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Why cant more be recycled?

Original post made by Steven, Birdland, on Sep 20, 2009

I just got my new recycle cart and I am at a loss why there are so many items that can be recycled that are being diverted to a landfill. What I am concerned about is the amount of plastic items that are recyclable that they wont let us put in. Anything marked with the recyclable triangle can be recycled but Pleasanton Garbage is sending 50% of it to a landfill because its a wide mouth container or od shape? I am at a loss. Yogurt containers, butter tubs, cottage cheese tubs, and many other items don't fit their mold of recyclable, but they clearly are. Also plastic bags are recyclable if grocery stores can do it why cant Pleasanton Garbage? It seems like a giant step back to me? What do you think?

Comments (32)

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Posted by Billie
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 20, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Backwards, indeed!!

If an item has the recycle triangle on it, I'm putting it into the recycle cart. I don't think the City really thought this one through . . . especially when they say they're trying to meet a "countywide waste diversion target of 75% by 2010!" Sending a good portion of recyclables to the landfill just doesn't cut it!

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Posted by Jill
a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Sep 20, 2009 at 2:41 pm

The issue is not whether something is recyclable, it's whether there's a market for the recycled material. If they can't pass along the items to a company who will use them as a raw material, then there's no point in collecting the items.

And yes, with the economic downturn, there has been a concomitant decrease in the market for recycled materials. Web Link

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Posted by Billie
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 20, 2009 at 3:19 pm

It's really up to PGS, the City, and the County, if necessary, to find that market for recycled goods - even if it takes some effort on their parts. Our effort is to get it to them.

Did you know that San Ramon, for example, recycles not only what Pleasanton finds acceptable, but in addition: all plastic containers if not used for hazardous waste, plastic bags (grocery, bread, dry cleaner, toilet paper wrapping, etc.), plastic coated beverage boxes, milk and juice cartons, and the list goes on. Take a look. Web Link

Unless San Ramon is hiding all the collected items somewhere, they've obviously found a way to dispose of *all* recyclables. Doesn't it make you wonder what our problem is?

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Posted by John Hermannson
a resident of Parkside
on Sep 20, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Can we put shredded paper directly into this new bin, or do we have to bag it into a larger paper bag.

As consumers, we can create the market for recycled paper and plastic products, but have to be ready to pay the premium.

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Posted by Billie
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 21, 2009 at 11:51 am

OK, so, after finding out that San Ramon pretty much recycles everything, I decided to do a little more research on where Pleasanton, a town that likes to think of itself as "green", stood among the Alameda County towns with curbside recycling.

Web Link

Using the Alameda County Waste Management website "Recycling Wizard" I went through each town listed to see "What Can I Recycle Curbside." Of the 16 towns listed, I was only able to access the document on 14 (I got an error back on Hayward and Union City).

What I discovered is that Pleasanton has one of the *most limited* recyclables list in the County, similar to Piedmont, Berkeley and Emeryville. Hmmmmm, affluent, highly educated, activist . . . I have to think a minute about what that means.

Castro Valley, Fremont and San Lorenzo have a recycle list similar to San Ramon's, including wide mouth containers, plastic bags and milk/juice cartons. It looks like Dublin, Livermore, Oakland and Alameda take everything but plastic bags. Albany doesn't take wide mouth containers, but does take everything else including plastic bags. Several towns will work with residents to pick up motor oil, and oil filters.

I have to ask again, if there is a market for recyclables that other towns, especially those in Alameda County, have found, why isn't Pleasanton? That's a question I'll be asking the City.

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Posted by Curious
a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 21, 2009 at 2:55 pm

The way I interpreted the recycling guidelines was that anything with a recycling triangle with #'s 1 to 7 on it was able to be thrown in the recycle bin. At least, that is how I interpreted the notice I received.

I still fail to see how this will 1) increase our recycling rate in Pleasanton since not everyone is mandated to participate, sorting of the trash and recycling will still be required, and the City is limiting the materials to be recycled. 2) save the City any money since sorting will still be required and additional resources/trucks will be required to pick up the recycle bins.

The City has also made a huge error by not offering any incentive to residents to recycle. By charging a higher rate whether you participate in curbside recycling or not, sends the wrong signal. Those that decide to recycle should have a lower bill than those that do not. In fact, they should put in place a progressive rate system. The more you recycle, the lower your garbage bill!

Question to those of you still reading...why did the City do away with the food scraps program?

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 21, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Stacey is a registered user.


Thanks for your information. It does raise good questions. I just don't see why there would be a market for narrow-necked recyclable plastic and not one for wide-mouthed recyclable plastic. The material is the same (classified by the numbering system). Maybe it has something to do with PGS's sorting capabilities.

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Posted by Billie
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 21, 2009 at 6:45 pm

John H.,
The paper goes. Me, I'd bag it just so it didn't escape all over the street when PGS picks it up.

Until last week I also thought that Pleasanton was actually planning on recycling all recyclables as well, since the main reason to go to curbside recycling is to meet the 75% diversion goal. I still plan on sending anything with the triangle on it in the recycle cart. Maybe if enough of us contact the City we can get something done, although I'm betting it won't be lower bills! :0)

Oh, and the food scraps are supposed to go in the green waste cart.

