Absurd Recycling

Recycle CardboardThis is something that really got into my crawl yesterday evening and has been bugging the crap out of me ever since then. Every time I think about it just makes me almost mad all over again. Let me set the stage. Living where I do, we have a recycling program. Actually a very good one. They have recently been running an ad campaign, which i have seen just once about not using the cardboard box as a refuse container. This is especially emphasized by the cardboard getting wet and breaking open or dogs roaming and getting into the refuse. But instead of having those problems the ad suggest to fold the cardboard flat and put it beside the recycling herby at the curb.

Yes, there are three herbies provided. One for recyclable materials, one for regular trash, which should be pretty light most weeks given the different things that are now recycled, and a third for lawn debris, which is in turn itself made into mulch and such.

Back to the stage being set. All of the pickups occur on the same morning. And as some of you all know, I have been doing a great deal of exercising of late. One of those activities includes a usually brisk walk through the neighborhood with the roommate and Bitzer along.

So we are walking along and I, being always watchful for what might be a good find in the trash of another (you know, ones mans trash is another mans treasure), am keeping an eye on things as we go by. The great thing about herbies is that do keep the trash nicely contained, they are big enough for all but the largest of items to go in, they are very tough, but yet on wheels for ease of getting to the curb. The bad thing is, they are with a big lid, so in my garba… er, treasure hunt, I was not being very succesful – as I refuse to be open the lid as we walk by. That would be just a bit too much.

What I did notice however, was how effective the ad campaign regarding cardboard must be. It seemed as almost every third or fourth house had cardboard out by the curb. This was a good thing. However, then I saw the most horrid thing. Three, maybe four cardboard boxes, folded down flat and taped together. And I don’t mean just one small piece of scotch tap on the edges, or even two big strips of masking tape ran around it. No, this was done up in the clear plastic like packing tape. And who ever thought taping them up was a good idea must have thought they were shipping them. The massive amount to tape with around the boxes no less than four, maybe five times in the narrow direction and another three times in the long direction. It has additional pieces of tape a the corners to reinforce the tight hold that may have not been enough. Based on the size of the boxes and the number loops, I am guess it was easily 15 yards of the stuff. It gets worse, some of the strips of tape doubled back on themselves for nearly the entire flat served of the top fold box, increasing the total another few yards at least.

Now to put this in true perspective for you. The tape was not required. Matter of fact, the website for the municipal collection agency says flatten and lean against the recycling ‘Rosie’ lose or put in the ‘Rosie’ itself. Further, a small amount of tape would have been more than sufficient, and to use the plastic based tape in much quantity at all probably completely defeated any gain from that material being recycled, as the resources wasted in the tape used offset it. The best option would have been to not have taped and just left loose. But if it had to be bound, why not use jute string – which is a natural, biodegradable material that comes from a renewable source?