Recycling, slow to come, catching on with residents 5/24/13

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 24, 2013

Recycling, slow to come, catching on with residents

By Rita Howell

It took a very long time for recycling to come to Panola County. Twenty years ago, while our friends in Michigan were seriously squirreling away their cans, bottles and papers into their streetside collection boxes, our fellow Panola Countians were throwing theirs in the gully.
Little by little we began to take notice and talk about recycling. But it was too expensive. So we just continued to fill up landfills.

Then neighboring towns began to set up recycling centers. Oxford did it. So did Greenwood and Hernando.

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Last year the Panola County Solid Waste Department, as part of its bid for the City of Batesville’s garbage pickup service, offered free collection of recyclables. It took a year, but in April 2013 the county installed on the city lot on Van Voris three commercial size dumpsters, painted in bright Crayola orange, yellow and green.

I don’t live in the City of Batesville, but I’m assuming that the bins are there to serve the whole county, so I’m making weekly trips there to dispose of all the excess plastic and paper my family accumulates in seven days.

When the containers were initially set up, they were labeled “cardboard only” (the yellow one),  “plastic only”  (the orange one), and “mixed paper” and “newspaper” (the green one). Seems simple enough.

(A smaller blue container is marked “aluminum cans.” Probably most serious collectors are selling cans rather than hauling them to the recycling center.)
Immediately I began to have questions.

Is a cereal box cardboard or paper? Do I leave the wax paper bag inside the cereal box?
Some product packaging is plastic AND paper. Which container does that belong in?
What about a buttermilk carton? Is that paper or cardboard?
And just how clean does this stuff need to be?

If you rinse out a buttermilk carton until most of the residue is gone, you are using a lot of water and probably increasing rather than decreasing your carbon footprint.

I have also used lots of water to rinse out detergent bottles and shampoo containers.
The guys at my house do not believe in rinsing out their soda cans, so I go behind them.
The reason is that I have one plastic recycling bin on the back porch. All recyclables go inside and I don’t want any sticky or stinky mess piling up during the week.

The folks at Panola County Solid Waste have added fresh signage to the recycling dumpsters, answering many of my questions.

Cereal boxes go in the mixed paper door. So do paper towel tubes and shoe boxes.
What goes in the cardboard bin? Cardboard boxes, flattened out.

The good news is that Panola Countians are taking advantage of this new service. After a month, the cardboard bin was filled up and ready to be taken to the Oxford-Lafayette County recycling center, which accepts our county’s cast-offs.

Here is a suggestion for addition notations on all the bins: “No garbage.”

Saturday I saw someone’s household trash discarded in the “plastic only” bin. I hated to mingle my clean bottles with their dirty refuse.