Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fifth Ave. Recycling

While I recognize that we in Seattle are ahead of the most big cities in the public recycling race, I have a few concerns, mainly concerning what can be recycled in these receptacles. To start it off, we are all likely familiar with the standard container for cans and bottles (plastic and glass). Often these are overflowing with newspapers and paper coffee cups, the latter of which, to my knowledge, are not recyclable anyway and are specifically forbidden by the sign. I believe I've seen one of these that welcomes paper but I can't be sure (see below for the final verdict).

Across the street and a block south, one can find a newer incarnation of the mixed recycling container. The signage is not very descriptive but I presume cans and bottles are permissible. But what about newspaper or office paper?

But wait, another block south and one will find two new discriminating containers in front of the IBM building, a full block apart.

So, now I'm receiving mixed messages. It seems that a block ago I could dispose of aluminum and plastic bottles in the same bin but now I must separate them out? What about glass?

Turning to the internet for answers, as I often do, I find that only aluminum and tin cans, plastic and glass bottles can be recycled in all containers, regardless of what the sign says or doesn't say. All paper coffee cups (Tully's has compost bins for these in their stores), newspaper, and food waste goes in the garbage can. Okay, I can work with this but what about those walking the streets who haven't looked this up? Or the tourists?

And then there is the issue of how well we office workers understand the recycling programs in our own domain.

I share with you a photo of the newest issue of Arcade, which is chock full of articles about recycling, reuse, composting, etc., perched precariously on a garbage can in my office. I returned it to a more visible locale so that it could hopefully be read before being recycled but its true fate may have been the landfill.

1 comment:

patrecycles said...

I work for Seattle Public Utilities. I can tell you that we have new decals being installed this month on all of our public place recycling cans. They will now target Cans, Bottles, & Paper. The black cans you picture are private cans, not SPU managed. But your comments are great - I'll connect with the owners and see about improving their signage. Often manufacturers do not offer commigled signs or decals. I can be reached at 684-4512. -pat k