ENTERPRISE — Some changes for the better are coming to the recycling center in Enterprise, courtesy of the new Wallowa County Recycling Task Force.

On Monday, July 13, the volunteer group posted new, informative signs to help “customers” sort recyclables into the correct bins. The group has developed an informative brochure. They will have volunteer “recycling coaches” at the center during July to answer questions and provide assistance. And best of all, there will be prizes and prize drawings for recyclers.

Aluminum and tin cans will be accepted again at the center, beginning July 13. The task force also is providing a container for glass, which will be transported to the Ant Flat Landfill’s new glass-collection area.

The task force is asking for the public’s cooperation in making the plastics that are collected more “saleable.”

“Although we’ve all been led to believe any plastic with the triangle and chasing arrows symbol on the bottom can be recycled, currently in Oregon only No. 1 and No. 2 plastics, like milk jugs and juice/beverage bottles can be milled into recycled products,” said task force member Randi Jandt. “That doesn’t include those hard plastic ‘clamshells’ that you get salads or sandwiches in at the grocery store — even though they may say No. 1.”

Jandt said that by being pickier and bringing in only clean, appropriate plastics, without lids, the recycling center can sell its plastics for a lot more money, bringing the cost of recycling down and potentially providing more services in the future.

“Unfortunately,” she said, “the best and only place for many plastics, including yogurt and cottage cheese containers, right now is actually the landfill.”

The main thrust of the task force-county partnership is to recycle more, and more efficiently, and more profitably. To do that, Jandt said, trash and nonrecyclables have to be absent from the recycle bins. That will clean up Wallowa County’s recycle bales and increase their value. People who bring materials to the recycling center can help by putting only the things that are appropriate into the bins.

The new signs and the volunteer recycling coaches can help with this.

In other developments, the paper bales are now covered by large donated tarps to keep them from degrading in wet weather, and allow the county to get a better price for paper. The county will soon add a ramp to facilitate loading smaller, covered market shipments.

Other parts of the plan include investigating new buyer options, developing a community outreach program and initiating fundraising efforts. A donation box to help cover the cost of some upgrades and materials will soon be going up at the center.

If successful, these efforts will help extend the lifespan of the Ant Flat Landfill, strengthen the economic sustainability of the recycling program, and increase Wallowa County’s current recycling rate from 24% closer to the state average of 41%.

Training for volunteer recycling coaches will be offered online with the launch of a new informative Facebook page. To learn more or support recycling efforts, you can email the task force at wallowacountyrecycling@gmail.com.

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