Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2014

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ASK MR. SUN:

Why do carefully separated recyclables end up tossed into one bin?

Sun Coverage

Mr. Sun,

Why, after people throughout the valley spend two weeks separating their recyclables, does Republic Services come along and throw them all together into one bin?

— Roger LaBrie

•••

It’s true that the valley’s trash hauler sometimes tosses our carefully segregated glass, plastic, cans and paper into a single oozy soup of recyclables.

The reason is Republic Services has three types of recycling trucks trolling the streets. So follow the bouncing ball (which is, of course, made of recycled rubber):

• The truck that has likely caused most of the confusion is a typical Southern Nevada garbage truck painted institutional green and labeled “Republic Service Commingled Recycling Truck.” With these vehicles — there are 10 — it all goes into one big compartment just like your trash. Republic Services workers sort it at the North Las Vegas recycling center.

• The second truck in the mix is the old-school recycling truck. These vehicles, of which there are 50, are the reason the red, white and blue recycling crates are still in use. The old trucks’ compartments are too far off the ground for workers to lift anything larger than a crateful of recyclables, says Bob Coyle, Republic Services’ vice president of government affairs. “It comes down to the weight you can hoist.”

Coyle says that because his company can’t guarantee it will have enough of either truck available to cover specific routes, all residents must put their recyclables in the crates so their contents can be lifted into the old trucks — should they be the only ones available that day.

Implied in all this is that separating recyclables doesn’t matter as long as they’re placed in the crates.

• The third truck is what appears to be the future — an automated red and white vehicle that hoists and dumps a single can of recyclables. This is the truck used in the county’s single-stream recycling pilot program, which prompted the company to upgrade its recycling plant so it could sort recyclables and you don’t have to.

Questions for Mr. Sun should be sent to [email protected].

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