The pride and excitement radiating off Annely Germaine today was easily felt when I stood next to her this morning. A couple of years ago at a discussion of issues that needed attention she raised “What about Styrofoam?” and today collection of polystyrene started in McMinnville!
There are many players who worked with Annely to get to this moment. First, her committee members who met often and made road trips to discover what was being done elsewhere. Then they spent hours analyzing how to piece together possible solutions at the lowest cost to city residents and the commercial recyclers.
Next was the City Council members who understood that Recology’s request for a rate hike was a golden opportunity to add this service.
Finally, the people at Recology themselves, who knew how to take the broad concept brainstormed by Zero Waste McMinnville and develop a system for implementation.
And today, a week before the rate hike goes into effect, the collection of Styrofoam blocks started because….well, Christmas purchasing usually includes a lot of Styrofoam and the public was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to clear the piles that had collected.
Gates opened at 8am and the cars and trucks started arriving. Some with a considerable amount, some just a few pieces.
Bins had been set up to identify how much was coming into Recology from McMinnville residents and from other areas outside of Mac. The bins started filling rapidly as more people came out after 10am when Zero Waste McMinnville offered free teeshirts to people.
Recology requests people to limit their drop off to one square yard per day, but also know that the pent up demand may result in higher levels of contribution for a short time, and then amounts will drop and get to a slow and steady residential rate.
They plan to deliver the Styrofoam that is collected at the McMinnville Depot to Agilyx in Tigard several times a week. As the system gets established and runs smoothly, Recology will permit other types of #6 polystyrene to be recycled. And then, they will expand to commercial users who really are the ones who have the huge amount that need to be moved from the landfill waste stream into recycling.
So, in this process we have a few things that have become more clear to those of us not living solid waste disposal every day:
- When implementing a new service it will usually work smoother if slow and steady is the chosen system. We know households are bothered with this kind of trash and starting small with one kind helps work out system kinks before more kinds of the trash can be included and before the heavy players are involved.
- Zero Waste McMinnville is not and has never been a part of the Recology business. We may stick our collective noses into their business, but we are partners in crime so to speak. We have common goals and work together well to achieve those goals. Being a grassroots movement permits us to aim higher and farther than Recology may plan, simply because we are not initially concerned with the financial and environmental limitations to everything we want to see happen. With our ability to dream, and Recology’s pragmatic nature continually being teased by Zero Waste McMinnville, the residents of this city can look forward to other new recycling/composting/trash removal programs in the future.