June 15, 2010

By Lorraine Cyr

Although 32% of municipal waste is reported to be recycled, there are two problems with this picture. One is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated in 1988 that municipal waste was only 2% of all waste generated, and secondly, the total amount of waste generated, recycled, or disposed is not truly known because the EPA has not collected or confirmed that data. Failure to so is in violation of federal requirements but the EPA does not issue fines.

What does DC do with our recycled waste?  In this article published by the City Paper in November 2009 http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/38060/how-private-contractors-in-dc-are-sending-your-recycling-to  The reporter found that most private hauling companies mix your recycled goods with the regular trash. Local environmentalists say there is plenty of blame to go around for Washington’s recycling record, which is among the worst in the country. The companies paid to haul the recycling from office and retail buildings and most condo and apartment complexes have few incentives to do the right thing. For starters, the market for recyclables has tanked.

And it appears that fear of consequences doesn’t figure into the haulers’ behavior. The city’s recycling enforcement efforts focus on making sure offices and retailers are putting their newspapers and plastic water bottles in the appropriate bins, not on making sure that those newspapers and water bottles actually get recycled.

What can you do?  Check up on your waste removal company!  Get up early trash pickup day and see if your company picks up recycled trash separately or not. If you find that they are mixing the trash report it to your Management Company.  There are some companies who do recycle and it is worth the effort to find them.  Your Association pays extra for recycling so don’t let them mix it with regular trash!


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