By the Arlington Recycling Committee
Here’s the good news: increased recycling in Arlington has saved the town $750,000 over the past five years, as the amount of trash that the town pays to incinerate annually has dropped by almost 15 percent. A substantial portion of that decrease happened in the past 18 months, and the DPW and Arlington Recycling Committee thank everyone for their efforts to recycle more.
Here’s the better news: at a time when state budgets are being slashed and we’re looking for every penny to maintain services, there’s a big opportunity for us to save even more money for the town by increasing our recycling rate.
Right now, about one-third of our municipal solid waste (everything that you put out on the curb including trash, recyclables, yard waste and white goods) is diverted, or not sent to the incinerator.
We can do even better: as much as 50 percent of the 16,000 tons currently incinerated each year could be diverted. That would mean 8,000 tons which we would no longer pay $72-plus per ton to burn. Don’t have your calculator handy? That’s more than $576,000.
We can reach 50 percent diversion in five years by increasing the amount we recycle by 5 percent each year.
Here’s how you can be part of this money- and environment-saving solution: Next time you are about to toss a recyclable item in the trash, ask yourself the 20K question:
If every one of the 20,000 households in Arlington recycled this item instead of throwing it away, how much lighter would our load of trash be this week? Remember, each ton of trash costs more than $72 to incinerate.
A single weekday newspaper x 20K households = 6.25 tons
A single Sunday newspaper x 20K households = 28.1 tons
A single cereal box x 20K households = 1.875 tons
A single sheet of paper x 20K = 40 reams of paper = 800 pounds
A single paper towel inner core x 20K = 625 lbs
A single toilet paper core x 20K = 250 lbs
The savings really add up when you look at cardboard. By the way, cardboard recycling is easier than ever thanks to the two large bins in the DPW parking lot on Grove Street. You don’t have to cut and bundle your cardboard, simply flatten boxes and slide them right into the bins.
A single large cardboard box x 20K = 30 tons
A single medium cardboard box x 20K = 15 tons
A single small cardboard box x 20K = 7.5 tons
As for those items you may feel a little lazy about rinsing out? Think again:
A beer bottle x 20K = 5 tons
A small salsa jar x 20K = 5 tons
A single pasta sauce jar x 20K = 8 tons
A single (empty) gallon milk container x 20K = 2.5 tons
You get the idea.
So each time you’re about to toss one of these items into the regular trash take a moment to imagine a pile of 20,000 of them… yikes! And then please 'toss' them in the recycling bin instead!
Every little effort really can and does make a big difference.