Recycling With Realism (And Without Grease)

Republic Services, which has been in charge of garbage collection and recycling in Corvallis since 2008, wants Corvallis residents to recycle everything that can be recycled—and not a single greasy pizza box or vinyl retail package more.

As it turns out, it does no good to look at something and say, “Well, it ought to be recyclable.”  If you throw that item into the recycling bin, the entire truckload (or more) will have to be shoveled out and sent to the landfill.

It would be nice if pizzas could be delivered in plastic boxes. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be such a thing available.  I know, because I Googled it.  All I found were plastic storage boxes and large insulated plastic delivery boxes… and a LEGO set that came with a plastic pizza box. Oh, too bad, but that’s life.

On the other hand, there is now something you can do with pizza boxes and other paper products contaminated with food waste: you can put them (along with other food waste) in your yard waste bin.  Yes indeed, you can have a yard waste bin even if you don’t have a yard – just ask Republic Services for one, and they’ll leave a tan cart for you.  Just be careful not to put chicken bones or the like in there until it is about to go out for collection, as any local stray cats or raccoons are liable to get in there, cause a mess, and possibly choke on splinters.

There are some things which you can’t leave out for Republic’s recycling truck, but which you can bring to their recycling center at 110 NE Walnut Blvd.  They have a row of big blue receptacles for scrap metal and defunct electronics, as well as the usual glass and paper.

Republic doesn’t have any way to dispose of plastic bags, but Fred Meyer and WINCO have barrels you can put them in, at the entrance to their stores.  Those are about the only places in town I know of where you can get rid of the things.  Fortunately, they don’t use plastic grocery bags in Corvallis anymore.

There are some things which neither Republic Services nor anyone else can do anything with-—styrofoam, aseptic containers, and paper coffee cups.  The best thing you can do is try to avoid buying them.  Carry a reusable coffee cup with you, buy your broth in metal cans, and tell the sandwich maker to wrap your lunch in paper and not bother with the plastic bag.  Develop good buying habits and you’ll be surprised how little winds up in your garbage bin.


By John M. Burt