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Rural recycling, how to?  RSS feed

 
Deb Rebel
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Took it off another thread to here.

I have lived in some large urban areas and now live 'in town' but very rural. I have seen recycling efforts fall through in larger urban areas that should have been able to support it and needed to. I have visited high density major cities/population zones that make recycling mandatory (the trash receptacles are labeled and you have to 'sort your trash' in public areas).

Recycling is not free, it takes resources to handle the post consumer waste and get it to where someone can process it. In places that it's not even remotely possible to support an active community recycling system; what can we do to deal with that trash stream?

Personally, I try to reuse things at least once... such as gallon milk jugs and water containers, the cardboard I use for mulching for weed control, and paper with soy based ink-I turn into firelogs. I unravel old sweaters and recrochet into stuff, I mend clothes, (and do various things to hide repairs, stains, and restyle old items), make rag rugs, etc. Plus compost.

What can you suggest?
 
Tyler Ludens
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If you have friends or relatives in urban areas with recycling, you might be able to bring some of your stuff to them.  We don't have toxic waste handling in our area, so we take our old batteries, etc to my Dad in town so he can turn it in to the urban hazardous waste system.

Otherwise everything goes to the dump, which costs $$.  Many neighbors burn their toxic trash on "burn piles" every time it rains, which makes it difficult to breathe. 

 
Deb Rebel
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Where I grew up, the days of the week were sorted out to do certain things. Tuesday was wash day and all the wash would go out on the lines. One neighborhood gal decided she could burn off her trash barrel whenever she liked, so a few weeks in a row she zotted everyone's wash with her sooty chunks. Some brought it up with her and she kept doing it. So it was watched for when she was hanging and about half a dozen barrels got toted/rolled upwind and lit. She got her cottons flecked up good and never did it again. There was weekly trash pickup, but. You still burned your barrel to get rid of burnables and compact what went to the dump.

Here I use gallon milk and drinking water jugs (they quit the refillable Reverse Osmosis jugs, I used to haul 5 gallon reusable jugs) as plant cloches (cut out the bottom, can uncap the top for warm days....) or fill for heatsinks in hoop houses and cold frames, cut the top out to handle liquids or gather cuttings or harvest things.

To haul batteries to a place that does hazardous disposal is five hours... The parts store will handle vehicle batteries and if you're not exchanging for 'core' it is roughly $5 per battery.

I do use CFL and fluorescents, and purchase mercury free; and am making a switch to LED as the technology is starting to inch into affordable. This also saves energy used.

Glass is harder, but I have learned to form and blow glass, make marbles, and once I can afford a 'glory hole' can reuse SOME of the glass that passes this way. Still doing the breakdown on what the energy to heat the glass up to melt, handle it, and anneal it, will run.

Getting people to pay attention to the packaging of the products they buy, and finding a post consumer use for that packaging will do a lot. As well as teaching people the value of making soup and composting....

Old tires, there is a greenhouse in the next state that shreds and burns tires to heat their greenhouses, but. Other than turning them into planters, tire swings, or an earthship house, also have to be disposed of.

There is a sort of community in the south part of Colorado Springs where people built earthship homes. I became friends with someone that built one, then sold it. She said two adults working HARD for 8 hours, could ram/pound 3 tires. Places paid them 50c to 1.00 a tire to take them away. She never wanted to see a tire or a post maul again.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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I'd have jumped over here sooner but rural internet signals are like a roller coaster sometimes. Waiting!

I need to better understand what makes recycling systems work in some areas in order to analyze why they don't in other areas. Maybe someone here can enlighten me.

I do think if the postal service picked up unwanted (junk or read and otherwise discarded) mail on their usual routes, there would be no extra driving, on the part of the public, to take it somewhere. There are companies (used to work for one, but before they offered shredding services) that shred and recycle paper that could make a stop at area post offices part of their daily route. Rural areas where recycling bins are not provided would be less likely to send this paper to the landfills. What am I missing here?
 
Deb Rebel
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How much it would cost in extra logistics. If you are within an hour of an urban center large enough to have active recycling (Denver greater metro at 1.5 or so million could not sustain it in the 1990's) it might be possible, but. In truly rural areas the issue is getting the stuff back out to where it can be processed. Hence more of an emphasis to get everyone to look at their own trash stream and reduce it.

