Did you know that the Teton County Solid Waste Department was recently approved to purchase new collection dumpsters for newspaper, mixed paper, #1 & #2 plastic separation? This really is great news and the county commissioners should be applauded for approving this much-needed amenity that solidifies our commitment to waste diversion in Teton County.
The purchase of these two new collection dumpsters will allow additional sorting of plastic and paper products. To remain financially viable, we will soon be separating newspaper from office paper and removing all other contaminating paper especially glossy magazines and catalogs, books, phone books, packing paper, and gray board. Plastic bottles will need to be separated into clean, clear #1 and #2 bottles in different collection bins to create bales of higher value and allow the county to afford the processing cost of recycling these materials.
There’s just one small glitch – the Transfer Station is unsure of when these new dumpsters will be delivered and put into service. Currently the facility is operating at maximum capacity, so there is no room to store bales of lower grade recyclables such as glossy magazines and catalogs. While there is a market for these items, without appropriate storage space, the county cannot continue to process and store these products.
So, for now, clearly labeled magazine and book collection bins have been placed near the recycling collection bins for self-haulers to the Transfer Station, but you should know that these are not being recycled. They are dumped in with household waste and sent to the Circular Butte landfill 90 miles away. While curbside collection currently remains unchanged, in the near future RAD Curbside customers will start seeing glossy catalogs, magazines, and books rejected from their curbside bins.
So, what’s a recycler to do? There are several viable options to prevent your used reading material from ending up in the landfill.
1. Source-reduction: If you receive fewer glossy material in your mailbox, less will end up in the trash. Unwanted catalogs are a big culprit. Take five minutes to log on to the free service Catalog Choice to rid your mailbox of junk catalogs and magazines (www.catalogchoice.org) Not only will this save resources, it ultimately saves you time sorting through junk mail. You can also contact individual companies to get off their mailing list, but Catalog Choice has made it much simpler – and it is free!
2. Subscribe to digital media rather than print magazines and books. Or if you must read hard copies, consider getting from the library or sharing your subscription and books with friends and neighbors
3. Donate good quality used magazines to doctor’s offices, schools, free libraries, schools, or thrift stores, but ask first if they want them. Nobody wants to be buried under dozens of copies of National Geographic.
4. Donate good quality used books to libraries or thrift stores. While donating locally saves shipping cost and energy, there are many worthwhile organizations that help you donate books to the less fortunate including soldiers, kids in Africa, and prisoners.
5. There are a few recycling options for used magazines and catalogs. All of the USPS post offices offer recycling for junk mail including magazines and catalogs. Jackson Hole Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling still collects and recycles glossy magazines at catalogs at all of their 24-hr recycling drop off sites. You can keep a box of “Jackson” recyclables that aren’t recycled in our county to take over if you ever have errands in Jackson. This includes aluminum foil/pie plates, plastic film and bubble wrap, propane camp stove canisters, shampoo and laundry bottles (our county only takes clean, transparent bottles) and now magazines and catalogs. Jackson also collects used books at their main office which get used by the Big Brother Big Sisters of Utah.
There may be other local options available, but as of press time, this is all we have. Stay tuned for more recycling changes in the upcoming months when the new bins arrive. And whatever you do, please DO NOT throw your magazines in with the office paper as County staff time and your taxpayer dollars will just be wasted while they fish it all out by hand.
Thanks for your cooperation and understanding in keeping recycling viable for Teton County.