Lane County recycling restarts

Did you hear? Lane County is once again accepting some plastics and cardboard for recycling. Of course you heard. You are a newspaper reader. But did your neighbors hear? Did they notice before, when the limits were put in place? If they don’t read a newspaper, they probably don’t notice the flyers that come with their garbage bill.

Not all plastics are accepted. This will sound like good news to you, but maybe not to those neighbors – there’s more reading to do. Only plastics labeled #1 or #2 are allowed. Typically, that means food containers and lots of cleaning supplies, but you’ll have to be careful.

You have to be careful for two reasons. Carriers will not continue to take plastics if they cannot be sorted efficiently. Their machines have limits. No plastic bottle caps. No can lids. Anything smaller than a tennis ball could jam their sorting machines.

We must also please China. They stopped accepting plastics when contamination rates increased. We should take this as a test, because that is exactly what it is.

You’ll separate plastics that can avoid landfill, but can you do more? Yes you can! Here are two suggestions to make our recycling more sustainable. (Did you see what I did there?)

First, talk to your neighbors. Do not ask them directly about how they manage their waste, it would be too intimate. Instead, keep things light and casual. Neighbors will always tolerate chatter, even if it’s a tall order.

“Hey Bob! Did you know that my liquid hand soap and dish detergent are number 1, but my laundry detergent and fabric softener are number 2? That’s okay – 1s and 2s are now allowed in recycling bins, thank goodness! By the way, your hedge looks great!”

Here is a simpler one. Make a small request to your favorite pizzeria. Pizza boxes are accepted for recycling again, but remember this is a test. Pizza boxes were previously banned because pizza grease clogged the cardboard.

Recyclers can now tolerate a little more grease because the volume of cardboard has increased significantly, thanks to Amazon and other nearby shippers. It gave us an opening and we should take it. We know how to keep pizza boxes nearly grease free for about a penny.

Waxed paper pizza box liners cost about that, but many pizza places don’t use them. For a literal penny, more pizza boxes could stay in virgin cardboard throughout their life cycle. We can achieve this.

If your favorite pizzeria has a comment card, fill one out and make this request. (If they’re already using them, thank them.) If a survey is mentioned on your receipt, do the same. If you’re waiting for your pizza and you see a manager, ask for it. Ask your neighbor who loves hedges to do the same. If it becomes a pattern, they will notice.

We don’t need government regulations or Chinese restrictions to deal with our pizza box grease problem. We can handle that one ourselves, if we just try.

Don Kahle ([email protected]) writes a column every Wednesday and Sunday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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