WRAP Report

This just in from Charles Blount…

Walpole Recycling Action Project

It’s been a long, cold winter.  All the wood for the wood stove has long since been burned up and it’s cold in here as I write this.  It’s even colder outside, and there’s a stiff, biting wind that just cuts right through you.
Mom and Dad Robin arrived a few days ago.  I have been feeling very sad for them; they’ll starve, since all the earthworms must still be frozen stiff like little pencils!   Well, Spring MUST be on the way now.  Mama Robin, just outside my window, pecked diligently at the ground and came up with an earthworm; not a big one mind you, but enough for her to live on for a while.  What a winter this has been!
As good stewards of our planet, we surely aren’t interested in spoiling it with trash.  We make a serious effort to REDUCE our trash by being very careful about what we buy and how it is packaged.  We also REUSE items that others might throw away, and we RECYCLE (repurpose) items where possible (that empty aluminum soda can might end up as part of the wing of that jet you fly on your next trip to Miami).
The REDUCE part of the equation is the responsibility of each one of us, individually.  Our town can’t  help us there; WE have to do it!
Our town CAN help us with the REUSE part of the equation.  The Walpole REUSE Center is up and running again as of last week.  As we come into the Recycle Center out on Drewsville Road, the first thing we see is the big, blue trailer to the right of the main building.  Really, – a Big Blue Trailer?  Yep; that’s the home of the Walpole REUSE Center.  That big blue trailer is unheated, so it has to shut down every winter.  TRIVIA: What is the biggest thing that we REUSE again and again?  The Walpole REUSE Center’s Big Blue Trailer, of course!
OK, so how can we use the REUSE Center?  Well, for example, there, in the garage is Robbie’s bicycle. He rode that thing everywhere back before his family moved to Walpole. Now, living at the top of a long, steep hill, it just isn’t used anymore. Besides, Robbie is now a sophomore at college in Pennsylvania and gets around in a used VW. His dad is too out of shape to make it up that big hill, and mom won’t ride it – after all, it’s a boy’s bike and I hear that no self-respecting girl would ride a boy’s bike – you know how girls are!
Anyway, Roger will be starting the 4th grade this fall; he doesn’t have a bike – yet.  Mom sees just what he needs at the REUSE Center and, after making a small donation to the local Food Shelf, heads home with a bike that will last Roger until HE goes off to college.
The object of this whole REUSE process is to prevent that bike from becoming a part of the solid waste stream that spoils our beautiful state, and our planet.  Please go to Walpolerecycling.com/reuse-center/ to see a list of what is available there.  And, the next time you are out at the RECYCLING Center, stop by the REUSE Trailer to see, first hand, what is there – you’ll be amazed!  Speak with the good people there, the volunteers who man the center, to see how you might join them as a volunteer – just two hours per month.  This can be your way to “Pay It Ahead” to the town that does so much for us all.
Now, a quick note on the RECYCLE part of the REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE equation.  The recent reduction in oil (and gasoline) prices has been just great for our family budget.  But that same reduction has caused dislocations in the raw materials world.  Plastic, like that used for water bottles, is called “PETE” and has a resin code of “1” (that’s what the “1” in the triangle tells you).  At the most basic level, PETE is made from oil along with some other chemicals.  That’s why the plastics world is in competition with the heating oil and gasoline world – same basic resource.
When oil prices were high (the past few years) plastic companies bought their PETE from recyclers like us (and thousands of other towns around the US – and Europe, too).  The recycled PETE was cleaned, shredded, chemically melted down, some more chemicals were added, and then it was recast into bottles.  There you have it; the life-cycle of PETE.
But, when the price of oil drops (as it has recently), the plastic companies can make their PETE directly from oil at near, or even less cost than they could make it by processing recycled PETE.  If the plastic companies don’t pay us for our recyclable PETE we are faced with either storing it somewhere, or paying to have it dumped in a landfill.  Once in a landfill, it will be there forever – plastics do not biodegrade!
Given the current raw materials market, plastic companies can afford to be really picky about the quality (purity) of our recycled PETE.  In order to avoid having our recycled PETE end up in a landfill, we have to be just as “picky” as the plastic companies about the purity of what we take in.
At least for the time being, we just can no longer take in those “clam-shell” containers, or PETE items that are not in a “bottle” format (where the top (opening) is smaller in diameter than the base).  And we cannot take in PETE items that we cannot see through.  (They don’t have to be “clear or colorless,” but we have to be able to see through them.)
Uncomfortable as these changes are for you (and for us) they will keep the “purity” of our PETE recyclables at a level where we should be able to continue to sell our recycled PETE to the plastic companies.
Now, one final reminder: the REUSE Center is in need of volunteers; please stop in to see all the good things they have in the Big Blue Trailer, and learn what it means to be a volunteer there.  Pay It Ahead.

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