From this morning's newspaper.
We can’t afford to kick can on recycling
The recent decision to suspend trash recycling in Surprise is unfortunate and part of a growing trend across the country and Arizona.
For now, Surprise is putting recyclables in its landfill. It is hoping to find a solution and asking residents to continue to separate their trash so that when a solution is found people will still be in the habit of recycling.
This is not an isolated incident. It’s a growing crisis.
The market for recyclables has been upended since China announced it would no longer be accepting most recyclables from the United States.
That’s not just unfortunate. It has created a recycling crisis as a number of cities across the country and in Arizona are scaling back or suspending recycling programs.
This year, recycling has been reduced in some way in cities all over Arizona. Flagstaff no longer accepts certain types of plastics. Sedona Recycles has closed drop-off sites in neighboring communities. Sierra Vista has ended curbside recycling. Nogales is sending most recyclables to the landfill.
Cities and towns across America are also walking back recycling programs. At one point, Philadelphia was incinerating recyclables until public outcry forced them to stop.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Other cities such as Tucson and Chandler have managed to avoid this crisis. Phoenix is looking at options.
Hopefully, other cities bear in mind that the public wants recycling. The goal should be to deal with this problem the right way.
As president of Keep Phoenix Beautiful, one of our many goals is to keep recyclables out of landfills.
Cities across the state need to secure resources and infrastructure to makerecycling possible now and years from now.
Simply put, the best way to protect recycling in Arizona is to make sure cities and towns have reliable supply chains to transport and process paper, plastics, food cans and glass. If we cannot ship the recyclables abroad, we must find local solutions on reuse.
This is not only the responsible thing to do, it is also popular. A recent survey found that 86% of Phoenix voters regularly recycle; 87% feel it is the responsibility of the city to provide
a recycling program; 77% have a favorable view of the recycling program.
Kicking this can down the road is not the answer.
Phoenix and the larger metro area have been recycling for a very long time, and now is not the time to go backward.
We, as citizens and consumers, need to do our part to recycle right by putting the correct things in our curbside bins, which makes the whole process more successful. There is more information on our website, keepphxbeautiful.org.
For those hard-to-recycle items like electronics, clothing, batteries and even golf clubs, Keep Phoenix Beautiful will be starting our new season of “I Recycle Phoenix” event on Oct. 26 at Desert Ridge Shopping Center. This is a free service we provide; no water bill is necessary and you don’t have to be a Phoenix resident.
There have been trends in recycling for years. Keep Phoenix Beautiful will do our part by educating thousands of kids as well as adults every year about recycling and providing recycling services at many of our special events in the Valley of the Sun.
Let’s just keep moving in a positive direction!
Tom Waldeck is president of Keep Phoenix Beautiful, which educates youth on recycling and provides recycling support for large (and small) events like the Rock ’N’ Roll Marathon, Phoenix 10K, Pride Run and many Local First events. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter, @Tom_KPBAZ.