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Going Green in 2014

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It’s still January.

You can still make a New Year resolution.

And you can make this your motto:

Going Green in 2014 !

OK. Kermit the Frog says it’s not easy being green. And that may be true, for him. But for the rest of us, it really is easy to go green – environmentally green – that is.

Your “go green” resolution means you’ve decided to reduce, recycle and reuse a lot of everyday things in your life. It may be easier to do than you think. Plus you become an environmental hero because you help protect the earth, save energy and natural resources.

Sound good? If you live in Plano, your recycle resolution is made even easier. The city’s made recycling a top priority and you’ll join thousands of your fellow citizens who’ve resolved to recycle too.

How big is residential recycling in Plano? It’s Texas-size big. It’s about 18,000 tons big – or about as much as 89 blue whales big. City officials’ report that’s how many tons of recyclables, including aluminum cans, newspapers and other recyclable materials its residents generated the past year.

Kim Soto, Plano Residential Recycling and Zero Waste Coordinator, says more residents continue to join the recycling effort each year. A new Gold Star Cart program is under way to encourage residents to recycle more and reduce mixing non-recyclable items in their recycle cart. Soto says Gold Star Recyclers are eligible to earn a set of household stainless steel recycle cans and a free year of collection from Environmental Waste Services, a $196 value.

Plano residents can click here to join the Gold Star Cart Program. Residents who join will receive periodic email updates on the program and a Recycle Right Plano sticker for their recycle cart.

“Plano has long been a national leader when it comes to recycling, thanks in part to our residents and in part to our fully automated Single Stream collection system,” said Steve Funk, Plano Environmental Waste Services Superintendent. “Not only can recycling help the environment, but we can all benefit from recycling everything we can around the house, at work and when we are out around town.”

The city’s Single-Stream Recycling program refers to having all recyclable materials co-mingled into one cart container that’s rolled to the curb for pick-up. Fully automated refers to the type of truck used. Drivers from inside the truck collect materials from the roll cart with an automated arm that lifts and dumps the cart and places it back at the curb.

Robert Smouse, Plano Environmental Waste Services Manager, urges all Plano residents to reduce the waste they generate and maximize their efforts to recycle as much as they can. He strongly encourages citizens to use their single stream recycling cart, the weekly yard trimmings collection option and request household chemical collections when needed.

“All three Plano recycling programs help to reduce the city’s total operational costs to provide the entire package of residential services and commercial and community based programs,” Smouse said. “In addition, it helps to reuse valuable items, create additional environmental-based jobs and produce new products with less original resources.”

Once collected, Plano residential recyclables are eventually transported to Republic Service’s Material Recovery Facility in Ft. Worth. The state-of-the-art facility uses magnets, lasers, gravity and other techniques to sort and separate more than 500 tons of mixed recyclables each day. Separated materials are processed, baled and shipped to other facilities that process the recycled materials into a range of new items, from soda cans to plastic packing materials and more.

Republic Services officials note that re-purposing recyclable materials also saves valuable landfill space. Landfills are costly to build and operate, and recycling helps extend the life of a landfill and avoids the cost of having to build other landfills in the future.

Plano’s Kim Soto noted that increasing the number of residents who recycle, and the amount they recycle, is an important way for Plano to improve the city’s reputation as an environmentally sustainable community.

“We are proud of what we are able to accomplish and the positive response and participation from our residents,” she added.

An Environmental Protection Agency study estimates that each American produces 1600 pounds of trash each year, according to Residential Recycling of Texas, Inc. That adds up to hundreds of thousands of tons of waste each year nationwide. Paper products are the biggest single trash item, generating as much as 40% of waste.

While many people believe recycling efforts were sparked by environmental concerns in the 1970s, reports show recycling has been around for hundreds of years.

A brief history of recycling history shared by Residential Recycling of Texas notes bronze scrap and other precious metals were collected and recycled in the 1600s.

In the U.S., widespread recycling efforts were boosted in the 1970s by two key economic factors: soaring energy costs and a growing awareness of the environmental impact and cost of mismanaged waste. As a result, reuse and recycling became a top priority among many governments and citizens nationwide.

The energy conservation savings were clear: aluminum recycling uses only 5% of the energy required to produce raw aluminum. Big energy savings are also achieved when glass, paper and other scrap metals are reused, too.

Some people still wonder if recycling really matters. It’s a choice people have to make for themselves. But one thing’s clear: millions across the nation and around the world, including thousands of Plano citizens, are recycling. And recycling is now a major U.S. industry that employees thousands of workers, saves substantial energy, reduces land fill area and conserves essential resources.

So, what about your New Year resolution? Will you Go Green in 2014?

Go here for some recycling facts. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency website to learn more about how you can reduce, reuse and recycle – and why it matters.

Visit the City of Plano residential recycling website to learn more about the program and how you can participate.

You can also learn more about recycling by viewing Plano’s online learning module Take Care of the Trash.

Click here to learn more about Plano’s commercial recycling and waste reduction programs.

Visit www.livegreeninplano.com to find out more about Plano’s sustainability and environmental events, activities and educational offerings.

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