Q&A: Recycling

I recently received an email regarding the discontinuation of curbside recycling:

 Dear Simpsonville City Council,

I was disappointed to learn today about the city of Simpsonville’s plan to discontinue offering curbside recycling pickup within city limits.  This is upsetting to me to see the city take a step backwards in terms of sustainability and care for the environment.  I have always believed right is right, regardless of the consequences.  In this case, stopping curbside recycling may seem like a gain since the expense can be diverted elsewhere.  However, I can assure you that decisions like these lead to long term loss and deterioration.  Right is still right even if it costs more.  I am ashamed that the city council will shift their values in exchange for money.  As I watch the world deteriorate in values and morals, it is especially frustrating to see it in your own city.

This is my response:

Thank you for reaching out about your concerns regarding recycling. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on this important matter.

As I said in our last meeting when we discussed this issue, ending curbside recycling pains me.  It really does. I am a big proponent of recycling, and my personal recycling bin is always fuller than my trash can. However, based on all of the information I have, I firmly believe it is the right choice–not just for fiscal sustainability but for long-term environmental sustainability as well.

 Until recently, I was not aware of how much of our curbside recycling is actually rejected by Pratt and sent to the landfill anyway. In large part, this is because so many people do not follow appropriate recycling procedures for single stream curbside recycling. It’s simply ineffective. Much to my dismay, we’re actually doing more harm than good with our current program. To think that we run extra trucks, creating extra emissions, increasing our carbon footprint, only for a significant portion of our recyclables to be dumped in the landfill anyway: unconscionable.

As I requested in the meeting, the City will plan to develop and implement a robust public education strategy to help residents engage in reducing, reusing, and recycling in ways that are more effective. Multiple drop-off locations for recyclables exist inside Simpsonville city limits and Greenville County.  Recycling this way increases the chances that people sort through their recyclables and ensure they are clean enough to drop off, which means they will be accepted rather than rejected at Pratt. In this way, we actually increase the amount of waste material that actually gets recycled.

In addition, people can donate their aluminum cans to one of the fire station trailer drop-offs to benefit pediatric burn patients via the S.C. Burned Children’s Fund. If we increase those donations, that multiplies the benefit. 

I agree with you: right is right. Recycling is the right choice. But we need to do it right if we really want to make a difference. It may take a little more work on each of our parts. I am willing to do that, and I am hopeful many of our like-minded residents will be as well. In doing so, rather than taking a step backward, we will be taking a step forward to a more sustainable future.

Again, thanks for reaching out and sharing your thoughts.