage that ends up in the Klondike Landfill every week. What can you do to recycle as much of your trash as possible?

The first place you might look is to Bob’s Sanitation, the company that Moab City and Grand County contract with to pick up your curb-side garbage. That garbage is hauled to the transfer station on South Highway 191 where it is sorted. Aluminum, steel and corrugated cardboard are pulled from the waste. Bob’s Sanitation sells the aluminum and steel which may be rebirthed as new cans or engine parts in the case of aluminum and rebar or I-beams in the case of steel. The cardboard is taken to Canyonlands Community Recycling Center where it is baled and sold to Rocky Mountain Recycling in Salt Lake City (or whoever is buying at the time). The rest of your trash is then hauled to the Klondike Landfill which is operated by Grand County Solid Waste Management Special Service District No. 1.

Unless you are a pretty unusual consumer, that leaves most of your trash going to the landfill. You might next look to the Canyonlands Community Recycling Center (CCRC) at 1000 East Sand Flats Road. You can deliver your sorted waste to them between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. They take aluminum and steel cans, corrugated cardboard, glass (clear, green, and brown), newspaper, office paper, plastic (1-7) and clean styrofoam. The Recycling Center has been in operation since 1991 with the mission of “empowering the Moab Community to reduce, reuse and recycle.” On July 1, 2010, CCRC became part of the above mentioned Solid Waste District. In addition to their mission, CCRC now has the goal of diverting 15% of the community’s waste from landfills by 2015.

If you don’t want to deliver your own recyclables to CCRC, you can contract with Green Solutions, a local non-profit company, to pick up your recyclables once a week. They provide you with a bin, sort your recyclables and deliver them to CCRC for $10.00 a month. Anything that is accepted by CCRC will be picked up by Green Solutions. Owned and operated by Chad Neihaus and Collin Topper (259-1088), their business may be your solution whether you are a commercial or residential customer.

Now, you’ve taken a big chunk out of your contribution to the landfill. To go one step further, on the third Saturday of the month from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can recycle card stock, non-corrugated cardboard, magazines and catalogs in the post office parking lot. A family-owned company from Provo picks up paper waste and shreds it for insulation. There shouldn’t be any food in the cereal boxes, etc. for obvious reasons.

Your clothes, household appliances, furniture, games, books, sporting goods, construction materials, almost anything with life left in it can be taken to one of the Wabi Sabi Thrift Stores. The Triftique at 411 Locust Lane takes collectibles, sporting goods, clothing, accessories and books from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p,m, while the Warehouse at 1030 Bowling Alley Lane accepts building materials, furniture, adult and children’s clothing, toys, work clothes, electronics and books from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Wabi Sabi is more than your typical thrift shop. It is a distributor for many reusable products. For example, the Lions Club has long collected glasses, which when fitted with new lenses, can give sight to a needy child or adult. Taking the glasses to Wabi Sabi is probably a lot easier than tracking down a Lion’s Club member and yet, the glasses end up in the same place. They pass on towels to the Human Society of Moab to line dog and cat crates and cages. Clothing not sold in Moab may end up in homeless shelters in Salt Lake City and Denver. Printer cartridges are picked up by Kerry Lange of Desert West Office Supply for refilling. Even electronics will be reused or recycled as much as possible.

If you should end up with a dead car on your lot, you can call Ivan’s Auto Recycling at 259-8506. David Hawks, owner of the facility on South Highway 191, will pick up your clunker for free and recycle it properly. He is licensed to dismantle the cars and crush them after pulling mercury switches and batteries. It is critical to recycle the mercury from the switches rather than let it get air bourn when the rest of the metal is crushed and melted down. He recycles 125 tons of metal a month. He also separates out aluminum, which he says takes six times more energy to produce than steel and one sixth the energy to recycle. David pays per ton for ferris metals like steel and iron and per pound for non-ferris such as copper, brass, and aluminum.

Since I moved here in 1975 two traditions have flourished in Moab--pot luck’s and yard sales. What is a yard sale, if not a recycling center? It changes locations, but it is a great way to give your trash a chance to be someone else’s treasure.

Finally, you have mown the lawn, clipped back the hedge and weeded the garden. The obvious way to recycle these materials, plus kitchen scraps, is to compost them. For Moabites there isn’t any choice but to do your own composting. Fortunately, it is easy and rewarding, and a good topic for next month’s article on sustainable living.

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