Recycling 101: Your questions about what — and where — to recycle answered

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BUCKHANNON – Like many people, you may have questions about what, where and when to recycle.

Luckily, we have answers. And couldn’t we all use a brush-up on what can – and can’t – be recycled and the locations at which it can and can’t be recycled?

In doing some research, we’ve discovered Upshur County residents have a few different options to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Burl Smith, director of the Upshur County Solid Waste Authority, said Upshur County has comprehensive recycling program, and the City of Buckhannon Waste Collection Department is the leader of the program with the Upshur County Solid Waste Authority in cooperative agreement with them since 1993.

The City of Buckhannon collects waste and recycling for city residents, but they also maintain the Crossroads Recycling Center next to Walmart, which is open 24/7 and the recycling center located off Old Route 33 on Mud Lick Road.

“They began the operation of recycling about 1993 and through the cooperative agreement, the city does the work and the Solid Waste Authority educates and promotes recycling,” Smith said.

City of Buckhannon information coordinator and grant writer Callie Cronin Sams said it’s fortunate the city has something available like curbside recycling services.

“I think we’re really fortunate to have a curbside recycling service. It’s every two weeks, and there are a lot of communities that don’t have that,” Sams said. “I think it’s really nice to be able to offer both the curbside and the drop-off station, because the curbside is available within city limits only and folks from the county, of course, can bring theirs to the drop off station at Walmart.”

Smith said the Crossroads station by Walmart has bins available for two different types of plastic, two types of metal cans and paper, which also includes corrugated (crinkled) cardboard.

“The papers can be newspapers and magazines, sliced junk mail, and the other would be office paper which is copy paper and there is a paper that businesses use for personal paper and that would fall under office paper,” Smith said. “The third ‘paper’ is corrugated cardboard with the emphasis on corrugated.”

“If it doesn’t have a corrugation on the edge of it, we don’t take it, such as shoe boxes or sort of pressed cardboard,” he added.

He said numbers one and two plastic bottles can be recycled and can be placed in the same bin at the Crossroads location. Number one plastics – technically referred to as PET or PETE plastics, which stands for polyethylene terephthalate – usually include clear or green soda bottles, water bottles, cooking oil bottles, salad dressing containers and peanut butter containers.

Number two plastics – high-density polyethylene or HDPE plastics – usually include rinsed milk jugs, laundry detergent containers, shampoo bottles and body wash containers. Aluminum and steel cans are recyclable; typically, aluminum cans come in the form of soda or beer cans, while steel can be found in the form of green bean or corn cans.

Smith also said there are also a number of items that can be recycled at the Mud Lick facility for free.

“All electronics can be recycled free of charge out there,” Smith said. “It could be the printers, Gameboys and TVs – except the old, big, thick ones. Those go to the landfill.”

He noted old appliances such as refrigerators, washers and dryers can be recycled for free at the Mud Lick location, but there’s a small fee attached to recycling any appliance containing freon to have the freon removed.

“Reduce the amount produced, reuse everything and recycle and it just keeps material out of the landfill,” Smith said. “That’s one of the purposes of recycling, and many items are very profitable to recycle.”

Sams said there are numerous reasons why more people should be interested in recycling.

“I think it’s a really great benefit for the community, and then it also reduces what we have to pay because when we send waste away to the landfill, you pay per ton to dispose of waste, so any items that are recycled are taken out of the waste stream,” Sams said. “That way, we’re actually saving money as well, and saving space in a landfill and reducing the amount of land needed for landfills over time, so it’s good for the environment, good for you and it economically makes sense.”

Smith said the next recycling event will be the first Saturday in September, after Labor Day where a free shred event will be open to residents at the Crossroads Recycling Center.

“We’ve done this event three or four years in a row, and it’s a good opportunity for residents who have personal papers and things they would like to have shredded,” Smith said.

For more information on how to recycle, visit the city’s online guide to recycling here or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s informational online guide here.