Monday, July 22, 2019

Show Me the Numbers

As usual, we have collected numbers from businesses, organizations, and haulers so we can calculate how many tons of materials Snyder County recycled the previous year, as required by Act 101. In turn, DEP uses our figures to calculate recycling tonnages for the state. This process allows us to monitor our progress and serves as a basis for grant money we receive.

Below is a chart of the numbers for 2018 for the entire county, along with two previous years for comparison. Metals include aluminum and bimetal cans, while organics includes leaves, wood waste, and yard waste as well as food waste. All numbers are in tons.

Countywide Recycling Numbers

Single stream
1391 tons

The numbers indicate we’re holding steady with our recycling efforts, but there’s room for plenty of improvement. Single-stream recycling continues to increase, indicating more residents are subscribing to the service through haulers. Tonnages for glass, metals, and plastics are down slightly, probably because of the increase in single-stream. Selinsgrove Borough wins the prize for the most residential recycling, while Monroe Township is tops in commercial recycling if you discount organics. This makes sense because Monroe includes the Route 11/15 strip and most of the big-box businesses there.

Materials Recycled by Municipality in 2018 (tons)
Adams Township
Center Township
Beavertown Borough
Franklin Township
Freeburg Borough
Jackson Township
McClure Borough
Middleburg Borough
Middlecreek Township
Monroe Township
Penn Township
Perry Township
Selinsgrove Borough
Shamokin Dam Borough
Spring Township
West Perry Township

Thanks again to all county residents, organizations, municipalities, and businesses that recycled in 2018 and those who reported your numbers to us. By measuring our recycling tonnages, we can continue to make progress in recycling and sustaining our planet.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority

570-374-6889, x-115

Eco-Friendly Fido recently sent out a newsletter with an article entitled “The Green Dog Owner.” I thought it had some handy tips that not only apply to canines but other pets as well, notably cats, and echo sentiments we preach in the recycling world. Some of these may seem subtle and insignificant, but when you consider that we have 70 million dogs in this country, it can add up if we all do our part.

Buy Green
Carefully read product labels and make sure they’re biodegradable and made of eco-friendly materials and packaging. For example, consider a hemp collar and leash or a dog bed made of organic cotton.

Natural Grooming
Regular shampoo is filled with toxic chemicals and can cause water pollution. Use eco-friendly, biodegradable shampoos free from chemicals, coloring, preservatives, and toxic ingredients.

Potty Accidents
Many common cleaning fluids are toxic to pets and harmful to the environment. Search online to find a formula to make your own from ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, lemon, corn starch, and unscented soap.

Buy Organic Dog Food
It’s barely processed, raised sustainably, and free of added hormones, preservatives, antibiotics, chemicals, artificial ingredients, and pesticides.

Scoop that Poop
Use biodegradable bags to pick up your dog’s poop instead of conventional plastic bags that go to the landfill.

Buy in Bulk
You’ll use less plastic packaging and cardboard. You’ll also make fewer trips to the store, meaning less car usage.

Adopt from a Shelter
This decreases the shelter’s use of resources and can save the life of a puppy by opening up space for a rescue that would have otherwise been euthanized.

Spay and neuter
This will reduce overpopulation of puppies in shelters and conserve food, energy, and resources that would otherwise be spent on rescued dogs in shelters. It also saves the environment from the huge amount of wastes produced by homeless puppies.

If you’ve got something that used to belong to your dog but is no longer needed, donate it to your local shelter instead of throwing it away. Dog clothes, towels, beds, houses, toys, crates, and canned food can help.

Use old socks or a tennis ball as a toy for your dog. Use a towel or rag to clean up after your pet instead of paper towels and wash and reuse it. Use reusable containers to store your pet’s food.

More Walking
Instead of driving to that nice dog park across town, try walking your dog around your neighborhood or to a local park, woods, or field.

Flea and Tick Medications
Stay on top of these, but don’t use any pesticides. Use topical, spot-on treatments rather than sprays, powder, or collars.

Tag ‘Em
Put a visible tag on your dog with contact information in case they get lost, instead of printing a million “missing dog” flyers.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority

570-374-6889, x-115

Recycling Legislation in the Works

In the myriad newsletters that come across my computer screen, I’ve seen many articles about legislative bills in recent times that aim to ban plastic straws, plastic bags, and Styrofoam food containers. I found it refreshing to see an article about a host of bills right here in Pennsylvania. Written by Catalina Jaramillo, the piece was posted on and picked up by WasteAdvantage Magazine. I’ve excerpted parts of it here.

A group of Democratic state representatives have announced a package of 13 bills that tackle environmental and health problems posed by waste, litter, and single-use plastic. The bills aim to alter the behavior of what they call a “throwaway society” with bans and taxes to punish use of plastic items that can be used only once, while pushing for incentives for recycling and waste reduction.

