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Recycling 'alive and well' in Delaware

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In conjunction with Earth Day this week, the state of Delaware is reminding residents to recycle.

Despite reports that recycling is collapsing in cities across the country, DNREC officials say recycling is “alive and well in Delaware.”

 

Adam Schlachter is the program manager for the Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Section at DNREC. He says China’s cutback on recycling imports last year that prompted recycling woes in the U.S. did not affect Delaware, where most recycling is not sent overseas. “Most of it stays within North America," said Schlachter. "There’s a variety of different places that it goes depending on what it is … so Canada, U.S., Mexico.”

Schlachter says the biggest issue facing recycling processors in Delaware is plastic bags that enter the system when people bag their recycling like trash. “The plastic bags wrap up around the equipment," he said. "And you literally have to go in with a pair of scissors and cut them out. It’s a lot of downtime.”

Schlachter says bags of recycling are usually thrown out —and liquid can ruin a whole load of single-stream recycling. Other items that are not accepted in single-stream recycling include shredded paper, scrap metal and styrofoam.

He says despite this, recycling programs divert more than forty percent of the overall waste stream in Delaware.

 

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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