City of Boise Has Solution in the Works for Plastic Recyclables 

click to enlarge An example of a plastic bag and plastic items that Boise residents will soon be able to recycle.

George prentice

An example of a plastic bag and plastic items that Boise residents will soon be able to recycle.

Earlier this week, thousands of area households learned that, effective Jan. 1, certain plastics are no longer eligible for recycling, because the Chinese government has banned them. Hundreds of communities throughout the western U.S., which have been sending their plastic recycling to China, will be left in the lurch—except Boise

Local officials have a plan that will not only solve the plastics dilemma but will also increase the number of items Boise residents can recycle.

"This is an innovative solution that allows us to turn a bad situation into something quite positive," said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter. He explained how city officials have been quietly working on an alternative since last August.

Boise, Republic Services and Salt Lake City-based Renewlogy will work together on the solution, which is to break down plastics into commercial diesel fuel. Boise recently received a $50,000 grant from Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics and the Keep America Beautiful initiative to help pay for the new program which Dow officials call "a recovery program, complementary to mechanical recycling." Officials said the city will absorb the rest of the cost, and no additional fees will be assessed to Boise residents.

click to enlarge City of Boise residents will soon be able to recycle even more plastics. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • City of Boise residents will soon be able to recycle even more plastics.
The first step of the new program, which will be rolled out sometime before April, will be to send 26 13-gallon plastic Hefty Energy Bags to every Boise residential customer (since recycling is picked up every other week, it's enough bags to facilitate a year of service).
A full list of what can be placed in the bags will soon be sent out to residents, and the bags can then be put in the big blue recycling carts. Some larger plastic containers, such as soda and detergent bottles, can still be put directly into the blue recycling carts.

In the coming weeks, Republic Services and the City of Boise will update residents on the upcoming program at CurbIt.CityofBoise.org.

In the meantime, other Ada County cities are still facing their own plastic recycling issues, but Boise and Republic Services anticipate other communities will be intrigued by the Boise solution and may want to become partners in the future.
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