On the road again? Don’t forget to recycle.

You may be a master recycler at home, but what about when you’re on the road? Summer vacations are just around the corner. Wherever your travels might take you, be sure to reduce, reuse and recycle along the way.  Here are some helpful tips:

  • Pack it in, recycle it out Many national parks offer recycling. So whether your camping or just driving the park loop, please help keep our national parks clean and green. Photo Caption: Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National parkCheck ahead — Planning for recycling on your road trip is just as important as remembering to pack your tooth brush and phone charger. Contact the places you’ll be staying (campground, motel, resort, etc.) to find out what recycling services they offer. Once you arrive, lodging staff should be able to direct you to a recycling location on- or off-site. Another great resource is iRecycle, an app developed by Earth911 to provide recycling information and locations for the USA, and parts of Mexico and Canada. Both EnvironmentallyFriendlyHotels.com and the Green Hotel Association can help you find lodging that offers recycling.
  • Contain it — You’ll need a way to contain your recyclables and trash while you’re on the road. Bring a container (bag, bin, etc.) for each. If you’re staying someplace that doesn’t offer recycling, bring your own container to hold recyclables until you reach someplace that does.
  • Let it rot — If you compost at home, you can compost on the road, too. Take an airtight plastic container or two to store your compostables until you get back home.
  • Reduce packaging — Space is always at a premium when you’re on the road, so choose items with little or no packaging. Avoid items that are individually wrapped. If you end up with candy wrappers or chip bags, check with TerraCycle, a company that prides itself in recycling everything.
  • Leave only small “food prints” — Eating out on the road is expensive both in terms of your pocket book and energy and resources. Pre-purchase snacks, drinks and food, keep perishables in a cooler, and visit a local grocery store when you run low.
  • Go for unique souvenirs — Consider buying goods by local artists to support the local economy and buy fair trade items when available. If you’re buying gifts for others, use your old road map or a brochure as gift wrap.
  • Pack your reusable bags — Always pack a few reusable bags for souvenirs and those on-the-road grocery stops.
  • Just say no to “Would you like a box for that?” — Remember to take plastic food storage containers for your restaurant leftovers. They’re easier to pack in a cooler than flimsy takeout containers, and they keep food fresh longer.
  • Reduce, reuse, rehydrate — Take reusable mugs and bottles for all your road trip drinks.

For information on where you can take your recyclables once you get home, visit RecycleSpot.org, Kansas City metro area’s one-stop spot for recycling, reuse and waste reduction information.

Spring into recycling

Spring has sprung, which probably means you’re itching to get outdoors to clean and landscape your yard. This year, make it extra clean and green by recycling.

Mulch it over

SpringIntoRecycInstead of bagging your grass clippings and leaves, mulch them instead. Mulching provides a natural lawn fertilizer, helps prevent weed growth, conserves water, and protects waterways from stormwater-runoff pollution.

If mulching isn’t an option, you can take your lawn and garden waste to a community collection center. Some yard waste drop-off facilities also offer mulch or compost at low cost. Search RecycleSpot to find a center near you.

A number of communities also offer curbside yard waste collection in addition to regular trash and recycling services.

Search by community in RecycleSpot to see if your city is one of them (and call to verify). If you don’t have municipal leaf and brush curbside collection, there are private companies that also manage lawn refuse. RecycleSpot includes a list of many providers — contact them to find out about costs and procedures.

Spring is a great time to install a compost bin in your backyard. In addition to making a great natural fertilizer, composting is a great way to reduce the 20-30 percent of your household trash that is made up of food waste and lawn and garden waste.

They lurk in your garage

Dangerous lawn and garden chemicals put the health and safety of your family and the environment at risk. Safely dispose of hazardous chemicals through a household hazardous waste program. These programs also take paint, automotive fluids, cleaners, bug sprays, batteries, fluorescent light tubes, compact fluorescent bulbs and other household products labeled danger, warning, or caution.

Pots and trays and bags, oh my!

When you’re done landscaping, recycle your plastic planting pots, trays and landscaping product bags (packaging for mulch, topsoil and other soil amendments). After a quick rinse, pots and trays can be recycled in your curbside bin or be taken to area recycling centers. After a thorough rinse (i.e., they’re 100-percent clean and dry) landscaping product bags can be recycled with plastic bags at your local grocery or “big box” store.

For more information on recycling, visit RecycleSpot, Kansas City metro area’s one-stop spot for recycling, reuse and waste reduction information.

Congratulations to our 2016 SWMD grantees!

Photos of past grantee projects, and/or district grant priority target materials. From top to bottom: Man deconstructing a mattress, receptacles for recycling and trash, used books, woman collecting food waste, bicycles.One of the most important things the MARC Solid Waste Management District (SWMD) does is provide financial support to organizations in our region for projects that reduce the amount of material we send to landfills. The district receives funding every year from the fees collected from the state’s landfills and transfer stations. Half of that amount is used to fund local waste reduction, reuse and recycling projects through a grant program. So far this year, we have awarded more than $515,000 to eight grantees. Another $70,000 in grant funding is in the final stages of being awarded.

