Forgetful Recyclers Test Workers' Patience


Despite Bin Labels, Itemsare Mishandled

September 18, 1991|By Russ Mullaly

I'm sure by now you all are familiar with Mo.R.T., the county's mobile recycling truck that stops in various parts of the county during the week. I go regularly every week to do my part to recycle.

Beingan observer of life around me, I also watch what goes on at the Mo.R.T. It is interesting to see how a number of people fail to follow simple directions, which has always been one of my personal peeves.

It reminds me of when I was teaching. I would explain something in detail, ask for questions and then the inevitable would occur. Not minutes afterward, someone would either be doing the task completely wrong, or ask me what they were supposed to do.

Unfortunately, theability to listen and follow directions doesn't seem to improve muchwhen people become adults.

At the mobile recycling center, you will notice that every bin is clearly labeled with instructions explaining what is to go in and what is not to be included. There is a handout which provides this information as well. There are also people from the recycling program to assist you and answer questions.

One recent day must have been particularly frustrating for the workers. I saw a woman aggressively pitching bottles into a bin, accompanied by loud sounds of smashing glass. I guess she was displacing hostile feelings from a particularly bad day. Throwing bottles is forbidden, and so stated on the bin. She had to be reminded by one of the Mo.R.T. people that this was not acceptable for safety reasons.

On this sameday, there were other people putting items in the wrong bins, tryingto add unacceptable items and just plain not following directions. Must have been a full moon.

It is so much easier to recycle these days than it was in the 1970s. Back in the early days of recycling, only certain materials were accepted, and recycling plastic was unheardof. The items you brought were scrutinized quite carefully, and sometimes the would-be recycler was berated for bringing the wrong items.

In addition, there were few of these centers around. Many of the centers had irregular or unpredictable operating hours. Not so today.More items can be recycled, and there is a regular schedule and numerous drop-off points.

I talked with some county employees involvedwith the recycling program, and they say most people follow the fairly simple guidelines as to what is accepted and how to prepare it forrecycling. There are those who just don't want to cooperate. It makes you wonder why they recycle voluntarily.

A woman refused to crush plastic bottles she dropped off. I guess she felt they should be grateful for her just bringing the bottles.

Most problems now concern the plastic that is accepted. It is very simple:

At Mo.R.T., youcan only recycle narrow-neck bottles with either a No. 1 or No. 2 onthe bottom. Remove the rings and the caps. And the bottles must be flattened to take up less space, of course.

But every week people insist on bringing all kinds of plastics that aren't bottles.

I notice that the list of unacceptable paper items includes papers contaminated by food, animal waste or oil. Or non-paper items. Why should they need to tell people this?

The workers are there to help the elderly or those that aren't able to lift the heaviest items, which are the papers. These need to be tied up or placed in paper bags. Yet every week, people bring loose papers.

I was told the worst months for bees around the bins are August, September and October. However, there wouldn't be any bees if people would remember to rinse food and liquids from the containers.

If people would only take the time to read instructions, as with everything in life, fewer difficulties would occur.

There are those who read the list of items that are not acceptable, and fail to notice in red letter above, "Mo.R.T. CAN'T accept:" and so they bring in those items.

I salute the folks who work for Mo.R.T. Each week they are there, standing out in all kinds ofweather, helping, explaining and interacting with all sorts of people, with patience that I know I wouldn't have.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.