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Recycle Responsibly During the Holidays

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Local Experts Urge Residents to “Recycle Responsibly” During the Holidays

ST. LOUIS, MO  (Dec. 18, 2018) –  Household waste increases an average of 25 percent during the holiday season, making recycling more important than at any other time of the year. With the recent concerns about high contamination rates in recycling, the experts at the sustainability group OneSTL are reminding residents to make every effort to be aware of what can and cannot be recycled and to follow those rules.

“To keep things as simple as possible, we tell people to keep plastic bags out of bins, and to “Stick with the Six,” said Jenny Wendt, a member of the OneSTL Materials and Recycling Working Group and City of University City Senior Project Manager.

“The Six” refers to the six categories of items that can be recycled: paper, flattened cardboard, plastic bottles and containers, glass bottles and jars, food and beverage cans, and food and beverage cartons. All items should be loose (not bagged), clean and dry so they don’t spoil the other items in the bin before they’re sorted and sent off to be made into new products. 

“Between holiday parties and gift-giving, people are using a lot of containers, paper and cardboard this time of year. It might be tempting to just throw everything into the trash can, but it’s important to keep these items out of landfills. Remember, you’re also giving them another life as they are turned into new products,” Wendt said.

The group has launched a “Recycle Responsibly” education campaign with a special emphasis on keeping plastic bags and plastic film out of recycling bins. These items often make their way into residential and commercial recycling bins, but they should be brought back to grocery and retail stores for recycling instead.

During and after the holidays, recycling processors tend to see an increase in unaccepted items. The biggest problem is plastic bags, but there’s also an increase in bubble wrap, holiday string lights, ribbons, strings, bows, garland and Styrofoam packaging. Many people put old electronics in their recycling bin, too. All of these items can jam the sorting equipment, putting workers at risk and shutting down operations for hours.

“We know that many people like to bag their recyclables and then put them in the bin or cart, still in the plastic bag. We really need residents to break this habit and keep the bags out. Better yet, reduce your plastic bag waste by using reusable bags whenever possible.” Wendt said. 

Residents throughout the St. Louis region can find information about where to recycle plastic bags and films, holiday lights and electronics by visiting RecycleResponsibly.org.  Wendt encourages the public to follow OneSTL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“We use social media to offer tips and reminders about the right way to recycle. We also answer questions from the public. It’s a great way to connect with residents in our region and keep everyone motivated about recycling,” Wendt said.

OneSTL is a collaboration to create a more sustainable region.  The OneSTL Materials and Recycling Working Group includes representatives from the following entities:  St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District, City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, Jefferson County, Madison County, City of University City, Brightside St. Louis, EarthWays Center of Missouri Botanical Garden,  Republic Services,  St. Louis Composting, St. Louis Earth Day,  St. Louis Green Dining Alliance, Recycling on the Go, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University and East-West Gateway Council of Governments.