Plastics recycling to change in Jefferson County

Only bottles, jugs beginning June 1

PORT TOWNSEND — Beginning June 1, the only plastic accepted for recycling in Jefferson County will be bottles and jugs.

No more deli, yogurt or salsa containers.

And certainly no cellophane wrap or, worse, diapers.

“The problem with mixed plastics is that as soon as you don’t have a simple message about what is accepted, everything gets thrown in there,” said Public Works Director Monte Reinders.

“It becomes a complete recyclable mess. You end up paying people to take it off your hands. Then those costs are passed on to the customer through garbage fees.”

Dairy tubs, plant pots and buckets are being sent overseas, where county officials have no way of knowing their fate, said Laura Tucker, environmental health specialist with Jefferson County.

“As soon as it leaves our shores, we don’t know where it goes,” or how it is treated, Tucker said.

It’s best to recycle domestically, but that can’t happen when material is contaminated.

Contaminated material ends up being only garbage. It can’t be recycled. It can end up in the trash in the U.S. or sold to buyers overseas. It could end up in the oceans or burned in dumps in the countries without the infrastructure to properly manage them, officials said.

“Contamination issues are primarily driven by plastics,” Tucker said.

Bottles and jugs have high levels of recyclable resins, giving them a higher value than plastics with lower resin values and a strong domestic market, according to Tucker and Reinders.

The key is that plastic recycling all has to melt at the same temperature, Tucker said.

Jefferson is one of two counties in the state that separates recycling, according to Tucker; the other one is Whatcom County.

Pioneer Recycling Services in Tacoma takes the county’s tin, aluminum and plastic, she said.

Cardboard goes to the Port Townsend paper mill and glass is sent to Seattle’s Strategic Materials, which uses it to make more containers.

“Our glass bottles become new glass bottles” instead of being ground up and added to a landfill, Tucker said.

Presentations on the recycling changes set for June are planned this month.

They are:

• An in-person meeting is set for 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at FinnRiver Cidery at 124 Center Road, Chimacum.

• An online meeting via Zoom is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. April 19.

The Zoom link is https://us06web.zoom.us/j/86587043025?pwd=UkZuTkQzZHF6bHJVVjlaM2hha011QT09. The meeting ID is 865 8704 3025. The passcode is 043676. Or participants can call in at 1-253-215-8782.

• Another online meeting is set from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. April 23.

The Zoom link is https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83779897976?pwd=RVdNQm5Ta3R3RUE1c2d5czVuQ1pxdz09. The meeting ID is 837 7989 7976. The passcode is 668859. Or participants can call in at 1-253-215-8782.

For more information on the change, see the Solid Waste webpage at https://jeffersoncountysolidwaste.com/recycle/recycling-changes.

Packing peanuts

In a separate effort, Port Townsend StyroCyclers will take Styrofoam and packing peanuts from 10 a.m. to noon Monday and April 23 at Fort Worden Battery Putnam, which is near Alexander’s Castle at 229 Alexander’s Loop.

Peanuts must be clean and dry and separated from Styrofoam. Styrofoam must be white, rigid, clean and dry. All tape, labels, paper and cardboard must be removed.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].

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