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Don't toss this stuff in your recycling bin

Kiwanis Club of Tehachapi


May 25, 2019

Cristina Fisher Cunningham.

Kiwanis Club of Tehachapi Director Paula Steinhaus thanks Ali Van Dereyk, residential recycling manager for Waste Management, following her presentation at the club's May 15 meeting.

China is fed up with taking the world's trash, Waste Management's Residential Recycling Manager Ali Van Dereyk told the Kiwanis Club of Tehachapi, and recycling has become more of a challenge.

Speaking at the club's May 15 meeting at the Gold Mountain Sports Tavern, Van Dereyk said that when China first began accepting refuse, the limit on contamination was 5 percent. Now it is 25 percent, and many items that formerly were included in the waste are now prohibited. China, she said, is trying to lower its carbon footprint.

"Paper used to bring $75 to $80 a ton," she said. "Now you have to pay for someone to take it."

Global recycling has shifted to India, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan, she said, "but they don't really want it anymore."

The Waste Management (WM) company, which replaced the local company Benz, sends Tehachapi trash to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF – pronounced "merf") in Azusa. The facility processes 20,000 tons a month, running up to 20 hours a day. The recyclables are baled and held in separate piles until they can be audited. Material that cannot be recycled goes to a landfill, Van Dereyk said.

Items that can be placed in homeowners' WM recycling bins and processed at the Azusa facility include paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles.

Certain items clog up the machines, shutting them down.

Common contaminants that jam the machines and should not be placed in the WM recycling bins include plastic bags (Van Dereyk suggests using the plastic bag recycling bins in front of grocery stores); Styrofoam and shredded paper. "It flies all over," she said. "Take papers to shredding events."

In addition to plastic bags, Styrofoam and shredded paper, items that should not be put in the recycling bin include electronics and small appliances; textiles, bedding, rugs and carpets; hoses, holiday lights, and extension cords; film sheeting and flexible film packaging; paper napkins, plates, cups and tissues; concrete, wood and construction debris; yard waste and wood; and non-recyclable plastic. Tires, auto parts and scrap metal do not go in the recycling bin OR the trash.

Organic foods and liquids, Van Dereyk said, should be composted or put in the regular trash. The company is working with other organizations to turn organic waste into useful compost.

For more information, see

The Tehachapi Kiwanis CLUB meets at Gold Mountain Sports Tavern, in Great Oaks Plaza, 20601 West Highway 202. The meetings are held on Wednesdays at noon. Guests and prospective members are always welcome.


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