Plastics 3 – 7 Are Now Considered Trash In Laramie

Feb 28, 2020

City officials don't think that dropping 3-7 plastics from the recycling program will significantly increase the amount of trash going to the landfill.
Credit City of Laramie

The Laramie City Council voted in early February to stop collecting plastics numbered three through seven in the single stream recycling program.

These plastics typically make up about 3 percent of all recyclables collected.

Recyclables that are collected in Laramie are baled and shipped to Denver for sorting and processing by the company Waste Management. City officials say a lack of market for these plastics led to this decision.

"What has happened with our plastic[s] three through seven recently is we would send it off to Waste Management and they would store it in the hopes that maybe the market would come back. But for the foreseeable future, it does not look like that's going to happen. So rather than use resources to ship that material down to Denver, we decided just to exclude that from our recycling at this time," JR Slingerland, Laramie's Public Works Manager, said.

Items like ketchup bottles, some yogurt containers, and the foam trays from store-bought meat are typically in this range and won't be accepted.

According to Slingerland, the City already didn't accept certain kinds of plastics because of how difficult they can be to recycle. He said a simple way to ensure that you're not sending significantly more waste to the landfill is to search for alternative packaging at the grocery store or to buy in bulk.

Slingerland also encourages residents to be conscientious recyclers.

"We've always stressed that we don't want any nonrecyclable items in the recycling. Then what tends to happen is people put those in there hoping that it will be recycled. But what it actually does is it contaminates the rest of the recycling," Slingerland said.

"Up here in Laramie, we don't have the ability to sort out our recycling, and down in Waste Management in Denver, they are taking in so much materials there, they don't have the ability to sort it specifically there. So, as things are going down the conveyor, more than just the contamination tends to get grabbed just so they can be assured that they're taking everything off of the conveyor belt that's associated with contamination."

Residents looking for more information on what is currently accepted for recycling should look on the City of Laramie website .

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Ivy Engel, at iengel@uwyo.edu.