Recycling ‘as important as it’s ever been’ | News

NEW CASTLE – A Lawrence Coujnty nonprofit has partnered with the Lawrence and Mercer Counties Recycling/Solid Waste Department to host the 10th H2R (‘Hard to Recycle’) event of 2022.

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday in the DON ReClaim! parking lot in New Castle. Residents can bring difficult-to-recycle items like thermostats, holiday lights, floppy disks, old VHS and cassette tapes and used CDs and DVDs.

The program is offered monthly, typically on the second Tuesday, in locations across the two counties. Last month’s event took place in New Wilmington; another will be held Nov. 8 at Munnell Run Farm in Mercer.

“We try and bounce it around to different places,” said Jerry Zona, Lawrence-Mercer County Recycling and Solid Waste director. “It’s a way for people to deal with stuff they can’t easily get rid of, but don’t want to put in the trash.”

Zona said VHS tapes are the most popular item though the tapes saw their first comeback in many years in 2022.

“In the early years we saw a lot of VHS,” he said. “Believe it or not, there are still quite a few of them out there.”

Christmas lights are also a common item as the holiday season approaches.

“People are gonna start getting ready for that,” Zona said. “It’s a good opportunity to get rid of those strands that just don’t work anymore.”

Holiday lights are recycled by a web-based firm called HolidayLEDs.com.

“I’ve been buying my Christmas lights from those guys for quite a few years,” Zona said. “That’s how I found out about the program.”

Electronic media is sent to a company called GreenDisk, which bills its services as “technotrash recycling.” The local solid waste department receives certificates of destruction for these items, said Zona, since they may contain sensitive or personal information.

Shoes are another big-ticket recycling item – “The carpet in my house is made out of recycled shoes,” said Zona – with usable pairs being redistributed to those in need by a Florida-based company called GotSneakers.

“A lot of times we get shoes that are in pretty good shape, or that people have never even worn,” Zona said. “It’s much better to have them reused than destroyed, especially when somebody needs them.”

The purpose of the H2R events is to gather recyclable items in bulk, as quantity is often a barrier to recycling, with large amounts being much more easy to recycle.

There are many benefits to recycling, according to Zona, including energy conservation during the processing of raw materials.

“You don’t have to mine it. You don’t have to manufacture it. There’s not a lot of energy that goes into making it usable again,” Zona says.

Recycling affects everyone, says Zona, particularly in the ongoing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Especially with the supply chain issues, recycling is probably at a point where it’s as important a part of everyday life as it’s ever been,” Zona says. “So whenever there’s something else we can help people recycle, we like to do that.”



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