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Task force seeks to educate public about recycling programs

ST. LOUIS - A local task force aimed at educating the public on recycling issues met on Wednesday.  The Missouri Botanical Garden hosted the meeting and invited the public to ask questions.  Some citizens have concerns over the future of their municipal curbside recycling programs following a policy change in China.

China went from taking a great deal of recycled material from the U.S. to taking virtually none.  Experts say the change of policy was the result of China receiving too many materials that ended up not being recyclable.  Some area residents have expressed concerns that curbside recycling programs in their community could be eliminated.

Missouri Botanical Garden’s Jean Ponzi led the discussion on Wednesday.  She believes the best way to keep recycling programs viable is to make sure citizens know which items can be recycled.

“It’s an industry.  It’s an economic engine.  When we keep that engine well-oiled and give it the right fuels as opposed to the wrong fuels, contamination, then it keeps working,” said Ponzi.  “It’s a local job generator.  It’s a very important service here that people value.”

Ponzi said area leaders are working together to educate the public on what items should be recycled in an effort to keep curbside recycling programs viable.

“One of the challenges that we’ve had with recycling as long as I’ve been in the business is that one municipality will have one list of things that you can recycle, and another will have another list,” said Ponzi.

Bob Henkel is with St. Louis Earth Day and says some of the items that do not belong in recycle bins included plastic bags and Styrofoam.

“If we can keep plastic bags and Styrofoam out of the recycling containers we would go a long way to not being in the situation wherein right now,” said Henkel.  “The recycling industry is really struggling with the amount of contamination they’re having to deal with.”