Recycling comes back to Alberton

Citizens find their own solution

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The big blue Republic recycling bin is back in front of the Alberton Feed and Supply store thanks to a small group of community minded citizens who want to see recycling continue in this small town. The bin originally was put into place about four years ago as the result of a senior project by Shawnda Rohrbach. At that time Allied Waste owned the garbage business for Mineral County and the bin was donated to the community.

Republic bought the business last year and decided that it cost too much to donate and so to keep it the bill would be $300 a load and on average there are two loads per month, according to Loreen Felstet who is spearheading the Alberton Community Recycling Program. The committee is a 501(c)3 nonprofit formed under the Mineral County Economic Development Corporation. Committee members include Sharon Briggs, Jeannette Slater and Karen Briggs.

Felstet moved to Alberton five years ago from Washington where she started a similar recycling program for the small community of Tonasket. Garbage runs in her family and her uncle is Don Felstet who used to own the garbage business out of Superior.

“We have commitments from several area businesses and the town has committed $200 a month,” she said. Businesses and individuals have committed $240 totaling $440 each month for a $600 bill. They are still looking for donations and will continue to hold fundraisers like yard sales. All with the hopes of the program someday becoming self-sustaining.

One way to do that would be to purchase a baler and process recyclable items themselves and transport them to recycling facilities like the one in Spokane, Wash. That way, they would receive money per ton of recyclable trash.

Recyclable items such as numbers 1 and 2 plastic which translates into beverage containers and packaging. As well as cardboard, aluminum and tin cans, and paper. The two types of plastic recycled the most are polyethylene terephthalate (used for bottles) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) used for jugs, bottle caps and water pipes.

“China used to buy our garage,” she said, “but they don’t buy that much anymore since they have enough to deal with in their own country.”

Even plastic shopping bags can be recycle but the Republic bin doesn’t accept them because they gum up their machines. The recycling process for those is different and Felstet is hoping to get a recycling container set up for those as well, possibly at the Valley Grocery store.

One key way to help with the problem of garbage is to be more aware and simply not create it in the first place, Felstet explained. For example using refillable water jugs instead of plastic water bottles, choosing paper bags over plastic at the store or better yet, bringing in reusable grocery bags.

Currently, the United States creates about 33.6 million tons of plastic annually but only about 6.5 percent of it is recycled with 7.7 percent combusted in waste-to-energy facilities which creates electricity or heat from garbage according to the United Nations Environmental Progamme.

The rest ends up in landfills and even in the oceans. It’s estimated that 100 million tons of plastic debris is floating around in the ocean.

Felstet, who is also running for Mayor of Alberton in the November election, is also hoping to expand the recycling program into electronics such as old television sets, computers and cell phones. For more information on these items people can contact her at Loreengreen3@gmail.com.

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