Published On: Thu, Oct 20th, 2011

Norman expands recycling options, adopts new plastics policy

Norman residents no longer need to trash that empty yogurt cup because the city of Norman is increasing the types of plastics that can be


Before the change in policy, Norman limited its residents to recycle only category one and two plastics, which include soda containers, water bottles, milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles.

Starting in October, recycling has expanded to categories one through seven, which include plastics such as margarine tubs and yogurt containers, said Ken Komiske, director of the city’s Utilities.

Sanitation division manager Scottie Williams said Recycle America, the region’s recycling contractor, allowed categories one through seven to be recycled in Oklahoma City earlier this year. The Norman sanitation department asked Recycle America if Norman could expand their recycling categories as well, and the contractor agreed.

“We always have citizens calling and asking about recycling, so we really wanted to expand the changes to here in Norman,” Williams said. “This will be great for the environment and cuts down on landfill space and costs, so it’s also really helpful financially.”

Komiske said he believes positive changes will come with the expansion in plastic recycling.

“It should add to the amount of material recycled,” Komiske said. “Realistically, our contractor says that it should only add maybe 5 or 10 percent to the volume of plastics we collect. But still, anything more we can recycle is better than throwing it away.”

And recently more Norman residents have been throwing things away. Participation in curbside recycling has decreased in 2011. In 2010, 47 percent of Norman residents recycled, and 38 percent have been recycling in 2011, Komiske said.

“Recycling goes through a pattern where it’s new and people recycle a lot, and they put a lot of recyclable materials out,” Komiske said. “But after a while, the newness of it wears off, and the participation rate drops off. We are hoping by adding additional plastics that the participation rate will increase again.”

The city of Norman still charges its residents a monthly fee of $3 whether they choose to recycle or not.

One of the reasons the additional types of plastics has not previously been recycled in Norman was due to their low worth, Komiske said.

“Our contractor says it’s a different type of plastic and has a different number, so it’s a different formula when you make it,” Komiske said. “For the recycling people, it wasn’t as valuable of a product … and it reduced the value of recycled products that they have,” Komiske said.

Psychology junior Andrew Stephens said he doesn’t recycle much because he never knew what could be recycled and what couldn’t, but he’ll probably recycle more now.

“I didn’t know about the change in the policy, but we’ll probably start recycling more now,” said Stephens, who shares a house with a roommate. “It’ll be easier now that we can recycle more things.”

Even if Norman residents don’t have recycling services because they live in an apartment, they can still recycle by dropping off items at one of the three recycling centers in Norman.

The centers are located on Porter and Robinson at the County Fairgrounds, Main Street west of Hobby Lobby and on Lindsey Street in the Hollywood shopping center.



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