Solid Waste Management District Grant Recipients Share Success Stories

Solid Waste Management District Grant Recipients

The St. Louis – Jefferson Solid Waste Management District is a regional agency that was created in 1993 to assist the public, private and nonprofit sectors in establishing and expanding waste reduction and recycling.  The District includes the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, Jefferson County and St. Charles County.  These programs and services are funded in part by the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. For more information, please visit www.swmd.net or call 314-645-6753. Click on the headline to read about SWMD grant recipients success stories.

Plastic Bags and Wraps Impact the Single-Stream Recycling Process

Most people know that recycling is good for the planet and that it’s the right thing to do. People also understand they play a role in recycling efforts, that’s why so many people regularly participate in recycling programs offered in their communities. But few people are sure of what exactly to do with the various types of recyclable goods in their households. And fewer people know that the #1 thing they can do to help the single-stream recycling process is simply keeping plastic bags and wraps out of residential recycling bins.

Plastic Bags and Wraps Are Recyclable, Just NOT Through Single-Stream Process

When plastic bags and wraps get mixed with the six acceptable items, they create a few challenges, including:

  • They DIVERT good recyclables to the landfill – about 20% of good recyclable items are mixed with contaminants like plastic bags, this can cause good recyclable items to end up in the landfill
  • They cause DOWNTIME at recycling facilities – some recycling facilities are offline up to 20% of the time due to contaminants, this increases processing costs by millions and causes inefficiency at processing facilities 
  • They create DANGEROUS worker conditions – where workers have to climb into sorting machinery and cut the tangled bags and wraps out by hand

Raising Awareness — Recycle Plastic Bags and Wraps Back at the Store

To help drive change, the  OneSTL Materials and Recycling Group is working to raise awareness and encourage St. Louis area residents to return their plastic bags and wraps to local retailers.

In 2020, the group partnered with Schnucks to rebrand existing collection bins (SEE PHOTO) at the entrance of each St. Louis area store. All you have to do is drop your plastic bags and wraps in a store-based recycling bin that you are likely already walking by at least once a week. It’s simple – any plastic bags and wraps you get from the store… go to your home… then back to the store. NOT in the trash. In addition to Schnucks, many other retailers accept plastic bags and wraps, look online to find a recycling location near you.

In September of 2021, the OneSTL Materials and Recycling Working Group launched the “Bags2Bench” tour. The touring bench was produced locally by students in the construction training program at Ranken Technical College, and the prime material of the bench is Trex composite decking, an eco-friendly product. The traveling bench is a tangible symbol of how recycling efforts allow new valuable products to be created from recycled materials. And here’s a fun fact, the bench is made from 13,500 recyclable plastic bags! You can learn about and follow the Bags2Bench tour online as it travels across nine area university campuses.

OneSTL is a collaboration of individuals and organizations from across the St. Louis region that are working together to create a more sustainable future. For more information, please visit www.recycleresponsibly.org  and follow @OneSTL on Facebook.

Perennial City, Coming Full Circle Into Their 5th Year

Perennial City Art Perennial City Art Chicken Coupe

Perennial City was founded in 2017 with a mission to help transform vacant, unused land into beautiful and productive urban farms through full circle food production. Now into their fifth year, founders Beth Grollmes-Kiefer and Tim Kiefer, along with their team of couriers diverts would-be waste from area landfills and transforming it into nutrient rich compost to grow local food.

The seeds were sown for this urban agriculture endeavor long before, when the Kiefers first met and immediately got into deep conversation about food and farming. Having a family farm was always their dream. Then one day, Beth came across an article about a service in Arizona that collected residential food scraps for composting and couldn’t wait to tell Tim! This model provided essential elements for a successful family farm — a way to build fertility to enrich and enliven poor soil, plus economic sustainability — all while offsetting significant carbon emissions, reducing waste, and connecting members to full circle food production. Here’s how it works!

Scraps are collected in green buckets from households across St Louis City and surrounding metro. Members can choose to have their buckets swapped each week or every other week and have the option to receive finished compost back twice a year for their own home gardens. Though many members aren’t gardeners at all — they contribute their scraps to lessen their environmental impact and to grow the local food web. Perennial City offers a simple solution.

While this initially started as a way to support urban farm dreams, by listening to members’ and communities’ needs, Perennial City has grown into so much more! Perennial City was never able to meet the demand for their own produce, as St Louis loved the service more than they could imagine. With the pandemic, folks staying in producers losing sales from locked-down businesses, Beth and Tim realized their routes were a great opportunity to provide more to their members and support many other local farms and businesses.

Along with scrap collections, members are able to order from over 50 local farms and businesses, including Theodora Farms in Alton, Buttonwood Farms eggs and poultry, fresh baked bread from Union Loafers, Blueprint Coffee, Companion Kombucha, Ozark Forest Mushrooms, and so much more, growing each week! To keep with the zero-waste theme, these offerings are made available in compostable and reusable packaging wherever possible. What started out as a creative solution to starting the Kiefers’ family farm has turned into a thriving full circle food operation! Perennial City looks forward to serving St Louis for many years to come!

Perennial City’s current service area includes St Louis City, Brentwood, Clayton, Des Peres, Frontenac, Glendale, Kirkwood, Ladue, Maplewood, Oakland, Olivette, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, Town and Country, University City, Warson Woods, and Webster Groves.

Interested in becoming a member? Sign up at compost.perennial.city.

Make Your Spring Cleaning More Sustainable

Republic Services Spring Cleaning

At Republic Services, we believe in partnering with customers for a more sustainable world. Often, that starts right in our own homes. When the weather gets warmer and the flowers start to bloom, that is also the time to dust off your spring-cleaning checklist and get to work sprucing up your place. 

When you’re clearing out the clutter this year, remember to think sustainably. Cardboard boxes, bottles, cartons, cans, and paper are all recyclable. Make sure these items are Empty, Clean and Dry before tossing into your recycle container!

If you’re unsure whether something is recyclable, remember, when in doubt throw it out. About 25% of what consumers throw in their recycling bins shouldn’t be there — these items are either contaminated with food or other residue or they aren’t recyclable in the first place. 

Springtime brings an influx of gardening-related contaminants to recycling facilities. 

  • Garden hoses
  • Plastic flowerpots 
  • Empty mulch bags 

Do not recycle these items! Hoses and plastic bags can tangle in recycling equipment and cause damage. 

Branches, grass clippings and other yard waste also doesn’t belong in the recycling bin – though this material is great for home composting. 

Reuse or repurpose household items for cleaning

Many of the materials around the house can be used for cleaning — and then washed and reused — in place of disposable items. 

  • Instead of using paper towels to clean, try using old towels with your favorite cleaner
  • Ditch the disposable sweeping or mopping pads and try a fuzzy sock as a duster; or use a microfiber cloth with a spray cleaner for mopping. 
  • Stuff an old or mismatched sock with natural scents like cinnamon sticks, lavender, whole cloves, or dried eucalyptus or bay leaves to freshen up a drawer or closet

Just taking a few extra minutes when cleaning out the clutter to determine whether it can be recycled, reused or repurposed can help create a more sustainable household and community!

For more quick and easy guidelines to becoming a better recycler, visit RecyclingSimplified.com.