It's true the mail service gets out to the rural areas but everything costs... and deadheading trash back isn't free. Poundage causes wear and tear, eats fuel, and needs to be handled. Which causes more work and it's not exactly cheap to pay someone these years. Plus storing it. Then having it fetched, hauled, and processed. If you are a population corridor such as California or the East Coast, it is a lot easier to get to a recycling effort and more sustainable
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I need to better understand what makes recycling systems work in some areas in order to analyze why they don't in other areas. Maybe someone here can enlighten me. 
  This is the way I have had it described. If you live really rural, or at least the area that you live in has some smaller population centers but happens to be not very close to a larger center, then the cost of trucking the various individual materials, to the sorting location, and then to their final destination has increased to the point that the recycling entities do not feel that it justifies collecting it.

The closest town closed it's bottle depot recently much to the boos of many locals, but the non profit corporation who runs it said that their just wasn't enough flow to warrant the operation, even though locals were willing to volunteer space and time to make it happen, and now only the liquor store will take the alcohol bottles back, but nobody is accepting other beverage returnables.  Fortunately, the next closest town still has it's Return it Center which also recycles electronics.

In the hamlet I live in, there is an area with trash bins for people to bring their crap, but there is also a cardboard bin, and a bin for milk jugs and tin cans. 

In addition to these, my hamlet also has a Free Shed (as do the two local village centers mentioned above).  Inside the shed people place things that are still in reasonably good condition, but that they know longer want.  It's a way for people to recycle almost anything, non-perishable (and I have seen canned goods, and packaged dried seaweed, and cookies!)  My favorite are the wool sweaters, boots, and books.  I have gotten plenty of kitchen ware, weights, and sporting equipment and even Art in the shed.  If you have the initiative to get one going in your community (maybe someone will donate a shed, as what happened with ours)... I would highly recommend it.  The building could also be constructed in a weekend work bee

I had a friend who started a free store down on a small Island off Vancouver Island, by simply taking an old wooden box that he's found at the dump, bringing it to the post office and throwing a sweater in it, with a paper sign tacked onto it that simply said "Free".  The box exploded with a volume of products and eventually a building was constructed and it is now staffed by volunteers.       
 
Deb Rebel
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We have something close to that. Our local thrift store is the county sheltered workshop so it is partly grant run. Not free but a lot of stuff goes through there. A free bin here would just detract from their good work...
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Considering mail only, since the mail carriers are in those less populated areas most days of the week anyway, a system that recycles mail would be sort of like function stacking. Then recycling entities could stop at the post office and pick up large amounts in one location.

"then the cost of trucking the various individual materials, to the sorting location, and then to their final destination has increased to the point that the recycling entities do not feel that it justifies collecting it."

Then, the trucking has mostly been done, it's no longer individual materials, it's already sorted (unless paper is sorted into sub categories) and it's ready for final destination. Maybe then recycling entities would justify collecting it. Maybe?

Hey, I like the Free Shed idea. In many places dumpster diving is illegal (and you're on candid camera). I think it would have to do with liability. The Free Shed would solve that.
 
Deb Rebel
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Karen Donnachaidh wrote:Hey, I like the Free Shed idea. In many places dumpster diving is illegal (and you're on candid camera). I think it would have to do with liability. The Free Shed would solve that.


I have dumpster dived for over forty years, urban and not. Unless legislated (aka a law) to the contrary, these are the "rules" I have used:

1) You are entirely at your own risk. Period. You might find sharps, used condoms, used diapers, vomit, rats, etc. The place that owns the dumpster is totally not liable. You get hurt it's YOUR problem.
2) The dumpster must be in open access at all times (not locked up) on publically accessable turf (aka behind the building on the alley for example). No trespassing onto private turf.
3) No dumping. (no putting anything in there that wasn't already in there)
4) Clean up after yourself. You took it out you put it back.
5) Nothing proprietary. (no old bills, tax stuff, etc)
6) No blocking the right of way, or access to the building. If it is marked no parking you may NOT park there.
7) If the trash collection shows up you're outta there.
8 ) If it's the donation pile (incoming not heading to the landfill) then it's totally off-limits.
9) Keep it down. Watch the noise you make.
10) If whoever owns the dumpster indicates they'd rather not have you dive, and remember to keep the discussion POLITE, you're outta there.
11) It goes without saying but no graffiti, defacing stuff, or damaging the dumpster or the surrounding area.

One place did slumped glass and I would collect stained glass scrap on the day they unlocked the dumpster for the trashman. I did stained glass work and they would be tossing $50 a square foot bullseye glass scraps and some would approach 4"x4" which were certainly useable by me. I did talk to the owner one day and a) I wasn't putting anything IN the dumpster. b) I totally understood how dangerous glass was, my spouse was often there and I wouldn't let him handle anything. c) I was totally on my own if I got hurt. d) I left the place neater than I found it usually. He granted me permission to come on Tuesdays and dive. (the day he unlocked the dumpster).

