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Separating the Waste
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Nov 16, 2013 | 1792 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Knowing what goes in a curbside bin is vital to a successful recycling program in Sparks, and Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful used American Recycles Day to remind residents how to recycle properly.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Knowing what goes in a curbside bin is vital to a successful recycling program in Sparks, and Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful used American Recycles Day to remind residents how to recycle properly.
America Recycles Day was observed Friday as national non-profit organization Keep America Beautiful facilitated a campaign of events across America. Northern Nevada’s non-profit affiliate, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB), took a unique approach to the day by preparing for one of its biggest recycling efforts of the year.

“We thought this would be a good time to remind people not only about the upcoming Christmas Tree Recycling Program, but also about curbside recycling and some of its changes,” said J Merriman, communications manager at KTMB. “America Recycles Day was really our chance to bring more awareness and education to the community.”

Historically, the holiday season is one where KTMB sees plenty of volunteer help and recycling efforts from the community. However, the group is focusing on the first ‘R’ in its mantra of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ by asking locals to opt out of receiving a local phone book if they do not use it during the year.

The Phone Book Recycling Program was in place since 1991 and has hauled in more than 100 tons nearly every year. In 2012 the number plummeted to 38 tons, proving to KTMB executives that continually more people have forgotten them, causing them to discontinue the program.

“When we first started this, we did not have the facilities in our area to recycle them so we would collect them and get them recycled elsewhere,” Merriman said. “Now we have those facilities and people are able to use their curbside recycling. We are not done recycling them, it has just become easier.”

Merriman said Sparks residents can recycle phone books in their yellow curbside bins or drop them off at the Waste Management recycling drop-off location at 1455 E. Greg St.

Although KTMB will no longer have phone book recycling drop-off locations stationed throughout Washoe County, the annual Christmas Tree Recycling Program will continue with locations at Shadow Mountain Sports Complex, Bartley Ranch Regional Park and Rancho San Rafael Park. Merriman said the program has been very successful in the past, using the help of volunteer citizens and groups throughout the region.

“A lot of people think that it is run by the municipalities in the cities, but it is all volunteers and we definitely use a lot of them,” Merriman said, explaining the three-week period held for tree recycling. “During the holidays, people are in a really good mood and they are looking forward to having them recycled and helping out with the collection. We are already getting calls from local groups in Sparks, reserving their spots to help out.”

Merriman said volunteer groups who helped with the annual Make a Difference Day cleanup efforts in local parks earlier this month helped spread the benefits of the 2012 Christmas Tree Recycling Program.

“We had more volunteers out for Make a Difference Day this year and they were very excited to hear that the mulch we were spreading in the flower beds came from the Christmas trees we recycled last year,” Merriman said. “I think it was great for them to see that it is not just trash removal that we are focused on. Our programs really tackle issues on multiple levels.”

Merriman said 2014 will bring a major change to the people of Reno, who will now have single-stream recycling, allowing Waste Management to stop collecting green and yellow bins and instead collect a full-size can filled with all recyclable materials and sorting will be done at a new Waste Management facility, per an agreement with the City of Reno.

Sparks residents will continue to use green and yellow bins for recyclable materials, which Merriman said comes with the added task of ensuring the correct waste is in each bin.

“There are mornings where I will go to do my recycling and I can tell people do not know what belongs in each of the bins,” Merriman said. “If you don’t put the right stuff in your bins or you don’t do it correctly, Waste Management cannot take it in their recycling trucks and it does not get done. They do not have the staff time to go through it and separate the materials that do belong in each bin.”

Merriman said guides to what goes in green (glass bottles and jars) and yellow (aluminum and tin) bins can be found online at, as well as a new recycling guide for materials ranging from oil to microwaves.

With 2014 on the horizon, Merriman said KTMB is looking forward to expanding its programs given the increase in volunteer participation during 2013. It has worked with the Washoe County School District to install educational materials for young students and hopes to see continual increases in recycling throughout northern Nevada.

“We hope that with the expansion and more volunteers, it is also educating more people,” Merriman said, “And our volunteers also become ambassadors in the community and help spread the word about the hazards of illegal dumping and the impact they have on our community and our economy. The more people we have means more people get that awareness out to the public. Hopefully that will lead to less clean ups in the future.”
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