Recycling program staff from Emmet County found extensive spray painting on a “mixed-containers” (bottles, jugs, jars, cups, trays, etc.) recycling bin located at the drop site behind Toski-Sands Plaza in Petoskey Monday morning. But, they report, the vandal may have been well-meaning, if misguided.
The paint specifically covered over small yellow decals with the message “no bags here.” The decals were placed on many mixed-containers bins this fall to address a problem with plastic bags being put in the mixed-containers bins. Plastic bags are recyclable but belong in the “papers-boxes-and-bags” bin or curbside rolling carts.
Emmet County Recycling (ECR) collects plastic bags with the paper and boxes because the factory that recycles the plastic bags—Trex, a manufacturer of composite decking—needs the bags to be dry. The mixed-containers come with enough residual liquids to contaminate the film-plastic bags.
The painter left no other marks on the bin, leading ECR communications coordinator Kate Melby to conclude that they vandal may have thought the yellow decals were inaccurate. “They may have been advocating for plastic-bag recycling. Many people think—intuitively—that plastic bags go with the other plastics: in the mixed containers with the plastic bottles, cups, tubs, and trays. Perhaps this individual thought someone else put the yellow decals there. They do look pretty foreign on our green and blue bin labels.”
The yellow “no bags here” decals were born of Melby’s aversion to waste. She was having some large round labels made for ECR’s motor-oil-recycling tanks and could not stand to see the material in the middle of the circle go to waste. “I got thinking about how I could put that extra decal space to good use. Bags in the mixed-containers is one of our biggest challenges, so I thought I’d give this a try.” The extra label material provided 144 of the two-inch diameter yellow decals.
It will cost the recycling program a couple hundred dollars to replace the damaged labels. Anyone with information on the vandalism is asked to contact Emmet County Recycling at 231-348-0640 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our message is, recycle your plastic bags in the papers-boxes-and-bags bin.” said Melby. “And if you think our signage needs editing, please just call or message us!”