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Workshop shows inner workings of city recycling

Grinnell senior citizens learned about the benefits of recycling and the intricacies of the city’s new single-stream program on Monday at the Drake Public Library.

Jordan Scheibel ’09.5 , an AmeriCorps member working for Imagine Grinnell, explained to the crowd of 30 what materials were compatible with the municipality’s recycling system.

Scheibel discusses single stream recycling. Photograph by Carl Sessions

“Some things don’t work in the [recycling] system very well, but can be recycled elsewhere,” Scheibel said to the group of seniors. “And some plastic says it’s recyclable, but it’s not.”

He further explained that plastic bags and plastic cutlery are not recyclable, and that some types of plastic—such as #3, #6 and #7—should not be reused because they can leach chemicals. Scheibel presented examples of all three types on a display. Number 3 plastics are used, among other things, in shower curtains and cling wraps. Number 6 plastics are used in disposable plates and cups. Number 7 plastics are a miscellaneous category for plastic resins that don’t fit into the any of the either categories and thus should be used on a case-by-case basis.

The Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s Senior Education Program (SEED) hosted Scheibel’s talk on Monday.  “[SEED] is an outreach program to bring seniors together and educate them on various topics,” said Barbara Hansen, Assistant Director of SEED.

The audience then asked about the efficacy of the new program. Director of Grinnell’s Public Services Department Dave Popp fielded these questions.

“[Though data isn’t currently available], the single-stream system is going really good,” Popp said. “It’s even better than expected.”

Popp believes that events such as this are important to ensure the new recycling system is successful.

“We’re continuing to do community education,” Popp said. “We partnered with Imagine Grinnell to do outreach and increase the amount of material that we’re recycling.”

Imagine Grinnell is a local nonprofit that works to improve the quality of life in the area. In addition to community education about recycling, members of Imagine Grinnell have helped to “revitalize the Grinnell Community Garden in Miller Park” and organize Bike to Work Week, according to their 2011 Annual Report.

Scheibel concluded his talk by explaining the importance of proper recycling and its impact on the community.

“The hope is that [the new program] will increase recycling so that not as many materials will be put in the landfill.”

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