OPINION

From Waste to Resources: Plastic yogurt and fruit cups added to list of approved recyclables

Ty Marsh
Guest columnist

In January, Rumpke Waste & Recycling announced it would begin accepting more household plastics as part of Franklin County’s curbside and drop-off recycling programs.

The announcement was met with joy from yogurt eaters across the county, and at SWACO, we couldn’t be happier that the millions of plastic yogurt containers, fruit cups and other types of tubs that make their way to the landfill each year may be recycled in Ohio.

Ty Marsh

Residential recycling programs differ from community to community, but virtually all recyclables in Franklin County, regardless of who picks them up from your curb, are taken to the Rumpke Material Recovery Facility in Columbus, where they’re sorted and baled before being sold to a recycler and turned into new products.

The recycling process requires many steps and partners along the way, and it begins and ends with each of us – the consumer. When we put the correct items into our recycling container and purchase products created from those same recycled materials, we can support our local economy and protect our environment.

To Rumpke’s credit, more than 95% of the markets that it has secured for the materials received from households are in the United States. At a time when recycling programs across the country have been disrupted by international markets, Franklin County’s program largely has remained unaffected.

However, even with that stability, decisions to change recycling programs are not made lightly. Franklin County’s expanded plastics-recycling program required both an investment in people and technologies and the ability to secure long-term buyers for the materials.

In part due to the demand from consumers, an increasing number of businesses want products to contain recycled content. Companies like Buckeye Polymers in Lodi have created business models to meet those needs.

Our recycled plastic yogurt containers, fruit cups and tubs will make their way to recycling companies like Buckeye Polymers, where they’ll become new products for our homes, lawns and gardens – and even parts for our cars.

The “circular economy” is happening in Ohio every day. The materials that you put in your recycling cart are feeding Ohio manufacturing businesses that create new products that can be purchased by you again.

Hundreds of Ohio businesses rely on recyclables, and we can help them keep their doors open and our fellow Ohioans employed by purchasing materials made from recycled content and correctly recycling at home.

All the time many of us are spending at home these days should allow for a few extra minutes to make certain we are recycling the correct way.

When deciding which plastics to put in the curbside cart, continue to look for plastic bottles and jugs, such as those used for milk, juice and laundry detergent.

Plastic tubs that held butter, cottage cheese, whipped cream and sour cream should be rinsed and the lids placed on them.

With fruit cups and apple-sauce cups, make sure to remove the clear plastic film covering the tops.

And, finally, yogurt containers and their lids are accepted, but this does not include foil tops, so make sure to discard those.

Go to recycleright.org for a list of recyclable materials in Franklin County.

Your efforts will help our Ohio businesses and keep our environment healthy and clean today and into the future.

Ty Marsh is executive director of SWACO. Questions about its operations may be directed to him at questions@swaco.org. His office provides this column to ThisWeek Community News.