When I checked out I noticed that there were codes assigned to the plastic recyclables. I found this website that lists the definitions for the codes and tells what each type can be recycled into. Web Link

I don't know . . . looks to me like there would still be a market for the ones that Pleasanton is trying to exclude.

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Posted by Steven
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 22, 2009 at 8:50 am

Awesome job for proving my point! I too am going put anything with a triangle in the cart. I think our city council need to re think this Pleasanton should be a leader not the lame duck! And I too think the garbage company is being lazy, I dont care if they take a loss recycling is the right thing to do putting it in a land fill is crimminal in my opinion

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Posted by Billie
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 22, 2009 at 9:14 am

I just shipped my latest letter off to the Mayor and Council. I'll be really interested in their response(s) to this issue. Steven, thanks for bringing this one to everyone's attention!!

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Posted by Robert
a resident of Valley Trails
on Sep 22, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I would echo most of the comments already made. I frequently feel that the "green" changes are made with an agreement between the city and PGS with little information going to the households prior to going into effect.

Generally, calls to PGS about rate increases are answered "the city approved it". It is my feeling that MANY of the calls "we" make to PGS could be addressed by PGS and the city by better communication.

Case in point: opting for a smaller refuse container meant waiting for a separate delivery of a smaller container and a relabeling of our present container for recycling. (Simply affixing a blue sticker.) On the same call, my wife found out that you could get on a list for a smaller recycling container as well (subject to availability). I never saw THAT advertised.

It's hard to put my finger on it, but I not happy with either PGS or the city on the way the contracts or the recycling is being handled. I'm not even sure that the "blue bagging" we've done for the past three years we've lived in Pleasanton helped. This would seem to be a very knowledgeable & progressive area but I too would like to see a disclosure on what is being recycled and what isn't, and why.

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Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Sep 22, 2009 at 2:42 pm

SteveP is a registered user.

I already miss the days when we paid employees at the transfer station to sort through the debris. There were a couple of dozen folks working there that were experienced in separating what should and should not go into landfills.
Now we have 60,000 inexperienced people still paying garbage rates as though we retained the services of this experienced employees.

Oh, and one more large ugly can to store on my property....nice.

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Posted by common sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Garbage is a terrible thing to waste!!!

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Posted by Tankman
a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2009 at 3:58 pm

The chasing arrows symbol on the bottom of plastic tubs does not mean they are necessarily recyclable, or that there are markets for the material. It is just an indicator of which resin the plastic is made from. Tubs are manufactured using a different process than bottles, so they cannot be recycled in the same stream. Bottles are generally more widely accepted than tubs. Tubs can be recycled, but have a lower value than bottles typically, so the hauler may have pushed to exclude them from the program.

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Posted by Kathleen
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Sep 22, 2009 at 4:03 pm

I am no expert, but as I understand it the triangles themselves do not necessarily mean it is a recyclable product. The number refers to the chemical make-up of the container, the recipe originally used to manufacture it. Various containers have no resale value on the open market because of the chemicals used to make it. Items with #1 and #2 in the triangle are fairly common and are highly recycled (milk bottles, water bottles) while others are not, like #8 which is often used to containerize laboratory grade chemicals. Bottom line, the triangle does not indicate recyclability and resale value, the number inside does. If there are no buyers in the market place to purchase yogurt containers, which are often #5, then it goes to the landfill.

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Posted by Ken in South Pleasanton
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 22, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Doesn't seem like a problem to me. My recycle can has a non-specific generic guide to 'recyclable' materials pasted to the top. The rest is up to my interpretation (as an inexperienced and untrained sorter of reclyclable material who doesn't really care to go back to school to learn it all) of that little plastic sticker. I've a broad definition of recyclable and intend to put a lot of stuff in that little can. In fact, I might need another one!

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Posted by Truth
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2009 at 8:02 pm

The contract between the city and the garbage company is corrupt...Pleasanton government paying tribute to special interests.......why else would the garbage company not have to help out the school distict with recycling.....special interest groups looked out for by government.....even in a small town.

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Posted by Tango
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Sep 22, 2009 at 11:58 pm

I agree with Ken . I'm going to put every thing plastic,( Not those I can get money for ), glass,cardboard and cans (not alum.) In my little recycle can. The ones I get money for I will take to recycle ,so may dog won't miss his dog biscut after we get our money and take ourselves to lunch. They give free dog biscuts if you have your dog with you. That may also be our lunch. We might ask for 3. P.S. Can anyone read those codes in the trangles? I know I can't. and I can read everything else that is printed in a fair sized script.

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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 23, 2009 at 2:22 am

OK Folks!!! You best watch what you put in your cans. Didn't you read where PGS said they intend to "monitor the neighborhoods" to make sure everyone is following the rules...

Wonder if this "monitor" will carry a badge/gun and issue citations...:) The "Garbage Police" have arrived!!!:)

If you put your recycle can out the night before collection day, wonder how long it will be before "someone" starts going through the can and pulling out all the items that can easily be converted to cash. They do this in some parts of San Diego. No sooner than the little baskets are put out, junk is all over the sidewalk...