State Rep. Tim Briggs of Montgomery County spearheads the “Zero Waste PA” legislative package. In February, he introduced a bill that prohibits restaurants and stores from dispensing food in plastic plates, cups, or any other polystyrene container, including Styrofoam.
“Recycling is broken in Pennsylvania,” he says. “The whole system needs to be reworked.”

The package includes a bill from Montgomery County Rep. Mary Jo Daley that would prohibit plastic straws from being distributed except at the request of a customer. Another measure, from Philadelphia Rep. Donna Bullock, would increase fines on illegal dumping. Philadelphia Reps. Brian Sims and Jared Solomon proposed a 2-cent fee on non-reusable plastic bags at big grocery stores.

Bucks County Rep. Wendy Ulman announced a bottle bill that gives five cents per container returned. Chester County Rep. Melissa Shusterman proposed legislation that would prohibit the distribution of products with packages made with non-recyclable plastics, unless the company selling the item takes the packaging back. And Philadelphia Rep. Chris Rabb offered a measure that puts a 20-cent deposit on cigarette packs. “Cigarette litter, 30 percent of all of our litter, is among the most toxic of all commonly littered items, containing a multitude of chemicals,” Rabb says.

Bucks County Rep. Perry Warren announced a bill that would reduce the number of plastic water bottles sent to landfills by requiring newly constructed state buildings and those undergoing renovations to their water and pipe infrastructure to install water-bottle filling stations. Another set of bills presented by Reps. Danielle Friel Otten, Parry Kim, Mary Isaacson, and Elizabeth Fiedler seeks to reduce waste by improving recycling and composting or by increasing the disposal fees at landfills and incinerators. And a bill from Rep. Mike Zabel of Delaware County calls for implementing best practices for electronic-waste recycling.
Fiedler, who represents a district in South Philadelphia, proposed increasing the disposal fee at municipal waste landfills to $8 per ton from $4, to reduce the amount of trash imported into the state from New York and New Jersey.

For the whole story, go online and visit And stay tuned to see how these bills progress.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority
570-374-6889, x-115

Carpet Awkward to Recycle

Most items that we recycle every day are small enough that we can put them in a bin and take it to our local drop-off center and dump it in the proper roll-off container. But what about the spent carpeting in your house or business? How do we recycle that? We all know it comes in big cumbersome rolls that are hard to dispose of, much less recycle.
This comes to light because in California, often the country’s leader in environmental matters, regulators have approved a carpet recycling program. The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) recently approved the California Carpet Stewardship Plan 2018-2022, prepared by the stewardship group Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE). This makes carpet producers responsible for their product, and consumers pay a fee of 35 cents a square yard when they buy new carpet. CARE uses the revenue generated to support carpet recycling according to the plan.
Carpet is a complex system that contains a lot of plastic, making it fair game for recycling largely because it doesn’t break down in landfills. The face fiber is typically made of nylon, polyester, PETE, or polypropylene, while the backing systems are made of latex, polyvinylchloride (PVC), or polypropylene. Collecting carpet and separating its components proves challenging. Nationwide, an estimated 4-5 billion pounds of carpet goes to landfills every year, and to give you an idea of its recycling rate, about 15 percent of it gets recycled in California.
But despite the complications, nearly all types of carpet can be recycled. Depending on the fiber, it can be used to make new carpeting or a new product. For starters, some recycled carpet is made from plastic bottles. Old carpet is used to make composite lumber, roofing shingles, railroad ties, automotive parts, carpet cushion, and stepping stones, among other things.
If you’re renovating a space and looking to recycle your old carpet or buy new recycled material, you can start by working with your local carpet dealer. Unfortunately, calls to a few in Snyder County reveal that they generally don’t offer recycled carpet or options for recycling your old carpet, so you may have to turn over a lot of stones or expand your reach. Major carpet manufacturers like Mohawk, Shaw, and Interface offer recycled carpets. Interface deserves special consideration because they’re the pioneer in recycled carpet. They developed recycled carpet tiles that you can shift around the room as they wear, and then you can send them back to be recycled when they wear out.
Many companies that recycle carpet also take carpet padding. This is recycled separately from carpet, however, so check that both are accepted by the program you choose to recycle your carpet.

For information on carpet recycling, Earth911 offers a good source on its website:, listing carpet recycling facilities, so you can find one near you. And CARE has a good website as well ( I should point out that CARE’s website lists carpet recycling companies, but none in central PA; the closest ones are in the Baltimore, D.C., and Philadelphia areas.

Tom Gibson
Snyder County Recycling Coordinator
Snyder County Solid Waste Management Authority

570-374-6889, x-115