Things to know about recycling on American Recycling Day

America Recycles Day: Learning the importance & impact of recycling
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 4:45 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2023 at 5:13 PM CST
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - On American Recycling Day, November 15, Heartland Afternoon went behind the scenes at the City of Cape Girardeau’s recycling center.

Mike Tripp, the solid waste superintendent, said they average close to 30 tons of recycling a week, just on their pickup route.

“It takes a lot of plastic bottles and a lot of newspapers to make up that type of tonnage,” said Tripp.

He said recycling is important because it slows down trash collection in landfills. Once that option is spent, the country will have to find another way to get rid of trash.

That’s where recycling centers come in, giving people a place to put their sorted recyclable materials. However, Tripp said people don’t always use the center appropriately.

“We get so many residents that decide, ‘Here, this recycling cart is for trash as well.’ When we’re out on the routes, as we dump the cart, you can see the trash that comes into the recycling, and then by the time it gets into the shop, a lot of that recycling we have to take out and throw in the trash, unfortunately.”

Tripp said not all plastic is recyclable. Things like milk jugs, soda bottles and other food packaging are acceptable at the Cape Girardeau center, but other items are not.

“We get people bringing in mail boxes, or siding, or water hoses. We’ve had a bowling ball come through,” said Tripp.

He said more people bring in trash to get it out of their house than bring recyclable materials. He recommended visiting the city of Cape’s website to see a full list of accepted materials, along with pickup times and other general information.

When it comes to making the choice to start recycling, Tripp said it’s a good thing to do, but only if you commit to doing it right.

“If you’re not doing it properly, you’re just wasting your time and wasting our time, because unfortunately we have to throw it away. And all those people that are doing it correctly, you’re ruining their time as well.”