The new initiative comes on the heels of a decision by the People’s Republic of China to ban specific recyclables from entering the country, forcing communities all across the U.S. to change how they dispose of these materials. Until the recent ban, recyclables collected from Boise households were collected, sorted and shipped for sale to markets around the world, primarily in China.
Boise’s new initiative takes advantage of technology offered by a Salt Lake City-based company called Renewlogy, which breaks the plastics down to the molecular level to turn it into readily usable fuel. In addition, Boise residents will have the ability to recover more types of plastic than before, including films and wraps, plastic bags, foam containers and other No. 3-7 plastics. No change in trash or recycling utility rates are anticipated at this time.
“This is an innovative solution that allows us to turn a bad situation into something quite positive,” said Mayor David Bieter, who pointed out that more than 97 percent of Boise households participate in the city’s recycling program. “Our community is deeply committed to sustainability, so sending these plastics to the landfill was the last option for us. But through this initiative, we will be able to expand the types and amount of plastic we collect and divert to a beneficial use.”
Just as before, residents will continue to place things like pop/soda bottles, milk jugs and detergent containers (generally, Nos. 1-2 plastics) loose in their blue recycling carts. However, all other plastics (films and wraps, plastic bags, food pouches, foam products and all other No. 3-7 plastics) are to be placed in orange Hefty® EnergyBags™ that will be provided this spring to every household that participates in recycling. The bags, once full, should be tied and placed in the blue recycling cart along with the other recyclables. The bags will then be sorted and taken to Renewlogy’s facility in Salt Lake City to be recovered into synthetic fuel.
The City of Boise received a $50,000 grant from Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics and Keep America Beautiful to help get the program up and running. Happy Family Brands initially identified the grant opportunity and approached the city to partner on the application.
“We are excited that we have been able to identify a solution that allows more plastics to be recycled and still produces a sustainable, reusable product” said City Council President Elaine Clegg. “We have tried to make the method of collection as simple as possible for our citizens”.
All Boise recycling customers will receive the orange Hefty® EnergyBags™ in the spring, and collection for the program will begin as soon as the bags are available. Until then residents should continue to recycle as usual.
Residents can expect to see more details about the new program as they become available, but in the meantime, the city’s Curb It website will be regularly updated with the latest information.