At approximately 11:30 am on Thursday July 12, 2018, our York County Waste Management/Recycling manager received a call that the holding area of a County Waste Curbside Recycling truck was on fire in the Dare Road area. Due to the quick response by the driver and the York County Dept. of Fire & Life Safety, there were no injuries. However, the truck was emptied of all of its contents into the street on Dare Road. What was discovered was very disappointing to any member of the community who is passionate about recycling and the environment: a whole truckload of contaminated recyclables. Unfortunately, the contamination was not due to the fire, or the means by which it was put out. The contamination occurred before the recyclables were ever loaded onto the truck. Pizza boxes, plastic wrap, trash and trash bags, food contamination, even a gas can: so many materials that should never have made it into the recycling container in the first place.
The recycling industry is facing challenges on a larger scale than ever before. Through single-stream recycling (all recycling is collected in one container, then separated at a recycling facility), participation in recycling programs has increased, since separation at the curb is no longer necessary. However, misunderstanding of curbside recycling and what materials are actually recyclable has also increased, leading to mass contamination that we can no longer afford to ignore. Some statistics have found that the contamination rate may be as high as 25%, which is certainly in line with the contamination level seen on our York County street.
We appeal to our citizens, our passionate recycling community who want to take care of our beautiful York County environment: please take the time to recycle properly. York County recycling collection containers are equipped with large stickers on the lids that demonstrate what is actually recyclable. Glass, plastic containers, paper. NO plastic bags, NO pizza boxes, NO hazardous materials. Contamination of recyclables is taking place on a massive scale, and if recycling is not done properly, all of those materials will make their way into the landfill.
The image below displays what material is accepted in our curbside program. Many containers have this information on the lid of the recycling container already. If your container lid has different information or NO information at all that lists all items that CAN be recycled, please contact our office at 757-890-3780 so we can send the correct one to you. It is crucial to our operations that you have the correct information on how to Recycle Right!
You can also visit our website at www.yorkcounty.gov/wastemanagement for all information on recycling, including calendars, a list of acceptable materials, and helpful links.