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Posted by Marlene
a resident of Mission Park
on Sep 23, 2009 at 10:10 am

I completely agree with the previous assessment. The container industry spent billions to grade and stamp plastic items for recycling. It's a wasteful mistake to not devise a way for these things to go into the bin. We recycled them in the blue bags; what's different now?
I'm also very interested in knowing how recyclables will be sorted once they're collected, loose, in the trucks that deliver them to the "dump." How does someone, or the mechanical equipment, separate plastic from glass bottles from aluminum and tin from office paper and newspaper? If the City assumes 20 thousand households recycling once a week, that's a LOT of stuff to separate.

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Posted by John Flack
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Sep 23, 2009 at 10:35 am

Am I missing something?

The new plan just says include the paper in the can with all the rest of the recyclables.

IN the past, I religiously put every scrap of paper (receipts, junk mail, computer printouts, empty cereal boxes, etc.) into a blue bag, tied it up and assumed at the sorting center they could separate the cardboard if necessary.

If we just throw the paper into the bin, it will become part of the muck at the bottom of the bin and then the truck.

I have a friend in Pleasanton who is a VP for Waste Management, they have to do a lot of recycling for there clients. He was skeptical that the quality of paper currently going through Pleasanton's system could meet the minimum grade that paper recyclers want. How can it possibly be useful if its mixed with the gunk in the bin?


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Posted by Kathy
a resident of Country Fair
on Sep 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm

This recycling program is yet another government (albeit local small town government) waste of money so that some politician can boast that Pleasanton is truly a 'green' city. Now we are expected to read labels on plastic containers to be sure the 'right' ones go into the recycling bin. Are they kidding us? I will have to tape pictures on each of the three cans to make sure my family knows what goes where! Gee, I really have extra time in my day and space on my property to make this a priority. I'm sure the reason the employees at the Pleasanton Garbage Service are so nasty is they know they will be working harder than ever to sort out the mess. And, for all this we even get to pay more for our service! Yippee!

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Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

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Posted by Arroyo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I'm not going to change a thing about how I recycle at my household. PGS is not laying off any of the "sorters" and raised our rates by $5, as well. The little secret is that if you continue to put ALL recyclables in the large gray cans, they will continue to sort it, just like before. If you do not want the burden of trying to sort, or find a place for the extra can, simply phone PGS and they will have the can picked up. It is a voluntary program, and the recyclables get sorted whether you do it, or they do it. The distribution of the new cans is all about bringing their program into conformance with the target ratios, so they can qualify for recycling funds.

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Posted by Arroyo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2009 at 1:25 pm

John is wrong -- Kathy is right -- The people at PGS have been rude to callers about the program. And, PGS is simply trying to get all residents to do the job we're paying them to do. My household has always recycled cans, bottles, plastic, etc. We do not recycle paper products. The printed recycle instructions furnished by PGS are confusing.

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Posted by Jill
a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Sep 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm

From Marlene: "The container industry spent billions to grade and stamp plastic items for recycling. It's a wasteful mistake to not devise a way for these things to go into the bin. We recycled them in the blue bags; what's different now?"

Actually, Pleasanton Garbage will now be recycling MORE plastic containers than they did before. According to Web Link, with the blue bags you could only recycle "plastic soda bottles and milk and water jugs" (#1 and #2). Now they'll be accepting narrow-necked bottles of all types of plastic. IMO, that's an improvement.

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Posted by PO'ed
a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 23, 2009 at 2:02 pm

I'm putting plastic with the 1-7 triangles in the recycling bin, which in one place in the PGS info it says is acceptable. The wide-mouth thing seems contradictory, so that leaves me the freedom to select the part of the seeming contradictory information I choose.

If the PGS gestapo wants to make an issue of it, let them. First, I'll share with them my feelings about their ignorance, their rotten attitude and their arrogance. Then, I will enjoy raising HE-double-toothpicks with the City Council and our left wing loon Mayor.

Remember this fiasco at the next election for Mayor and Council - vote'm out!

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Posted by Young Codger
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 23, 2009 at 2:10 pm


Great post! I'm with you!

Go for raising a ruckus at the City Council. I'll be there too.

Hey, Jeb - (Portion removed by PLW Presidentdue to disrespectful comment) checking out this stinking (as in garbage) deal between the City and PGS. As the old saying goes, "Follow the Money!"

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Posted by Confused
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2009 at 1:50 pm


So, now I have 3 cans. Are they going to send 3 different trucks out to collect this keep it all seperated after all my work.

Or are they going to dump the trash can and recycle cans into the same truck?

I honestly don't know. If 2 (or more) of these cans are going into the same truck - then what the heck are we doing????


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Posted by Tango
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Sep 24, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Confused you are so right. If I get the chance when it comes time to use all three cans , I am going to stand outside and try to see how they are handled. I may have to get up fairly early. It may answer some of our question. Feel free to join the morning brigade.

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Posted by bitsy
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:58 pm


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ridgeview Commons

on May 30, 2017 at 5:31 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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