European recycling a community effort

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I hope all of you have had the opportunity this summer to take some well-deserved time off and go on vacation. Although we are all so lucky to live in such a beautiful place it is always nice to take a break and experience something altogether different.

I just returned from my summer vacation and this year it was an extraordinary one. My daughter and I did the Tour du Mont Blanc, which is a 105-mile trek around the Mont Blanc Massif, which took us through France, Italy and Switzerland. It was quite an experience and one I will never forget. Like every trip I ever take I have something other than travel on my mind and that is recycling. I am always interested in seeing how other towns, cities and even countries handle their waste and recycling and whether I can learn something from them that I can bring back home to Sedona. This year was no exception and although most of the time I was busy just putting one foot in front of the other I did get to see some interesting ways that recycling is provided even in the most remote areas of the mountains.

Unlike the U. S. there was uniformity across the three countries in terms of what they provided for recycling and the results were obvious. First and foremost the thing you notice in all these countries is there is no litter, the streets are spotless. There are always crews out making sure that there is no trash or litter. The other obvious difference is the proliferation of recycling receptacles. There were large round containers on every block for the collection of recyclables in separate streams very much like what we do at Sedona Recycles. The other major difference in the way things are done is the business recycling. The stores all had tall cages where flattened cardboard was placed and a truck made the rounds emptying these boxes into a rear load truck. While picking up supplies I spent some time watching the process which was very hands on and required not only the cooperation of the store owner and staff in making sure the boxes were broken down but the unloading done by person doing the collection. This allowed all the local stores to participate in cardboard recycling on a daily basis. There was similar collection done by a different truck that collected glass from all the restaurants and bars. The proprietors put their bottles in a regular trashcan and they were emptied into a truck that only collected glass. Because of these methods of collection landfill space is preserved, resources are saved and everyone is a participant in keeping their community clean.

One may wonder why that doesn’t happen where we live; well there is one example where to some degree it does. In the Town of Jerome they collect all the cardboard from the local businesses. They then deliver the material to an area where Sedona Recycles provides 8 dumpsters for cardboard. About every 3 weeks our truck makes the trek up the hill to Jerome and empties the cardboard bins. Unlike most of our cardboard collection bins that have around 300 pounds max in each bin when serviced the bins in Jerome have between 650 and 800 pounds in each. What is the difference? The businesses flatten every box and the town employees load those empty, flattened boxes in the provided bins. This is a system that works for everyone. It maximizes space, encourage best practices and saves very valuable resources. Even in our state that prides itself on the free market and everyone for themselves Jerome has found a way that cooperation makes for an enviable outcome.

There is so much we can do to make our community a model. It takes a united will to think outside the box. Our mission statement at Sedona Recycles says that with full community participation we will provide opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle. We intend to reach out and make sure the full community participates. We are all in this together to create a clean and cooperative environment that protects what we are all so blessed to have in our wonderful city.

We look to those that succeed and learn from them and apply what we learn in our own little paradise. I hope you have all had a great summer and had the chance to visit another place and then come home to the best place there is, Sedona. For more information about recycling and waste disposal and reduction visit our website

by Jill McCutcheon, Sedona Recycles

Sedona Red Rock News

August 16, 2017