When you throw an item into a large green recycling bin in Casper, you’ve taken the first step on its long journey of regenerating into something new.
It will then go to the Casper balefill, where it is sorted into the appropriate batch of paper, plastic or metal products. From there it will be sent for processing and eventually sold as recyclable material, where it will get a second life.
But Cindie Langston, Casper’s solid waste manager, estimates that only about 10 to 20 percent of Casper-area residents actively recycle.
While there are currently no city-run curbside recycling services in Natrona County, there is a Utah-based company that offers curbside pickup here starting at $12. per month.
But it’s free to use the city’s eight recycling depots, plus those in Mills and Bar Nunn – you just need to know what can go in there and how to sort it. Too much contamination in a recycling batch, Langston said, can make the sorting process longer and more expensive, and the city may end up taking less money to dispose of the lower-quality batch. In the worst case, the load must be completely destroyed.
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We caught up with Langston last week to get some insight into what can go in those green bins and what can’t.
What can enter
Natrona County recycling depots have designated bins for: aluminum cans, tin cans, magazines and catalogs, newspapers and inserts, white paper, clear plastic bottles, colored plastic and corrugated cardboard (such as cardboard boxes).
The first thing Langston recommends recycling is metal.
“I will tell everyone, if you don’t recycle metals, it’s almost criminal in my mind,” she said, “because there are only a limited number of minerals in the world, and it’s one of the most reusable things ever.”
Be sure to peel off the paper labels from cans before recycling them. In addition to drink and food cans, Langston said Casper’s recycling facility at the landfill can also accept metal items such as barbecue grills, cameras and other equipment.
Cardboard boxes are also extremely easy to recycle. Just peel off whatever tape you can, then break the boxes flat to recycle. With more and more people shopping online, recycling is also a good way to get the pile of boxes out of your house.
Egg cartons, drink sleeves and brown cardboard cup holders can also go in the cardboard bin.
One of the most common questions Langston asks, she says, is about cardboard — the thin, pressed cardboard that makes up cereal or cracker boxes and many other packaging.
While there should be specific bins for cardboard by the end of the year, for now you can recycle it in the magazine bin along with toilet paper or paper towel rolls.
Other ink-heavy papers, such as flyers or brightly colored construction paper, can also be used with magazines. Paper with lighter colors or less ink can go in the white paper tray, Langston said.
Shredded paper can also go in the white paper bin, but must be wrapped in a tied plastic bag when you throw it in. If not, the wind may carry it before the truck.
Thin wrapping paper, which is often brown or off-white and found in some shipping boxes, can be recycled in the wastebasket.
Plastic items that can be recycled include clear plastic soda and beverage bottles (called #1 for the number on their bottom) and opaque or colored plastic containers for things like coconut oil. engine, bleach, detergent, gallons of milk, lotion, over-the-counter pills, and other common items (#2). Hard plastic six-pack can holders, found in many liquor stores, can also fit in trash can #2.
By the end of the year, Langston said there will be separate bins for No. 2 opaque plastic items — like motor oil and bleach containers — and items more translucent like milk jugs. But for now, they can mix in tank #2.
And for any container that held food, be sure to rinse and wipe it dry before recycling – it’s easier to deal with this way, but it also keeps bugs and bees out. the bin.
More specialized items, like batteries and electronics, including cell phones, game consoles and computers, can also be recycled at Casper’s landfill.
A complete list of accepted e-waste can be found on the city’s website, along with guidelines and frequently asked questions for all types of recycling. Any other specific questions can be directed to the Solid Waste Division at (307) 235-8246.
What can not enter
There are a few common materials that cannot be recycled in the Casper area.
The region discontinued its glass recycling service about two years ago, Langston said. There weren’t enough people recycling glass around Casper to justify the cost of transporting and processing it, she said.
There’s a bin for phone books in the city depots, but it’s a trash can.
And while most plastic bottles can be recycled, their caps often cannot. Remember to remove and discard caps and seals from beverage bottles or plastic detergent bottles and other household items before throwing the bottles in the trash.
Thin plastic containers like those for lettuce or makeup wrappers cannot be recycled at Casper.
Plastic grocery bags and newspaper sleeves cannot be recycled at city depots, but most grocery stores, including Albertson’s, Smith’s and Walmart, have containers near the front of their stores where you can recycle them.
Styrofoam containers, packaging materials and peanuts also cannot be recycled here, although Langston said there is a facility in Sheridan that can accept and process polystyrene packaging.
Follow city and crime reporter Ellen Gerst on Twitter at @ellengerst.