Avid recyclers trekked to the East Mesa auditorium of the Doña Ana Community College on Tuesday night to share their ideas about where we should go with recycling in Las Cruces. They heard how we got to where we are, where global recycling is today, how that affects Las Cruces, and the most likely future options for our community, based on our population and location in southern New Mexico. Then they had the chance to speak face-to-face with the Director of the South Central Solid Waste Authority (SCSWA) to share their ideas.
Patrick Peck, SCSWA director, kicked off the evening by giving the audience a more detailed explanation of how recyclables are managed in Las Cruces, and how deeply dependent global recycling had become on China. “Last year China took half of the world’s recycling – and now they’ve closed their doors,” he said. “Communities throughout the United States are scrambling to find new Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs).”
Tarkeysha Burton, SCSWA Education and Outreach Coordinator, explained possible future recycling options for Las Cruces:
1) continue with the single-stream recycling (all things in one bin and picked up curbside with an automated system),
2) go to dual-stream recycling (recyclables are split into at least two smaller bins at home and picked up manually in new trucks), or
3) return to drop off centers.
Burton explained the pros and cons of each scenario.
Lastly, Tom Parker, from Jacobs Engineering, highlighted how far Las Cruces is from domestic markets that could absorb recycling. Friedman Recycling in El Paso – our current recycling MRF – is working out the new logistics of dispersing what it gets from SCSWA, but the process is slow since all communities nationwide are inundating the same processing facilities.
Suggestions from the attendees ranged from how new technologies may make an impact in the future of recycling by expanding the material that can be accepted, to considering a new focus on food waste/organic recycling. A question came up about different or new recycling policies that should be enacted. Peck reminded everyone that the SCSWA cannot create laws; it’s up to residents to make that choice with their votes and voices.
If you weren’t able to make it to one of the Listening Sessions, you still have the ability to have your voice heard by taking part in the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KWBVY6R or find it at www.SCSWA.net.