So it depends on where you live.  (edit to remove an unintentional emoji)
 
Anne Miller
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Deb Rebel wrote:Recycling is not free, it takes resources to handle the post consumer waste and get it to where someone can process it. In places that it's not even remotely possible to support an active community recycling system; what can we do to deal with that trash stream?  ...
What can you suggest?


I recently checked into the price to rent a dumpster.  My thinking was that they would deliver a dumpster, then several months later they would pick it up.  They wanted $120.00 a month plus $$$ when they dumped it.

Our locale post office has a bookshelf where people can exchange books.  And they allow people to put up notes for things they want to sell.

I doubt that our Postmaster would consider having the carriers to pick up stuff on their routes as they use their own autos and don't want to get out of their vehicles.  They just want to open the mail boxes and put the mail inside.  Plus they are either women or elderly men.

Where I live there is no organized recycling, except for paper and electronics.  Once a years they have an electronic recycling day.  I don't know anything about it as I have never participated.

In order for rural recycling to work, first there needs to be a place to store the stuff.  Maybe a parking lot of an unused building. Someone needs to get the owners permission.  Secondly, there needs to be access to a big truck to take the stuff to the larger recycling center. 3rd, bins would need to be built to put the stuff in. There is a need for a lot of volunteers. People to man the recycling area, people to make sure that the right items are put where they are suppose to be. Then people are needed to load the truck and a driver to haul the items to the larger recycling center.

It might be that a town could work a deal with the recycling company to pick up the recycled items for a fee.

I'm not saying it can't be done.  There just needs to be a lot of people wanting the same thing to make it happen.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Same mailbox, divider inserted to separate in/out mail and mail to be picked up for recycling (2 sections). If it wasn't delivered to you in this same box then it can't be recycled in this system. No exiting the vehicle. They delivered it, I didn't ask for it, I don't want it, take it back and have it recycled. Maybe the post office could purchase their recycled cardboard mailing boxes cheaper if they are contributing to system that creates them and pass the savings on to the customer. Well, that might be stretching it.
 
Rus Williams
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https://preciousplastic.com/en/machines/

Here's a video. While I recognise that plastic for many falls under the heading of toxic gick, it's also true that plastic is incredibly useful, and that this effort has many permaculture halmarks. Turning the problem into a solution, waste is an unused resource, small and local solutions. It's also totally open source with blueprints, this is a mature and realistic project that anyone with a modicum of skills could make happen.




I know I've posted this before, but I really like what this guy is doing.
 
C. Letellier
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I am rural WY and about as far from the big city a virtually anyone here.  The community does recycling.  Newspaper, clean office paper and clean cardboard boxes they have drop bins for scattered around town.  Also have aluminum can bins around town.  We don't do glass.  We used to do plastic sort of but the recycling companies won't take it currently unless you pay so we are no longer doing that one.(they didn't pay previously but it at least didn't cost)  Casper which is 4 hours from me used to recycle glass but the company that brought in the sorter to do it was charging something like $50k each time they brought the sorter in.  So Casper now just piles the glass, crushes it with a dozer and mixes it with asphalt for road mix.  Steel cans no one locally is collecting.  The big city recycling centers will take them and pay a really tiny amount if you have enough.

Clean plastic grocery bags the local thrift store can't get enough of so I drop the good ones there.  Damaged bags the local shopko runs a drop off point for a couple of times a year.

Clothing if good goes to the thrift store.  If junk it mostly makes rags.  Jeans there is a gal locally who makes quilt tops from jean legs if the fabric is still good so some go to her.

Now what I would like to do with plastics might be stupid but I am trying to figure out how to make it work.  We have a small canal that because of its length loses about 50% to shrink when the weather is really hot.  What if we could put it in pipe?  At something like $10 million per mile for over 50 miles of canal there is no way to ever make that work.  But what if the canal provided its own power to do it and the raw material was free.  Gather HDPE for recycling and use the fall of the canal to slow extrude the pipe.  I checked with the local grocery store and in milk jugs alone they sell enough to equal 80,000 lbs of HDPE per year.  Now milk jug plastic will need some things added to it to make good pipe but it is doable.  Say we could get just 1/4 of that per year.  That is still 10 tons of plastic raw material per year.  Add in all the other common food grade source of HDPE available locally and I am sure it is reachable.  Along the canal we have a number of checks that drop 4 to 6 feet each.(Heck within 4 miles of me there are nearly a dozen of them)  Going by me at allotment is roughly 50 cfs which dropping that height for a single drop equals about 22 hp.  If I could tap even 1/4 of that, that is 4000 watts of power that runs 6 months of the year steady state.  There is my power to melt plastic and power an extruder.  We wouldn't make much pipe per year but if we could simply pipe our worst seepage stretches we could reduce water loss.  In one place if we could run 300 to 400 ft of pipe we could take nearly 1 1/2 mile out of the canal.  Since that stretch contains 4 drop structures we could pick up 16 feet of fall from just the drop structure  and more from the fact that the canal drops along that distance.  Now we might have enough for a small hydro plant.
 
