How do other communities deal with their refuse? This summer, Strafford resident and recycling center volunteer Michael Stoffel spent time cleaning out his father’s home in Baldham, Germany. This involved about 15 trips to that city’s recycling center that reduced by about 90 percent the amount that had to be disposed of as nonrecyclable/reusable trash. Michael shares these photos showing how recycling is typically managed in Germany.
Other questions we had for Michael:
- What happens to refuse that can’t be recycled? Landfill? Incinerator? Most trash will be incinerated with very efficient filters in the chimneys.
- How is plastic managed? Styrofoam and plastic foil are managed as light packaging – I assume they are both oil-based.
- Are there laws that reduce the amount of stuff that has to be recycled in the first place, such as laws banning certain kinds of packaging? I believe that would make sense but unfortunately, there has not been much of an effort to curb the output of packaging – the emphasis lies on recycling. Personally, I would like to see more packaging that would break down when composted.
Notes Ham Gillett, Program/Outreach Coordinator for the Greater Upper Valley Solid Waste Management District: “With the exception of several materials, like candles, I think Vermont’s larger facilities (Chittenden, Addison County, Rutland County, Northwest in Fairfax, and Windham County in Brattleboro) most likely collect the same number of different items on a regular basis. Our little transfer stations, like Strafford, are at a disadvantage due to space, paid labor, hours of operation, and location. In addition, residents and businesses in the GUV District are have been affected by the deterioration of the Hartford Transfer Station and the services it provides. In its heyday, it operated like one of the larger facilities in the state. I believe that Germans, and Europeans in general, take recycling and waste more seriously than Americans, and there’s no way that they could possibly consume as much as we do!”