The 2016 grant projects so far include:

  • Access Records Management: $50,000 to provide recycling services to businesses.
  • Avenue of Life: $51,140 to support the third year of a regional mattress recycling program.
  • Bridging The Gap: $80,000 to provide one-on-one consultations and assistance to businesses interested in starting new or expanding existing recycling and composting programs.
  • Dr. Joseph Martinich: $12,984 to produce a study on the economics of recycling for the Kansas City region.
  • Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences: $9,000 to improve the campus recycling program.
  • MRC Recycling: $5,000 for a baler to manage plastic material.
  • Missouri Organic: $206,233 to support infrastructure development for the placement of a food depackaging system (equipment that separates food items from their packaging material, including plastic and cans).
  • Project Central: $101,143 to support the second year of consultations for school composting and/or recycling programs.

We are very proud of our 2016 group of grant recipients and excited about their projects. The district could not accomplish its waste diversion goals without our grantees! Visit the Solid Waste Management District’s website to learn more about the grant program.

MARC Solid Waste Management District awards luncheon recognizes regional leaders

Photo of people that accepted the MARC Solid Waste Management District's Special Recognition awards. From left, 2015 awardees Gabriella Sanders, JR Pesek, Alan Waterman and Marie Steiner.

The MARC Solid Waste Management District held its 2015 Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon on Friday, Dec. 11, at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center. Elizabeth Cline, the author of “OVERDRESSED: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” spoke about the lack of sustainability in the fast-fashion industry. The district also recognized several individuals and organizations that have made notable contributions to regional waste management and recycling efforts. See photos from the event on Flickr » The 2015 Special Recognition Award recipients include:

Individual Supporter — JR Pesek, Town and Country Disposal
The Individual Supporter award recognizes an individual who has made exceptional contributions and commitment to the district’s waste reduction and recycling efforts.
Public Employee — Jim Eldridge, Kearney, Missouri
The Public Employee award recognizes a public employee who has shown dedication to the development and advancement of waste reduction and recycling through individual achievement and commitment. Alderwoman Marie Steiner accepted the award on behalf of Jim Eldridge.
Outstanding Program — 909 Walnut
The Outstanding Program award recognizes an innovative or outstanding waste reduction or recycling program. Alan Waterman, general manager for 909 Walnut, accepted this award.
Every Little Bit Counts — Gabriella Sanders, The Greener Life Market
The “Every Little Bit Counts” award recognizes that small actions are meaningful.

Invest in “Black Gold” by composting

Compost, or “black gold” as gardeners sometimes call it, is a decayed mixture of plant waste that is used to improve soil. You can make compost from yard waste, food waste or both. As a natural fertilizer, it is one of the best investments you can make for the health and beauty of your yard and garden. It’s also a great way to reduce food and yard waste, which comprise approximately 20–30 percent of your household waste stream.

Compost has many benefits:

  • It enriches the soil, helping retain moisture and suppress plant diseases and pests.
  • It reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Composting waste instead of throwing it in the trash reduces methane emissions from landfills.
  • It lowers our carbon footprint.
  • It encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich nutrient-filled material.

Your compost investment strategy

Option A: Set up a backyard compost bin

compost black goldIf you have a yard, select a dry, shady, or partly shady spot near a water source and preferably out of neighbors’ sight. Ideally, the compost area should be at least one cubic yard in size. A pile works great for just leaves and grass clippings, but if you want to incorporate food waste, you’ll need to use a bin to prevent rodents and pets from invading.

You can build your own bin or purchase one online or at retail locations. You’ll also need a small kitchen compost bin where you can collect and store food waste before taking it to your backyard pile.

There are four types of ingredients needed to make great compost: browns for carbon, greens for nitrogen, air for organisms, and water for moisture. Visit What is composting? for a list of items you can and can’t compost and tips for mixing it right.

Option B: Set up an indoor compost bin

If you don’t have a yard, or would prefer not to set up an outdoor bin, there are two options for indoor composting: vermicomposting and bokashi composting. Vermicomposting uses earthworms to convert food waste into compost. Bokashi composting involves fermenting food waste. If you don’t have an outdoor space to use your compost, use it for houseplants, give it to friends and family members, or contact a nearby community garden.

Option C: Mulch your grass and leaves

The best food for your lawn is grass clippings and leaves. When you mow your yard, mulch the grass clippings and leaves instead of collecting them for disposal. When done properly, the mulch will quickly decompose and return nutrients to the soil naturally. Visit What is composting? for mulching tips.

Option D: Send it off-site

If you suffer from the “ick factor,” you can take your food scraps to Kansas City’s Residential Composting Program at URBAVORE and they’ll compost it for you.

You can take lawn and garden refuse to a community collection center. Some yard waste drop-off facilities also offer residents opportunities to buy mulch or compost at low cost. Search RecycleSpot to find a center near you.