Hans Quistorff
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The way it works here is that they have to transport the wast over the mountain range to find a legal place to bury it. Then they have to pay to bury it. Therefor it is less expensive to haul the recycle to the processors even if the payment  for the material is less than the transport cost. If it was still legal to bury trash around Puget sound we would not have the recycle bins

The way it has been working for me is it takes about 2 weeks to fill a bag that fills up th back seat of our small car and I can sort it into the bins at the solid wast station. About every 4 months my garbage cans are full of little bits like lids packaging and I put them in a utility trailer and take the larger solid wast center where they charge by weight. I am usually just under the minimum which costs me $27. Which is a big savings over once a week pick up. The glass is only accepted at the solid wast sites because it is so dangerous when broken and they no longer sort it by color because it all gets ground up to become sand again. 
 
Anne Miller
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I liked that video, he has the equipment to do what he is doing that most people don't have.

Karen, most post offices that I have been to have a trash bin where you can drop your unwanted mail into.  You might approach your postmaster to see what they think about your idea.

I posted what I do on another thread.  It's not recycling because I have no place to recycle, but I handle my trash like I was recycling.  And I have no trash service to get rid of the trash that goes to the dump.

"It took me about a year to get a system that works for me.  I read about zero waste, recycling, etc to try to figure it out.  I handle it like I was going to recycle.  Cans are rinsed before putting in the kitchen trash.  Glass jars are washed and dried in case they are needed.  Paper and cardboard are placed in the office trash. I am glad we don't generate a lot of trash but could never do zero waste."

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Thanks Anne. I'll do that. And, kudos to you, you're a recycling renegade!
 
Steve Lansing
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I am happy this topic came up. It is a pet peave of mine. I am big into the three Rs, reduce, reuse, recycle. Not that I enjoy government  regulation, but they could help the trash stream with encouragement  of less packaging. Ok, so that helps to reduce. Also, post office should have a list of those that do not want  flyers or if rural areas get flyers, take them back for disposal after reading.

Now for reuse. Ok, I will brief here, because there are web sites and entire books on making items from the waste stream. One favorite is tires. First, you are charged $5 or more to dispose at tire shop, so that costs. Second, in rural areas you see them tossed out. So many things can be made from them. My favorite are playground animals the kids can play on. Another thought is paper trash. I burn mine and reuse in garden to keep bugs away and when it rains it washes into soil and goes back to nature. Be sure to remove plastic windows from bills.

Recycle. Now I have read that 98% of everything can be recycled. Ok, but what about very rural. Four thoughts. 1. This is what I do. I save time and money by condensing my shopping trips. At some point, you need to head to town, it is then I take my car full of recycling. 2. Speak to local government nd try to create awareness. Put the monkey on their back to help the citizens with ideas or tax breaks for a business. 3. business opportunity,  are you out of work or under employeed, start a non-profit and be the change in your county. 4. work with others to create a co-op for taking recyclying to city.

Ok, so there are a few thoughts. Hope they help someone.
 
Rus Williams
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Anne Miller wrote:I liked that video, he has the equipment to do what he is doing that most people don't have.



That's the thing though. There are blueprints on the site to build the equipment. All free. If you go to this page
https://preciousplastic.com/en/videos/build/shredder/

you'll find the file dowloads detailing everything you need to build it, and the how-to videos to make it.
For example this shredder will cost about 200 bucks in materials, and take about 4 days to build.


EDIT: Sorry I misunderstood.

Would there be any money in starting a small scale recycling collection operation? Or are the amounts you are looking at too small for that?



 
Joseph Lofthouse
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My general approach to recycling, is that I don't have to recycle waste that isn't generated in the first place... So when I make and bottle my own wine, there are no paper or plastic bags to deal with. The bottles are reused every year. If I make my own vinegar, then waste bottles are not created, because I reuse the same bottles over and over.

If I take a bag or box with me to the store, then that doesn't generate bags to be recycled.

If I just pile vegetables into my grocery cart rather than bagging them, there are no bags to recycle. If I buy vegetables in bulk rather than in bags, then there is nothing to recycle.

If I buy whole foods rather than packaged foods, then that minimizes trash.

 
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