Lewis County Residents Now Required to Sort Recycling

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In a “Recycle Reset,” Lewis County will eliminate its commingled recycling program, instead requiring residents to sort their own recyclable products, and no longer accepting any more plastic jugs or bottles. The goal is to keep non-recyclables out of the mix.

Now, customers will have to sort their recyclables into containers for glass bottles and jars, corrugated cardboard (cardboard with a wavy layer), metal and mixed paper.

“When the county hauls large loads of commingled or mixed recycling away for processing, and the containers have a significant amount of garbage, it isn’t cost-effective for the processor to sort the garbage out,” said Solid Waste Utility Manager Greg Gachowsky in the release. “The entire load is typically thrown away, and we are charged for the disposal fee, plus the round-trip hauling fee, and nothing is recycled.”

At the Morton and Centralia transfer stations, color-coded recycling areas have been deployed to help with sorting: white for paper, blue for glass, brown for corrugated cardboard and gray for metal.

Additionally, the county announced that the curbside recycling program offered by LeMay Inc., from Pe Ell to Morton will no longer accept shredded paper, milk and juice cartons, or frozen food boxes. The items, according to the press release, “pose challenges to recycling sorting facilities and paper recycling mills.” 

Questions can be directed to 360-740-1451.

Here's the full press release from Lewis County: 

Recycling Changes Start in January

For Immediate Release

CENTRALIA, Wash., Dec. 21, 2020 – Beginning in January, changes will be implemented in Lewis County recycling programs, including drop-off recycling and curbside recycling, in an effort to reduce confusion about what to recycle and reduce the amount of garbage being thrown into recycling containers.

Starting on Jan. 2, the first day the transfer stations are open after the New Year’s Day holiday, “Recycle Reset” will kick off at both Lewis County transfer stations in Centralia and Morton. With Recycle Reset, plastic bottles and jugs will no longer be accepted for recycling, and the commingled recycling option – where recyclers mix the majority of their items together in one container -- will be eliminated. Customers will be required to sort their recyclables into the following containers: glass bottles and jars, corrugated cardboard, metal, and mixed paper (which will include paper bags and boxes, office and school paper, newspapers, magazines and mail).

Confusion about plastic recycling and the commingled concept has led to increasing amounts of garbage being tossed into recycling containers at Lewis County transfer stations. The hope is that the elimination of plastics recycling and the commingled container will help customers keep the recycling containers free from garbage, explained Greg Gachowsky, manager of the Lewis County Solid Waste Utility, a division of the Lewis County Public Works Department, which operates the transfer stations.

“When the county hauls large loads of commingled or mixed recycling away for processing, and the containers have a significant amount of garbage, it isn’t cost-effective for the processor to sort the garbage out. The entire load is typically thrown away, and we are charged for the disposal fee, plus the round-trip hauling fee, and nothing is recycled,” Gachowsky said. “We are hoping Recycle Reset will result in more materials actually getting recycled.”

To assist customers with Recycle Reset, both transfer stations have developed a color-coded design in the recycling areas. Customers should look for the following color combinations: white for paper, blue for glass, brown for corrugated cardboard and gray for metal.

There are also planned changes to the curbside recycling program offered by LeMay Inc. in Lewis County, from Pe Ell to Morton. While this program will continue to collect plastic bottles and jugs that are empty, clean, and dry, beginning January 1, it will no longer accept shredded paper, milk and juice cartons, or frozen food boxes. These items pose challenges to recycling sorting facilities and paper recycling mills. The shredded paper is so small it falls through the conveyor belts at recycling sorting facilities, and the wax on beverage cartons and frozen food boxes does not break down easily in the paper recycling process.

The Utility Division received a grant from the Department of Ecology to help make the recycling program changes to improve the quality of materials being dropped off or set out for recycling.

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