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County Recycling Coordinator Urges Officials, Residents To Get Back To Basics

January 18, 2019

OLYPHANT — Lacka­wanna County Recycling Coordinator Barbara Giovagnoli had a simple message Thursday for municipal officials gathered in the Queen City. Get back to the basics: “Bottles, cans and jars.” Addressing the Lacka­wanna County Association of Boroughs, Giovagnoli noted the market for recycled materials has shrunk significantly these past years. China, which Giovagnoli identified as the “No. 1 purchaser” of America’s exported recycling, closed its doors in early 2018 to imported plastic and paper waste. With global markets for certain materials evaporating, Giovagnoli warned officials they’re likely to see changes in their respective municipalities’ recycling and waste-hauling contracts in the near future, if they haven’t seen them already. Some things people may be used to recycling should no longer be placed in the bin. Because recycling programs vary from municipality to municipality, Giovagnoli said returning to the basics is an easy way to assure residents aren’t contaminating recycling streams with unwanted products. While plastic, glass and aluminum or steel cans, bottles and jars can still safely be recycled, residents should avoid recycling plastic “tubs,” such as yogurt cups or margarine containers, as there’s no longer a market for them, she said. Other items — including plastic bags, straws, food wrappers, dishes, cups, glasses and utensils — cannot be recycled. Officials should encourage residents to properly prepare bottles, cans and jars for recycling by rinsing them to remove any food, drink or debris, Giovagnoli said. Shredded paper can be recycled, but should be placed in a clear plastic bag, while newspapers, magazines, catalogs and phone books should be placed in a bundle or brown paper bags. Contaminated materials going to market are “crashing markets,” Giovagnoli said, suggesting people avoid single-stream recycling when possible. While important, Clarks Green Mayor Patty Lawler said it can be hard to pass along the information Giovagnoli shared Thursday to the residents actually putting out the recycling. She suggested public service announcements, possibly in the form of billboards or radio spots, to get the message out. For the time being, residents can access recycling information online at recyc ling.lackawannacounty.org. Contact the writer: jhorvath@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9141; @jhorvathTT on Twitter

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