Republic rep makes pitch for better recycling in Griffith

Recycling hasn’t gone the way of the dodo yet, but Griffith residents are being asked to brush up on their recycling knowledge to prevent its demise.

The recycling industry is currently weathering a perfect storm of factors that make it tougher to operate, Republic Services municipal services manager Jim Metros told the Town Council during its meeting April 16. The weight of water bottles, for example, has decreased so much that they weigh as much as their caps, which it makes it more difficult to collect the tonnage needed to offset transportation costs.

An even bigger issue is that China, in an effort to clean up itself, no longer accepts recycling from the United States -- in part because Americans have forgotten the tenets of cleaning out their recyclables before putting them in the bin, but also because it’s banned “mixed” paper, such as newspaper ad inserts.

So far, Republic has been able to continue recycling the material it gets from Northwest Indiana communities and hasn’t had to raise its negotiated municipal prices, Metros said. Nor has it considered dropping recycling as other communities across the county have.

But the waste service does need to focus on creating a market for recyclables and that starts with going back to basics of learning how to recycle to get as many contaminates out of the recyclables. That means going back to the “empty-clean-dry" method of recycling and keeping recyclables to only cardboard, paper, metal cans and plastic bottles and jugs.

“We need to make recycling successful because it’s the right thing to, and we know where Americans’ hearts are,” Metros said. “We should’ve been creating a market for it 30 years ago, but it was just easier to ship it overseas.”

Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd, said the town will work with Republic to re-educate people on how to properly prepare their recyclables.

Also, the town passed on first reading an ordinance outlining solid-waste containers’ placement on the street. Garbage cans and recycling bins are to be placed either on the alley line or other easily accessible place; or adjacent to the street in an orderly way no earlier than a day before garbage day, the ordinance reads.