Opinion

Recycling: Did you know?

As King County’s recycling program grows, the rules about what can and can’t be recycled change from city to city.

It’s important for Snoqualmie residents to stay informed about all the items they can now recycle as well as continue to understand the importance of recycling. Allowing glass bottles in the recycling toter, food scraps in the yard waste toter, and with the E-Cycle Washington program and improved hazardous waste recycling, the county has facilitated almost all recycling needs. Many changes have made recycling easier and resulted in a healthier environment.

Snoqualmie residents can now recycle all their food scraps and compostable materials in their yard waste container. Items such as vegetable and fruit trimmings, meats, fish and poultry bones, plate scrapings, egg shells, coffee grounds, paper towels and napkins — even greasy pizza delivery boxes — can all be recycled in your yard waste cart. Composting all organics instead of sending materials to the landfill reduces waste and provides a rich resource to the county. The food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste are taken to Cedar Grove Composting where they break down into compost, a soil amendment that enriches soil and improves plant health.

Washington state residents can now recycle their TVs, computers, laptops and monitors for free through the E-Cycle Washington program. The nearest E-Cycle Washington drop-off location to Snoqualmie is AtWork! Recycling in Issaquah. Computer systems and monitors contain toxic metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury. Heavy metals can cause damage to living organisms at very low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain. Recycling conserves resources and keeps toxic materials out of the landfill. Many of the heavy metals can also be recycled and safely reused.

For fluorescent tubes and bulbs, there are many drop-off locations throughout King County. For a complete list of retailers, check the Take it Back Network Web site. The Home Depot and Bartell Drugs locations accept only bulbs for recycling. Fluorescent bulbs and tubes contain mercury, a toxic substance that is especially harmful to children and pregnant women. If fluorescent bulbs and tubes are disposed of improperly, mercury may be released into the environment, posing a health hazard. If you do break a bulb or tube, try to avoid breathing the vapor that is released. Carefully sweep up the lamp with a piece of paper and then use a piece of tape to pick up the remaining powder and glass pieces which should be put in a plastic bag and placed in a sealed container with a lid. Dispose at a Household Hazardous Waste collection facility.

When recycling plastic and glass bottles, the lids must be removed and placed in the garbage. The lids are not recyclable because they are made from a different kind of material than the bottles. If the two different types of materials are mixed, one contaminates the other, making the end product worth less. The lids can also get stuck in the machines and cause problems during the recycling process. Also remember, when recycling bottles and cans it is not necessary to remove the labels.

King County’s “What Do I Do With” Web site provides recycling options for a wide variety of items to citizens in our region who are unsure of how to dispose of something. There is also the Hazardous Wastemobile, which is a mobile facility that travels to communities in King County and sets up in parking lots for three days at a time so that residents can bring and dispose of their household hazardous waste. This program like the others works to protect human health and the environment from pollution and contamination

• Patrick Pirtle is the Snoqualmie Recycling Program Intern

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