Doing what we can

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Dusti Johnson, Montana Department of Environmental Quality Materials Management Specialist, believes that communities have a very difficult time managing several different recycling items in their program, and has been quoted as saying, “Just concentrate on one item, and do it well!”

Diligent recyclers are passionate about being able to recycle everything possible, and will go to great lengths to keep as much refuse out of the landfill as they can. These dedicated folks are to be commended, and encouraged. Although the markets and transportation costs are keeping us from recycling everything in Sanders County, we are doing what we can. We just need to do it well!

Recycling guidelines:

Metal — tin and all metals. Clean! Aluminum cans — All liquids poured out! All batteries. Used oil. Cardboard: Corrugated 3-wall, clean, no food. The following items are NOT corrugated & NOT accepted: single-wall paperboard, such as cereal boxes, beverage 6-packs, toilet paper or paper towel rolls, tissue boxes, egg cartons. No Styrofoam peanuts or packing! Speaking of polystyrene foam, (Styrofoam being a brand name) a second letter to all county vendors (drink or eating establishments, banks, churches, dental offices, etc.) has been sent out advising them to discontinue using/offering single-use, non-biodegradable foam products (beverage cups, go-boxes, sandwich and pastry trays). Exception: trays for raw meats.

Styrofoam has become an environmental hazard. It is manufactured from non-renewable fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals such as benzene, listed with some groups to be carcinogenic to humans. When you drink your steaming cup of coffee or spoon your soup out of a foam cup, you also take in small doses of chemicals that leach from it. Trace amounts of styrene as well as various chemical additives in polystyrene migrate into food, which increases significantly in hot liquids (www.ewg.org). Single-use foam serving containers break apart easily, never biodegrade and litter parks, streets, river, lakes and oceans. Because of these health and environmental concerns, Styrofoam has been banned in over 20 cities in the United States, including Seattle, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

An initial letter was sent out in 2016, encouraging vendors to research more compostable products as a replacement, and to use up their current inventory. The target now for not offering single-use foam products as “go-boxes and cups” in Sanders County is Jan. 1, 2019. Hats off to those establishments — such as First Security Bank, Big Eddy’s, and Quinn’s — who use paper products instead of foam. If you see a business offering paper products instead of foam, commend them! A very popular lunch business in Bozeman puts their sandwiches on a paper plate with plastic wrap. Customers can be given a choice of aluminum foil, plastic wrap or paper plates/containers. (Or folks can have a go-box stashed in their vehicle for times when they can’t finish the meal! Radical, but practical.)

LET’S DO WHAT WE CAN, AND DO IT WELL!

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