Join Team Lulu on a tour of the Sonoco Reclamation Center to celebrate Earth Month and expand our knowledge of the waste stream.
On a crisp, Carolina blue Thursday, we embarked on a journey alongside our LaCroix cans, yogurt cups, and other recyclables. Our eco-excitement electrified the air. Or, it may have been the rumblings of trucks and giant machinery sorting paper from cardboard, glass, plastics, and metals.
For some of us, the thought of recycling and environmentalism may conjure images of crunchy folks in Birkenstocks asking if you have a minute for the environment as you nervously pick up your pace and avoid all eye contact.
However, there’s another aspect of recycling that many people don’t consider – JOBS!
The Sonoco Reclamation Center in Raleigh, NC processes around 350 tons per day in two 10-hour shifts, with 4 hours for cleaning. At the time of our tour, the Sonoco team was processing items at a rate of 11.9 tons per hour.
A recent article from The News & Observer pointed to statistics showing that recycling plastic bottles employs around 1,700 people in the Carolinas. Likewise, if each household recycled just two additional plastic bottles a week, we could create 300 brand-spankin’ new jobs.
Currently, 3 billion bottles, or about a third of all plastic bottles, are thrown away in North and South Carolina. We’re tossing out jobs left and right!
According to the Carolinas Plastics Recycling Council, we currently only produce 25% of the recycled plastic from bottles need to make new products. The other 75% is purchased from other states in the US and abroad. The more Carolinians recycle, the more we can cut costs, create jobs, and keep it local, y’all.
That said, not all items are accepted by recycling centers. It’s important to keep in mind that plastic grocery bags should not be added to commingled recycling. Facilities like Sonoco are unable to process plastic bags, and when they find them among recycling, the bags end up in a landfill. Instead, consumers should bring back plastic grocery bags to grocers who can properly recycle the bags .
You can find a recycle location near you: http://www.abagslife.com/find-a-recycle-center/
Can’t remember which bin to toss your bottles, food scraps, and other trash? Lulu’s got your back! Download these free recycling and composting infographics.
Check with your municipality to learn the specifics of what can and cannot be recycled.
Together, we can all be like Jake the trash truck and become recycling heroes.
Go get ‘em, you recycling superstar!
Your bottle means jobs: https://yourbottlemeansjobs.com/pledge/
Sheridan is Lulu’s Coordinator of Sustainability and Outreach. She is also an author advocate, a friend to all cats everywhere, a clog aficionado, and an art maker.