The old saying that “a few bad apples will spoil the whole barrel” applies to local recycling. Gila County is poised to remove the last two paper and plastic recycling roll-off bins at Russell Gulch Landfill if careless people continue to contaminate loads of recyclables by thoughtlessly tossing household trash, diapers, clothes and other non-recyclable items into the big blue bins. Gila County Public Works has been a leader in local recycling for more than two decades, but was forced to remove all but those two final bins a year ago - and that’s about to end, too. “We still truly want to offer recycling as an option for local residents who are willing to bring their paper and acceptable plastics to the landfills in Globe and Payson,” said Public Works Landfill and Recycling Manager Kenny Keith. “And, for now, bins remain at each landfill - but the roll-offs will be removed by the second or third week of January if people don’t stop dumping garbage, cat litter and unrecyclable trash into the bins. Trash and unrecyclable items contaminate the entire load, consigning it to the landfill. It’s sad to say, but we have reached the point of installing video surveillance - and maybe even posting photos on social media.” What’s recyclable for now, while the bins remain in place? Newspaper, magazines, mixed paper and postal mail in the bin marked for paper (no cardboard, no pizza boxes, no books). Empty drink bottles and containers marked #1 and #2 in the bins for plastics. Yes, it’s that simple. Those are the only items Gila County can still recycle in bulk by trucking roll-offs to a Scottsdale recycling center that still accepts them.
“Most people who care enough to recycle know this: just because it’s made of plastic doesn’t mean it’s recyclable,” said Keith. “Our bin for plastics is specifically for drink and juice bottles, but we’re forced to landfill the entire roll-off when unacceptable items people dump include stuff like garden hoses, shower curtains, kids’ toys, kiddie pools and swing sets. None of those are recyclable, and tossing them into our bin pollutes the entire roll-off.”
Due to a lack of domestic markets for recycled products here in the U.S.A., recycling has more “don’ts” than “dos.”
For example: Don’t recycle plastic shopping bags in the plastic bin, and don’t dump bags with your recyclable plastic bottles or paper. If you haul bags filled with recyclables, empty the contents directly into the big blue bin and save your bag to use it again. Plastic bags are known as “tanglers” at the recycling center because they wrap around and damage equipment, endangering recycling center workers and shutting down entire recycling centers. Reuse plastic bags whenever possible; dispose of them along with regular household garbage when their time is up.
No drink cups with wax or plastic coatings
No cat litter
No polystyrene foam (such as ‘clamshell’ fast food take-out boxes)
No plastic wrap or film
No flexible packaging
No household items (shoes, clothes, appliances)
No garage waste
No medical waste