To the Editor:
Following the directions of our local recycling contractor, Waste Management, for weeks I placed used batteries in a sandwich bag, something I have done for years. As directed, I placed this bag near the tote (actually on top of the closed lid) when I placed the tote at the curb for the usual Friday pickup.
It is my understanding that this separation is because of the toxicity of batteries and to facilitate their separation from the usual mix of metal, glass, paper and plastic.
It just happened that I was in the front room when the truck arrived, and – being curious about where those batteries would be stored when collected – I observed the driver as he came for the tote. Imagine my surprise when, and he picked up the bag of batteries while grabbing the tote’s handle, he simply tossed that bag into the large hopper, the hopper into which the tote’s contents are dumped. I had expected the bag to be placed into a separate storage compartment, where the contents would not be mixed with other recyclable material, otherwise why did I bother to keep them separate?
A plastic sandwich bag will quite easily rip open in the harsh mechanical environment of the collection truck. The truck will not travel far before all is dumped together. This revelation brings to mind several other questions.
At one time, when recycling was in its infancy, we were required to separate plastic, glass, metal and paper for collection. This soon changed to the all-together mix of all recyclable components. In its infancy, we also learned that many recyclable materials were simply dumped in with the rest of the trash. Because the industry was not yet mature enough to manage the surge of materials to be recycled, it all went as before, into a landfill somewhere.
The early promises were simply the usual political ploy to convince us that something was being done when, in fact, only words were being done. My questions now are, where are these recyclable materials taken? Are they separated? Are they dumped into another landfill? Are we being, again, fooled by words in lieu of deeds? Is anyone watching this?
The separation of these materials has to be terribly labor-intensive. Is that cost too high to allow it to be done? Are we being hoodwinked yet again, all in the name of political expedience?