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What to do with your mess of paper products

January 12, 2019

With the holidays over and done now, I wonder if anyone’s dining room looks as awful as mine. There are stacks upon stacks of cardboard boxes full of cake mix boxes, cereal boxes, Kleenex boxes and piles of gift wrapping paper. Our dining room had a literal wall where you couldn’t enter unless you maneuvered these boxes full of paper products around.

Why keep such a mess in your house?

The answer is very simple. The Green Fiber bins around town have been pretty full. This is the service I utilize for paper recycling. In knowing they were crammed full of everyone else’s paper products, I held off and just closed down our dining room to hold off until there was some space for what seems like my mountain of stuff. I have received several calls from residents having the same dilemma as mine. But I spoke with the plant manager of Green Fiber and he reassured me that Columbus is still being serviced, adding that company officials are emptying the containers on a regular basis.

Green Fiber is based out of Norfolk and provides the containers free of charge to organizations and businesses to obtain paper products that they, in turn, repurpose for their cellulose insulation business. Their route takes them through Albion, Clarkson, Columbus, Creston, Howells, Humphrey, Leigh and Madison. Currently, company officials come through Columbus three times a week to service various containers in our area. In my last conversation with Dennis, of Green Fiber, he mentioned the company was going to add a fourth day for Columbus. So if your home looks like a paper disaster as mine did, thank you for your patience. I was able to go out and recycle my paper products on Monday. While doing so, I had to dig in the container to get plastic bags out. I pulled out products that were not recyclable. This made me realize some people must not know the rules of these containers.

Why can’t I leave the paper in plastic bags?

Well, the paper products are not hand sorted by people because this would be too labor intensive. Products are sorted and shredded on belts, so when you put your items in plastic bags and place them in containers they are dumped and sorted with the plastic still on there. This clogs up the equipment, wasting more time and more labor to fix the machine and throw away the plastic.

Why can’t I leave my materials on the side of the container if they are full?

There’s a simple answer to this also. It’s because they are paper products and we live in Nebraska. Our weather has a mind of its own that does not comply with any rules. The odds of it staying dry and not getting blown away are slim to none. Neighbors of that area complain of littered yards from the debris and the recycling company cannot accept wet products, so it gets landfilled and that defeats the purpose of bringing it to the recycling container.

If you have any questions on items accepted, there are several signs on the containers with simple do’s and don’ts, or give us a call. Wishing you health and happiness in 2019.

Vanessa Oceguera is the executive director of Keep Columbus Beautiful. Her column will be published in The Columbus Telegram every second Friday of the month.

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