I have stopped recycling. I have stopped separating plastics, glass and metal from my daughter's soiled diapers, the reams of tissue we go through in our house, and a small mountain of used coffee grounds.
I want to recycle. I really do. But I want something in return: I want to know that the efforts of my city are equal to the task. They are not. At all.
My current waste bill reads like this:
Solid waste base fee: $23
Large cart disposal fee: $8
Recycling credit: $7
9.5% Solid waste management fee: $1.86
I pay 31 bucks per month to have my garbage hauled away. I am credited seven bucks if I separate my recyclables from the garbage.
Before, I was putting in about two hours per week to recycle. This included cleaning out the recyclable material, separating it from the trash, placing it in the proper receptacles, and having the recyclables at the curb by the prescribed time every other Friday, according to the rules set by the City Of Minneapolis.
My first infraction was that I placed two corrugated cardboard boxes out with the recycling. I broke two rules. 1) One of the boxes measured four feet by three feet. (The acceptable size is three feet by three feet. The other box was within the size limit); 2) The two boxes were not bundled together by twine. Stupid me. I made the asinine assumption that using twine to bundle two pieces of cardboard together was a waste in itself, and our trusty and able-bodied recycling personnel would have a hard time picking up two broken-down cardboard boxes. Apparently the recycling personnel lack capable motor skills with their six-foot arm span.
I actually received a letter from the city threatening me with taking away my seven-dollar credit if I did not follow the rules of proper corrugated cardboard handling.
About two months later, I received another notice, a yellow tag, on the bin that contained all the recyclable plastics. . .or so I thought they were all recyclables.
This time, I simply have no idea what I did wrong because the idiot recycling person failed to properly explain my wrongdoing. The yellow tag had pen marks equal to chicken scratches. The rule for plastic bottles is as follows:PLASTIC BOTTLES - Rinse, clean and place in paper bags. Remove and throw away all caps, lids, and pumps.Do not include - peanut butter, yogurt, or butter tubs; motor oil, pesticide or prescription bottles; plastic bags; foam containers; or microwave dinner trays.
The chicken scratches had underlined "Do not include," and "containers." That's interesting, because not one of the recyclable plastics in that bin violated any of the above rule.
So I did exactly as they have asked, and they still won't take my recycling.
But wait, there's more. I was also left with a typed half page letter that looked to be mimeographed by the secretary at the elementary school I used to attend. Every grammatical error you see below is exactly as the letter is written:
Plastic Bottles Bottles with a neck Plastic bottles
such as antifreeze, bleach, conditioner, cooking
oil, dish detergent, distilled water, fabric
softener, ketchup laundry detergent, lotion, milk,
pop, syrup, water, windshield fluid, etc... Rinse and
place in paper bags. Bag and place caps, lids, and
rings inside the garbage cart.
Plastic tubs, buckets or jars are not accepted
Plastic Tubs and Trays Bag and place inside the
garbage cart. We do not accept this item in the
recycling program. Market for this plastic is poor.
These plastics are usually a lower quality than
bottles. Clear plastics such as PET, PP and PS look
the same and are especially tough to sort on a
plastics sorting line. There is absolutely no market
for microwave trays.
Here is what I have gleaned from this tripe:
1. I'm supposed to place the unacceptable items in a bag and then put them in the garbage cart.
2. I'm supposed to know how a tub, bucket, or jar is different from a bottle.
3. I'm supposed to know the difference between PET, PP, and PS plastics.
4. I'm supposed to know the market value of all plastics, therefore able to separate approximately 20 different kinds of recyclable plastic.
5. Clear plastics look the same and are especially tough to sort in a plastics sorting line. I'm supposed to know this because the sorters, the people who are paid to do this, don't know the difference themselves.
Let us not forget that generous seven dollar credit. I get seven bucks credited to me per month to know more than the people actually recycling it.
Let's just say those people are making $20 per hour to take my recycling away, sort it, and send it off to recycle-ville. That would be $40 per week I should earn to do their job because they can't. That would be $160 per month. I get $7 per month, or 35 cents per hour.
To summarize: I am being given a credit of 35 cents per hour to do their job because they are incompetent.
To hell with that.
Before every environmentalist out there screams bloody murder, remember that recycling still is not an exact science. Recycling doesn't necessarily save money (I'm paying 31 bucks a month, but getting a seven dollar "credit"). I don't know of any situation where products made and packaged with recycled material are cheaper now than before recycled material was used.
And for those who think I should do it just because it's the right thing to do, it isn't. Whenever I donate my time or money, I demand to know that it's going to someone or something worthwhile. Otherwise I do not donate.
Recycling is a voluntary initiative, and because I do put the time and effort into making sure it's within the limits of the rules, I can make the decision on whether or not to recycle, and whether it's going to benefit me, my community, or this planet in the short or long term.
Unfortunately, my effort is ignored because the people responsible for it are incompetent.
Therefore, it is a waste of my time and effort. And with all waste, I'll do what I have always done: Throw it in the garbage.