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Pearland Recycling Trends -How Do You Fit In?

Pearland Recycling Trends -How Do You Fit In?

How do you compare to the average person in America?  Do you waste more? Recycle more? Divert more? Compost more? In Pearland for the fiscal year 2012-2013 that ended September 2013 here is what an average month of recycling data looked like:

  • 28565.5 Annual residential account billings
  • 875 Annual commercial account billings
  • 29440.5 Total account billings
  • 24.58333333 Customer complaints received
  • 229.1666667 Commodities recycled at curbside (in tons)
  • 266.6666667 Green waste recycled at curbside (in tons)
  • 495.8333333 Total recycled at curbside
  • 2500 At-Your-Door total pounds HHW collected
  • 43.75 At-Your-Door number of stops
  • 5000 Solid Waste land filled (in tons)
  • 28565.5 Households served

Here in Pearland over the past 4 years our diversion rate has gone up and down but doesn’t nearly approach the national average of 34.5% diversion.  Here is our diversion rate for curbside collections:

  • 7.6% diversion FY 2010
  • 8.3% diversion FY 2011
  • 8.0% diversion FY 2012
  • 9.0% diversion FY 2013

Here is our diversion rate combining curbside collections with what is collected at the Stella Roberts Recycling Center:

  • 8.5% diversion FY 2010
  • 9.2% diversion FY 2011
  • 9.0% diversion FY 2012
  • 10.0% diversion FY 2013

Although we are not doing as well as the national average we are increasing our rate of diversion faster than our population is growing.  We are diverting about 10% of our solid waste in tons but we can do better!  Environmental education is one of Keep Pearland Beautiful’s major focus areas.  But given that we are so far below the national average there has to be more that KPB can do to change the way people think about recycling.  To change the way our community thinks about recycling the average person has to know what is recyclable, and they must understand the ultimate consequences of not recycling despite the fact that we won’t realize those for many years to come.

As the number of open landfills decreases we will have fewer options for burying our waste.  The U.S. currently is estimated to run out of landfill space in 40-50 years.  We have space for more landfills, but no one wants a landfill in their backyard.  Shipping waste further and further away to get rid of it will increase the price of getting ready rid of our trash.  There are now waste into energy technologies and as the price of landfill increases these technologies will become more economically feasible.  But by simply recycling everything we can and composting or mulching our green and yard waste we can increase the lifespans of our landfills.

Insight into what people think about recycling can be gained by asking just a few questions.  KPB did an unofficial poll of customers at a Pearland restaurant.  Many people still believe that recycling is difficult; that you have to separate things and have no idea that most of what they are discarding is recyclable.

A drive through a Pearland neighborhood on recycling day tells the rest of the story.  Only 1 out of 6 houses had a recycling bin in front of their house.  Recycling has gotten to be so easy, but most folks don’t know it.  How do we get this message to the average family?  Most of what is put out for the garbage man is really recyclable or yard waste.   If we all did our part most of our solid waste can be diverted from landfill through consistent recycling and diverting green waste by putting it out for the green truck.

Most of our solid waste is packaging of some sort.  As long as this packaging is clean it is recyclable curbside.  Metal cans (steel, tin and aluminum), plastics (1-7 but not 6), glass, and all paper and cardboard including cartons like milk cartons are recyclable curbside.  The only things not recyclable curbside in Pearland are plastic bags & plastic film and #6 polystyrene plastics.  For a complete list of what is recyclable curbside visit (http://keeppearlandbeautiful.org/recycling-waste/curbside/).

Don’t throw away plastic bags (and other plastic films), they can be recycled by stuffing them all in a plastic shopping bag and dropping them in the plastic bag drop off at several area stores including: HEB Plus!, Walmart, Target, Kroger, Randalls, Lowe’s, and Sam’s Club.  Plastic film includes plastic shopping bags, ziplock bags,  dry cleaner bags, the packaging wrap around your toilet paper or paper towel rolls, bubble wrap and newspaper sleeve bags.

Yard waste and trimming recycling is very easy to do.  To participate, residents should place grass, leaves, flowers, stalks, stems and trimmings in a translucent (semi clear) bag at curbside on their collection day (typically the second trash day of the week. The weight of the bag should not exceed 35 pounds. Tree limbs and branches should be cut no longer than five feet in length and tied in bundles no larger than 18 inches in diameter and no heavier than 50 pounds.

recycling graph 2013

We are doing better, even if we are below the national diversion rate.  The recycling rate at Stella Roberts Recycling Center and curbside in the City of Pearland has outpaced what can be attributed to population growth alone. The increase at Stella Roberts Recycling Center has been 10 times that of the population increase.

Don’t have a recycling bin?  Need a second bin because your bin is overflowing? Don’t panic there is a simple solution! Any bin about 18 gallons in size can be used as a recycling bin.  Use a permanent marker to write “Recycling” on the bin and to write your address on it in case it should blow down the street.

Do you need to know your recycling and yard waste pick up days? Use the City of Pearland property search function to find out when your pick up days are for trash and recycling (http://gisweb2.ci.pearland.tx.us/web/index.cfm) and put your address in the fields in the top right corner.

People in multifamily dwellings and others in Brazoria County without curbside recycling can drop theirs off at Stella Roberts Recycling Center, 5800 Magnolia, Pearland, TX  77584.  Recycling rates at the center have increased yearly at a rate higher than our population growth.  The same commodities that can be recycled curbside can be dropped off there during their normal operating hour (Monday – Friday   8:00AM – 5:00 PM) and Saturdays 9:00AM – 1:00PM.

Visit http://keeppearlandbeautiful.org/recycling-waste/recycling-center/ for more information about the recycling center.

After America Recycles Day on November 15, 2013 Keep America Beautiful reported that 48,725 people pledged to recycle more.   If everyone in Pearland does that as well we will get closer to our goal of a 36% diversion rate for the City of Pearland.

If you would like someone to come and speak to your classroom or civic group about recycling, litter or how you can help Keep Pearland Beautiful please call 281-652-1659 or 281-652-1779.

 

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