Alexis Alloway encouraged people to focus more on the reduce and reuse components of the three R’s. PHOTO COURTESY OF BIG SKY SNOW FACEBOOK PAGE

Community recycling day

Glass and e-waste services offered

Big Sky Sustainability Network Organization (SNO) is hosting a community recycling day from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on May 14 at the tennis court parking lot of the Big Sky Community Park. Glass bottles and jars, yard waste, scrap metal and electronic waste are accepted for this event.

Alexis Alloway, municipal contract administrator with Republic Services—a solid waste company—and member of SNO’s waste committee, explained the reason for the glass and e-waste focus was due to the fact that these are two hard-to-recycle items.

E-waste is difficult to recycle for a couple of reasons, Alloway said. Electronic devices are made up of over a dozen components that are not meant to be disassembled and often contain toxic materials that are not safe to recycle. Planned obsolescence, or the short lifespan intentionally designed for many electronics, is an issue as well

“We have, like, a pandemic of e-waste in this country,” Alloway said, and provided that 4 million devices are disposed of in the United States each year. For Saturday’s event, 406 Recycling out of Helena will be offering the e-waste service.

Alloway encouraged people to be mindful consumers to combat the e-waste issue.

“It’s great that we occasionally can recycle some of this stuff, but ultimately reduce and reuse are so much more important because recycling does have limitations like sorting technology, economic limitations and market or transportation limitations, and not every product can be recycled over and over again,” Alloway said.

Quality over quantity, essentially, is the mantra to stick to. “As a consumer, just thinking about, okay what product can I buy that I’m going to most likely use for the longest amount of time?” Alloway said.

Glass is finnicky to recycle mainly due to transportation to the nearest glass recycling facility, which for Big Sky is Salt Lake. Alloway explained that glass weighs about ten times as much as a similar volume of plastic or cans and it has to be shipped to Salt Lake to process. This can result in expensive shipping costs, which is why the SNO-sponsored event is also accepting scrap metal with the hope that selling the scrap metal later will offset recycling costs.

Alloway reminded individuals that recycling is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Companies that collect recyclables sell those products to manufacturers who repurpose them. “It exists because these are really valuable materials that we should not be sending to the landfill,” she said.

Additionally, glass can become a contaminant to other recyclables in large facilities. Broken shards or glass sediment can stick to paper or cardboard and compromise the integrity of an entire load.

Beyond being mindful consumers, Alloway explained that taking recycling and reusability concerns right to the source is beneficial. Do your homework, she said, and let companies know what you think about their packaging or shipping methods and support those that align with your values. Write complaints to electronic manufacturers about planned obsolesce. It makes a change, she pointed out. Have you noticed certain brands switching to less wasteful packaging in the past few years?

Larger businesses or organizations looking to drop off electronics are asked to register before May 14 with 406 Recycling. This lets 406 know what size of trailer will be needed to haul everything back to Helena. Call 406-449-6008 to preregister.

Volunteers are requested for the event to help guide traffic flow and ensure that materials get into the right containers. Call Alloway at 406-579-2205 or email her at aalloway@republicservices.com to sign up.

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