A number of communities offer curbside yard waste collection in addition to regular trash and recycling services. Search by community in RecycleSpot to see if your city is one of them (and call to verify). If you don’t have municipal leaf and brush curbside collection, look for a private company that collects and manages lawn refuse. RecycleSpot includes a list of many providers; contact them to inquire about costs and procedures.

For more information on recycling, visit RecycleSpot, the Kansas City metro area’s one-stop spot for recycling, reuse and waste reduction information.

 

Foam: to recycle or not to recycle, that is the question

styrofoam-do-dont-recycle1-146x300What floats, insulates, and is 98 percent air? It’s expanded polystyrene (EPS), often mistakenly called Styrofoam™ (Styrofoam is a trademarked brand owned and manufactured by The Dow Chemical Company). But what kind — if any — can be recycled in the Kansas City metro area?

It’s labeled “6”, so it’s recyclable — right?

EPS is a #6 plastic, but only molds, blocks, coolers and packing peanuts can be recycled. Drop them off at Kansas City Community Recycling Centers and ACH Foam Technologies. In order to be recycled, EPS must be white and clean. EPS packing peanuts can also be recycled at Post Net and select locations of The UPS Store.

Any type of EPS that has had contact with food or beverages – meat trays, coffee cups, egg cartons, takeout containers, disposable plates – cannot be recycled in the metro area. Instead, purchase and use containers that are durable or recyclable.

styrofoamcollage
EPS Foam Block and EPS Foam Mold

Don’t be fooled by look-alikesstyrofoam-3-150x150

Corn starch-based packing peanuts are not accepted for recycling in the Kansas City metro area. How can you tell? If it dissolves in water, it’s corn starch. These can also be reused or composted.

styrofoam-4-ldpe.jpgstyrofoam-5-ldpe.jpg-245x300Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) packing foam is often mistaken for EPS. You can tell if it’s LDPE if it is:

  • Labeled PE-LD or LDPE with the number 4styrofoam-6-300x190
  • Squeezable
  • Bends but does not break

How is EPS recycled?

A common way to recycle EPS is through a process called densification: creating dense material from lighter material. Densification is achieved through extreme pressure, applied by hydraulic or electric rams. The air cells in the plastic foam are collapsed, resulting in a great reduction in volume. This process can make EPS foam 50 to 90 times denser. The output is usually formed into continuous, squared “logs”, which can be easily cut or broken into convenient lengths for storage or shipment.

What products are made from recycled EPS?
There are many products made from recycled EPS, including:

  • packing material
  • insulation products
  • park benches
  • door and window frames
  • crown molding
  • picture frames
  • safety helmets
  • flower pots
  • seedling containers

For more information on waste reduction and recycling, visit RecycleSpot.org or call (816) 474-4326.

Congratulations to our 2015 SWMD grantees!

One of the most important things the MARC Solid Waste Management District (SWMD) does is provide financial support to organizations in our region for projects that reduce the amount of material we send to landfills. The district receives funding every year from the fees collected from the state’s landfills and transfer stations. Half of that amount is used to fund local waste reduction, reuse and recycling projects through a grant program.

We are very proud of our 2015 group of grant recipients and excited about their projects. The district could not accomplish its waste diversion goals without our grantees!

The 2015 grant projects are:

  • Avenue of Life: $203,492 to support the second year of a regional mattress recycling program.
  • Bridging The Gap: $79,740 to provide one-on-one consultations and assistance to businesses interested in starting new or expanding existing recycling programs.
  • City of Kearney: $5,700 to purchase a container to collect electronics at the Kearney Drop-off Recycling Center.
  • Kansas City Design Center: $30,000 to design a comprehensive, appealing and convenient recycling system for downtown Kansas City.
  • Meredith Car Sales & Recycling: $19,916 to purchase a trailer and hold at least 10 electronic recycling collection events in Cass County.
  • Missouri Organic: $4,000 to purchase carts and establish a paper towel composting program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus.
  • Missouri Recycling Association: $12,000 to support costs for a keynote speaker and AV equipment at the annual recycling conference scheduled for September in Kansas City.
  • Project Central: $47,044 to work with five schools to set up recycling and/or composting programs.
  • Southeast Enterprises: $12,000 to support transportation costs associated with a regional holiday light recycling program.
  • Sleepyhead Beds: $7,000 for staffing to conduct six mattress collection events and six presentations in the region north of the Missouri River. Sleepyhead Beds holds these events to collect quality used mattresses which are sanitized and provided to children in need.
  • The Rehabilitation Institute: $80,000 to collect and divert durable medical equipment from the waste stream. Equipment is then either repaired and made available for reuse, or recycled.
  • Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity ReStore: $49,434 to provide a truck and staffing at the Lee’s Summit Resource Recovery Park to capture reusable materials before they enter the landfill.

Visit the Solid Waste Management District’s website to learn more about the grant program.