Recycling is alive and well in Las Vegas, and since 2000, A/C Recycling has been picking up reusable materials that would otherwise go to a landfill, its owner says.
“We started recycling about eight years ago picking up recyclables on a daily basis using one trailer. Currently, we have 42 customers that we service daily — picking up cardboard, shredded paper, newspaper, plastics, steel, and aluminum and tin cans,” said A/C owner and manager Charlene Jiron.
Jiron said the only material she can’t recycle is glass and the reason for that is she doesn’t have the resources. She said the equipment it would take to pulverize glass costs upward of $130,000.
During a mayoral forum in January, candidate Gary Ludi talked about recycling in response to a question from audience member Barbara Smith, who later wrote a letter to the editor blasting him for his response.
Ludi said at the time that people who recycle in Las Vegas are being duped because recyclable materials collected at the transfer station are dumped into the trailers going to the landfill.
Ludi told the Optic that he’s not only a huge supporter and enthusiast of recycling, he thinks more could and should be done to in that regard.
“Ms. Smith only listened to the first portion of what I said and laid into me after the forum and in (the letter to the editor). But what I said is years ago, people were taking recyclables up to the dump thinking they were doing the right thing, but they were getting rid of it. I’m sorry, but I was told that from a former waste management director. Having said that, I think we need to have a very strong recycling center here,” Ludi said.
Ludi said he would like to see more locations that are accessible to the public; he said the county has land by the city offices where containers could be placed.
“I think doing things like that would be very doable.”
He said teaming up with businesses like Wal-Mart that deal in volume is another way to increase the city’s recycling capabilities.
Meanwhile, Jiron said she has just hired a full-time employee who is now making pickups all day. She said people can bring their recyclables to her operation at the transfer station and if people don’t know the location, they can ask the employee on duty at the transfer station and they will point out the site.
Jiron said there are 42 collection sites around the city, including one at the Immaculate Conception School parking lot, that are open to the public.
She said there are others strategically placed around the city, but those are on private property and for the exclusive use of those businesses. The container at I.C. is marked A/C Recycling-cardboard only, but it’s also fine to deposit newspaper if bundled.
Jiron said every 15 days her company sends out 22 tons of cardboard that otherwise would go into the landfill. She said she has looked at expanding the operation; however, A/C Recycling is on a yearly contract with the city and those details would have to be worked out.
“This is the only location that’s zoned for recycling; there’s no place within he city limits that is zoned for a recycling center,” Jiron said.
She said McKinley Paper of Albuquerque picks up the paper products, but her company has to transport all other recyclables.
Jiron said unfortunately she can’t pay people to recycle.
“People do it because it makes them feel good; they feel like they’re doing something good for the environment.”
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t feel any guilt at all when tossing out recyclable materials, and Jiron said the biggest problem she faces is people using the recycle bins as trash cans, a problem faced by cities nationwide. Some cities have cracked down and began to issue tickets to offenders.
According to the National Recycling Coalition, the economics of recycling have been a constant threat to recycling programs — it costs more to recycle than to dump at a landfill. But they say that nationwide the amount of garbage collected for recycling is growing slowly, to 58.4 million tons last year. That’s 24 percent of the nation’s garbage, up from 22 percent in 2000 and 14 percent in 1990.