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Health, Science & Environment

Sanitation Districts Hope Waste-Filled Holidays Trigger Recycling

More Christmas gifts and parties mean more waste.  And the Salt Lake Valley Waste and Recycling District says customers can cut that waste by recycling more.

Overstuffed black garbage pails line Salt Lake Valley curbs after Christmas. Pam Roberts looks at them and sees valuable resources instead. Roberts is executive director of the Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling District, and picking up that refuse costs her agency money. Recycling generates revenue.

“We wanna try to get the recycling materials that people put into the black can out of there and into the blue,”
 says Roberts, whose district serves 81,000 homes.  “So paper, plastic, cardboard, all metals can go into that blue bin, even tissue paper.”

Roberts says about 60 percent of what winds up in the dump could have been recycled. Local leaders issued a challenge last summer to boost recycling to 20 percent, and valley residents are close to meeting it. This year’s strong economy could mean record rubbish, says Roberts.

“The economics is that, if we’re in economic hard times, we don’t generate as much waste,” she says. “We’re not buying as much. So the more we buy, the more we throw out. We just want to make sure if we’re throwing it out, put in the right bin.”

Stanford University’s buildings office says Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

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