(Above video from March 2019 previewing the County Supervisors Public Hearing)
UPDATED AS OF APRIL 9 at 1:15 p.m. The meeting has been rescheduled to Thursday, April 18 at 5 p.m.
BROKEN BOW–The public is invited to a community conversation about recycling and how we all can help Custer County Recycling maintain a successful program. Broken Bow’s Green Coalition with Custer County Recycling and Nebraska Recycling Council is hosting a community meeting to share information about what it takes to make recycling work, what materials can be recycled, where they go, and some of the most common problems.
Program Manager for the Nebraska Recycling Council Megan Jackson works with communities around the state to help them think about policies and practices to support recycling and waste reduction.
Originally from the Sandhills, Jackson knows that certain recycling practices found in urban areas are not as affordable or convenient in rural areas. However, rural recycling provides the same benefits.
“We’re keeping materials out of our landfill, that’s saving [money] down the road. We have to think about this in the long term. The more material we keep out of the landfill and the savings that we see decades down the road. That’s valuable as a taxpayer. The economic value and there’s also obviously the huge environmental impact and value to our air, land, water resources,” Jackson said.
Despite challenging markets for recyclables, Jackson says “we’ve got to recycle more and we have to recycle right.” On Thursday evening, discussion will focus on which items can be recycled as well as insight into how recycling works as a business.
For example, materials have to be sorted and cleaned to make things run more efficiently and an entire bale of milk jugs is worth about $300. Aluminum can be recycled indefinitely and is currently worth $800 a ton. Recycled #1 and #2 plastic can be re-purposed into plastic lumber and fence posts.
For rural programs such as Custer County Recycling, collecting enough clean material to sell as a commodity is critical to making the whole process as efficient and sustainable as possible.
“I think with that information we can all find ourselves in it [recycling]. This is how we make a big difference in supporting our recycling program. It really does come down to recycling more and recycling right,” Jackson said.
Here are a few tips for recycling from the Nebraska Recycling Council:
Start small. Aluminum cans are the one item we should never let get away. Recycling aluminum saves more than 90% of the energy needed to make new aluminum. On the flip side, tossing away an aluminum container wastes as much energy as pouring out half that container’s volume of gasoline.
Sort materials at home first before taking to a recycling trailer. Set up a recycling station in the garage or porch with four separate containers for aluminum, tin, paper, and plastics #1 and #2.
Recycle right by picking up a recycling guide at the library and posting it somewhere handy and visible. Recycling can be confusing business, but we’ve made it easy with what materials are acceptable in the recycling trailers.
When in doubt, throw it out. It’s better to throw an item in the trash than having it cause problems at the recycling center. Some items can jam machines or cause unsafe work environments for the people sorting the material.
Keep it clean, dry, and empty. Containers with leftover food or paper that’s wet cannot be recycled, and instead becomes a disgusting problem for the recycling center to deal with. It’s better to just throw that jar of peanut butter out if you don’t want to clean it, and that’s okay too.