Mayor Ben McAdams #BenChats about Recycling

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D)
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D)

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams held his second #BenChat on Twitter yesterday, chating about recycling.

The conversation was quiet at first, prompting the mayor to ask about the ending of Breaking Bad, a surefire way to get people talking. A few minutes later, the conversation picked up steam and people discussed the county’s role in the recycling program.

Citing the county’s recycling guide found at recycle.slco.org, the mayor discussed waste statistics. “30% paper, 12% plastic, 8% glass – materials in landfill that could be recycled,” tweeted the Mayor. The mayor continued by saying currently 180 tons of plastic and 450 tons of paper, both recyclable, lay in Salt Lake County’s landfill. Mayor McAdams is countering these statistics by raising awareness among citizens about the recycling program.

Currently, the program is administered by an organization called Wasatch Front Waste, which describes itself as “a government owned and operated entity […] made up of elected officials from participating cities and townships.” Not only does this program provide a recycle bin for each household, it also maintains the county’s five glass recyclable sites, a green waste program, and the occasional e-waste disposal.

E-waste is the waste associated with modern electronic devices such as televisions, computers, and cell phones. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the lead, nickel, cadmium, mercury, and other trace chemicals and elements used in the chips and batteries in electronic devices pose a risk to human health and the environment when not properly disposed.

Originally structured as Salt Lake County Sanitation, the program was changed to Wasatch Front Waste and Recyclables to allow cities and townships more control over how the program functions in their municipality, according to their website.

From the structure of the county’s recycling program, the conversation turned to the economic benefits of having a recycling program. “Recycling creates four jobs for every one job created in the waste management industry,” tweeted the mayor, however the mayor did not venture into how these jobs are created or how this model could be expanded in Salt Lake County. According to the EPA, the United States recycles only 34.7% percent of its waste, which potentially provides a economic incentive to capture this waste and reuse for construction and manufacturing.

The subject turned to the growing waste of plastic bags. “Fess up, what do you do with your plastic grocery bags?” tweeted the mayor. Some responded with their own uses, but others favored an outright ban, a model used by some European countries and US municipalities. “… is SLCo considering a ban on plastic bags? I’d happily support that!” tweeted Nick Como, Communications Director of Downtown SLC.

McAdams will continue to hold monthly #BenChats – though next months chat date and topic have yet to be planed. For more information on Salt Lake County’s recycling program go to www.wasatchfrontwaste.org.


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