Get Gephardt | Stories - Good Question: Dos and Don't of Recycling
Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Good Question: Dos and Don't of Recycling
(KUTV) Here's a good question: what happens when trash gets thrown into the same bin as recycling? When you ask a good question, we give it to Matt Gephardt who, on Fridays, finds the good answer.

If you drive around just about any neighborhood on trash day you will likely see two distinct cans in front of people's homes - one for trash and the other for recycling. Residents are told not to put trash in the recycle bin because it ruins the recycling. But when all those cans are picked by the same truck, if something unrecyclable ends up in a can, it impact the whole load.

Larry Gibbons with Rocky Mountain Recycling says that the recycling, the more it is worth. Contaminants like rubber, wood, roofing tiles and fabric cannot be recycled but the damage when they get tossed in with recycling is fairly easy to contain. Contaminates like food and yard clippings, on the other hand, can drop the value of an entire recycling truck because those often mix around and contaminate otherwise clean recyclables around them.

But Larry says recyclers don't need to go overboard separating waste from recyclables. For example, he says as long as a bottle or a container of something like milk, is empty, it need not be rinsed out.

The recyclable materials are separated by Rocky Mountain Recycling and are then sold to companies which will recycle them.

"The real benefit we won't see it today," Larry said. "We'll see it years from now as we make the landfill last a lot longer."

When the Salt Lake County Landfill reaches capacity, costs to dump will likely skyrocket for county residents. Trash will need to be shipped somewhere else. That's the future, but recycling also helps save consumers money right now. According to Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling which collects curbside trash in several Utah cities, the more people recycle the lower they can keep collection and disposal fees. It costs $26 per ton to dump at the landfill but Rocky Mountain Recycling pays $25 per ton recycled. In 2012, Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling reports saving half a million dollars by taking recyclables to the facility rather than the landfill.

Thanks for the good question. If you have one you can email me at or call (801) 839-1250.

By Matt Gephardt

Photography and editing by Mike Fessler

(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)
Good Question: Dos and Don't of Recycling

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