Recycling can help reduce landfill waste

Pullman Disposal Services’ single-stream recycling improves accuracy in sorting


BAILEY CAMPBELL | The Daily Evergreen

In self-sorted recycling, if a plastic bag is found in a batch of recycled materials, all of the recyclables are contaminated.

BAILEY CAMPBELL, Evergreen reporter

Red is for recycle and gray is for garbage. Pullman Disposal Services employs single-stream recycling process to help citizens correctly separate waste to improve the environment.

The recycling center in Pullman attempts to reduce landfill waste by separating out recyclable goods. This limits the chance of something being put into the wrong recycle bin because residents do not have to separate items themselves.

Scott Askham, manager of recycling programs at the Pullman Recycling Center, said Pullman Disposal Services operates with a single-stream recycling process.
Single-stream recycling is a process that collects all recyclable goods in one commingled container, rather than the public separating items into paper, plastic or metal bins.

Askham said plastic grocery bags and garbage bags are not recyclable and should not be placed into recycle bins.

“The biggest issue we have here is plastic bags,” Askham said.

One plastic bag can contaminate an entire lot of recyclable goods. If a plastic bag gets into the mix, Whitman County Transfer Station and Landfill must separate it out and typically charges Pullman Disposal Services for the contaminated lot.

Pullman Disposal Services picks up recycle bins every other week. All the recycled items go into one truck and get transported back to the recycling center. There, the items are gathered and once again transported to Whitman County Landfill.

Ryder Phelan, a resident who lives on Military Hill, said he puts anything that can be recycled into the recycle bin to save room in the garbage can. The garbage can is half the size of the recycle bin and fills up quickly.

“It promotes people to think about what they’re putting in their garbage,” Phelan said.

Phelan said he thinks the recycle pickup that PDS provides is handy, but there aren’t many opportunities to recycle around town, unless he is at home.

Askham said the Whitman County Landfill is more like a transfer station because they transport waste and recyclables to other places. Once the transfer station gets the recycled items from Pullman, the items are separated into categories, such as paper, cardboard and aluminum. These items are then bundled and sent off elsewhere for further processing.

Alex Svensson, a senior mechanical engineering student who lives at Boulder Creek apartments, said that the recycle bins are small and often overflowing.
“There is a decent effort, but more can be done,” Svensson said.

He said that recycling should be encouraged and that more variety of recyclable goods should be accepted, like glass and plastic bags.

The Pullman Recycling Center has large on-site recycling bins available for public use. These are commingled bins that accept clean recyclables, such as glass, paper, metal and plastic.

Electronic waste is also collected by the center at no charge. These items include: TVs, monitors, central processing units and laptops.

PDS does not pick up or process waste and recyclable goods from WSU’s campus. Askham said WSU does their own service, that way they have control of when things get picked up.