Recycling in Haddam
By Kristin Battistoni, Tax Collector, Town of Haddam
The overwhelming support that the people of Haddam have shown with our plastic bag recycling is beyond our wildest dreams! What began as a “good idea” has evolved into a full-blown recycling campaign. At the time of this writing, we are a little over nine weeks into the campaign, and we have collected 823.2 pounds of plastic! To say we have exceeded expectations is an understatement.
The basic premise of the project is simple: collect and recycle soft plastic that is used by Trex in the manufacturing of their building material. They use plastic that cannot be traditionally taken in our single stream recycling. If the Town could collect 500 lbs. of plastic in a six-month period, Trex would give us a bench at the end of that challenge as a thank you. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. What should have taken us six months took a little six weeks. If we keep this up, we are on target to collect over a ton of plastic in our first six months.
Trex collects and reuses polyethylene plastic in their products. What exactly is this? According to some preliminary research I conducted, this material was developed in the 1960s and quickly became an environmental issue as quickly as its popularity grew. In fact, the United States uses about 300 bags per person annually! In 2014 California outlawed single-use plastic bags. Other states and local towns are following suit and banning the use of single-use plastic.
So the big question is what does this mean when I am trying to recycle my plastic at home or at work? Here are a few tips to make a decision on whether or not to throw it in the trash or recycle it. If the packaging will stretch when you pull it can be included. If the packaging is shiny or makes a crinkly/crunchy sound, it is not acceptable. This includes, but not limited to, prewashed salad bags, animal food bags, anything that is metallic looking inside, chip bags and candy bags. If you are not sure about a bag just flip it over, many times they are labeled with a recycle number and can be included. Please make sure the bags are clean and dry. If bags have food or are wet we risk contaminating the whole batch and it will end up in the regular trash.
What we are finding is that many times the bags that cannot be recycled will have a phone number or a website for customer service. Give them a call or send them a letter. Tell them you like their product but you would like it better if their packaging was recyclable. For example, it worked with Trader Joes. They are changing their packaging as a direct result of their consumers asking for the change!
Do you want to get involved? We are looking to get a good list of retail stores that will accept plastic specifically for the Trex program. They have given us a list of several chain stores that participate, but not all individual stores participate. We need people to take the bags to the participating stores. We are also looking for help on bringing the bags from the Transfer Station on Wednesdays to the Town Office Building for weighing and storing. We have a shed out back that is easy access for people to grab a bag or two when they are headed to a participating store. Even if you can grab a bag or two, it is an immense help. This is a community project; the more people we can get involved, the better!
We have collected in two months what we thought was going to take six months. We could stop now since we have reached our goal. But that is not going to happen! We have pulled almost 900 lbs. of plastic from our landfills, oceans and parks in just nine weeks! Just imagine what we can do in 2019!
Keep the plastic coming in. We have locations at the Town Office Building, Town Annex Building, Transfer Station, Higganum Pharmacy, River Valley Provisions, Haddam Elementary School (for students only) and the Brainard Library.
If you would be willing to help with this project, please contact Kristin at 860-345-8531 X 207.