Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

From the inbox: DC recycling edition

Posted by Evan Herrnstadt on October 7, 2008

I got an email this morning from my roommate informing me that DC is expanding its municipal single-stream recycling program to include, as another roommate put it, basically everything we were recently upset to learn couldn’t be recycled.  This means milk and juice cartons, plastic containers like yogurt cups, plastic bags (sweet), and aerosol cans.

Here’s a link to the Dept. of Public Works recycling page.  I’ve pasted the announcement below, which doesn’t yet seem to be on the DPW’s website:

Mayor Fenty Announces Expanded Recycling Program

Plastic Bags, Aerosol Cans, Wide Mouth Jars, and Plastic Toys Now Can be

Mayor Adrian Fenty announced that starting today Department of Public
Works recycling collection crews will accept an expanded list of items
for recycling, especially plastics. Now residents can recycle film
plastics like grocery, produce, and dry cleaning bags, as well as
aerosol cans and a variety of rigid plastic including plastic lawn
furniture, toys and flower pots.

“We are meeting District residents’ demand for increasing the types of
recyclables we collect,” said Mayor Fenty. “Washingtonians are deeply
committed to halting the damage being done to the environment and
recycling is a win-win program for the District and the environment.”

Mayor Fenty noted that District residents exceed national recycling
rates for newspapers, cardboard and plastic and glass bottles. He added
that there are opportunities to increase the overall recycling rate by
increasing the number of acceptable items and diverting more cardboard,
and steel and aluminum cans from the landfill to the recycling
processing center.

“Educating residents is vital to increasing the number of people who
recycle as well as increasing the volume of recyclables collected that
are converted into new products,” said Mayor Fenty.

DPW Director William O. Howland, Jr. said, “The value of potential
recyclables depends on the market available for the recovered materials
and, until recently, the market for these new items was scarce. Over
time, we have seen new and imaginative final products derived from
recycled materials. Clothing and kitchen countertops are among the
products made from recyclables and we take for granted that what we buy
contains some recycled content.”

“With this expanded list, most residents will probably find they fill
their bins or blue recycling carts more than their 32-gallon trash cans
or their Supercans,” Howland added.

Beginning October 6, residents can recycle:

* Aerosol cans

* Milk and juice cartons

* Plastic bags, e.g., grocery bags, newspaper bags,
shopping bags (Please “bag the bags” by placing all the bags into one

* Rigid plastics: plastic milk/soda crates, plastic
buckets with metal handles, plastic laundry baskets, plastic lawn
furniture, plastic totes, plastic drums, plastic coolers, plastic
flower pots, plastic drinking cups/glasses, plastic 5-gallon water
bottles, plastic pallets, plastic toys, and empty plastic
garbage/recycling bins

* Wide-mouth containers: peanut butter,
margarine/butter tubs, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise,
whipped topping, and prescription and other medicine bottles.

For a complete list of accepted recyclables and instructions, review a
copy of the new DPW Reference Guide, which is being mailed out to DPW
customers and distributed throughout the city, or visit <> . Residents
whose recyclables exceed their container(s) can put additional
recyclables in either a brown paper bag or a small cardboard box and
place them next to their recycling bin or cart. For an additional cart
or bin, residents may call 311.

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