30 April 2019
The three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle.
Often time the first two, most important, R’s of this system are forgotten, leaving the chance of sustainability to the last R: recycling. Despite the recent increase in environmentally friendly awareness, this third R is often forgotten too, further decreasing an individual’s chances to act responsibly.
This is, in part, due to hard-to-understand systems the regulate city-wide recycling and the even harder to find information that tells people what they actually can and cannot recycle.
These hard to understand systems and the complex problems they create can be seen especially well in Colorado Springs.
Eco Cycle, creators of The State of Recycling in Colorado: 2018, shared that Colorado created a record 9,307,000 tons of waste in 2017, but only recycled approximately 12 percent of this waste, which is 13 percent below the national average.
This might be caused by the confusion of what items to recycle and what items cannot be recycled, due to the recent changes Bestway Disposal has made to their policies: some of the items that could have been recycled previously are not allowed anymore and some new items have been accepted that weren’t allowed before.
These changes have led to individuals accidentally recycling the wrong items, like plastic bags or bottles that have too much liquid in them, which further increases the number of contaminated recyclables collected and diminishes the number of items the city can actually use.
One other common reason more people don’t recycle is the cost associated with the service.
Although the cost of recycling in Colorado Springs is about five to 10 dollars a month, many believe that this is too high of a price and they should actually be the ones being paid for recycling.
In order to curb these disputes, the city, in partnership with Bestway Disposal, could add a label to the bins that include a list of the items that can be recycled and the items that cannot.
They could still charge individuals to recycle but offer them a tax incentive or allow them to recycle some of their items, like glass or plastic bottles, for a small profit every month.
One final solution is to increase public awareness about the overall importance of recycling, as it can help divert waste from landfills, save energy, increase state revenue and slowly, but surely, help combat greenhouse gas emissions.
Until practices like the ones listed above are implemented, begin to reduce, reuse and research the list of items the city accepts on Bestway Disposal FAQ page and either continue to or start recycling, regardless of the price, in order to help the environment.