Recycling has increased, but we can do more

If you recycle and try to make less waste, you can easily end up with more in the recycling bin and yard waste bags than what is in your trash can.

Considering curbside recycling didn’t even exist in most communities a quarter century ago, this is an amazing development.

With the inclusion of corrugated cardboard and paperboard in curbside collections, we can now recycle all our paper-based packaging, every scrap of printed paper and all our bottles and cans.

Since it is illegal to burn recyclables in mandated recycling communities, it also means that there’s not much left in the trash to legally set ablaze.

Like all recycling, it’s important to do it properly. Flatten boxes, stuff them in a larger box and place them next to other recyclable paper. Save a large cereal box, stick it under your sink and place your flattened paperboard in the box. Set the “box of boxes” out for collection with your paper.

The greasy bottom to your pizza box still goes in the trash. But just about every other piece of cardboard, both at home and work, now gets recycled. In fact, for the first time, what you recycle at home is identical to what you recycle at work.

It’s easy, too. In fact, in many ways some recycling is easier than putting it in the trash bag. Simply replace some of your trash cans with recycling containers. Many folks keep a small paper recycling receptacle near the computer or the place where homework or bill paying is done.

Place a recycling container for your bottles and cans in or near the kitchen. Remember that none of your bottles and cans need to be separated from each other either. Just rinse them out and toss them into the bin.

Despite the apparent convenience and ease of recycling, we are still struggling to get everyone on board – both in the home and in the workplace.

Sometimes we complain about our trash and recycling haulers. The hauler compliance is now 85 percent. But only about 50 percent of residential dwellings are recycling. It seems likely that more than 1 in 10 don’t even have waste recycling service.

And probably less than a third of businesses and institutions are recycling everything they should. Many are recycling cardboard, but not anything else.

Yet there are many success stories in places where they don’t even have to recycle.

The Martinsburg Area Recycling Center has already sold 250 memberships, even though they have to pay a small fee to help pay for collection costs. And many businesses are going above and beyond the call of duty. Now if we could just find a way to make that enthusiasm contagious.

More information on the May 4 electronics and special recycling event at PNG Field at the Blair County Ballpark is available at

John Frederick ( writes on environmental issues every other week.