RECYCLING CHALLENGE: Knowing Where It Goes

It can be hard knowing what goes in and what stays out of your Curb It recycling bin. Families in one community are learning it’s a little easier when recycling becomes a contest.

With three kids and an in-home day care, Jacque Dilks knows a lot about waste. She says, “There’s definitely a lot of trash, a lot of dirty diapers.”

Now, she’s learning what should stay out of the trash. Dilks says, “I wanted to learn more about recycling. And, since I do in-home childcare, I have an impact on a lot of different children, so I wanted to help inform them.”

Dilks signed up for Metro Waste Authority’s Recycling Challenge. It’s a twelve week pilot project in Altoona. Eight families are taking part in the educational program.

Program Coordinator Leslie Holsapple says, “Our hope is they’ll turn around and they’ll teach other people in the family, extended family, neighbors, other people how easy it is to recycle.”

Every other week Holsapple comes to the curb to go through participant’s carts.Holsapple looks to see what they’re doing right. Looking through Dilks’ cart she says, “So far in her recycling cart, we’ve got toilet paper rolls. Just as I’m skimming over the top here, everything is looking great.”

She also looks to see what they could do better. Looking through the trash, she says, “I do notice one recyclable in here, which is a Sunny D container.”

Holsapple says the category that causes the most confusion is plastics. She says, “Our way of making it easier for people is to say if it has a twist off lid on the container, then it is recyclable and we’ll take it.”

Just rinse out the container and twist the top back on. The tops are accepted now too. Metro Waste Authority will also take plastic yogurt and margarine containers. But, leave the lids off those. Waxy cardboard cartons for food and beverages are also accepted now. Holsapple says, “This is a really great product being recycled in the Des Moines area because they’re being captured here in Des Moines. They’re being sorted at the sorting facility in Des Moines. And, then they’re going to ReWall, which is making them into an alternative for dry wall and ceiling tiles.”

Dilks says her family has already improved their recycling habits, and they hope to win the challenge. She says, “There is a prize. We can actually win an iPad.” But, the biggest reward may be what they learn along the way.

The pilot program is just in Altoona for now. If it improves recycling numbers, Metro Waste Authority may expand it to other communities.



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