I believe in recycling so I recycle. The problem is those way-too-tiny plastic recycle bins of the same colors, which barely hold one week’s worth of used bottles, plastics and paper, much less two weeks’ since pickup is every other week. I feel guilty if I’m not loyally sorting and separating, but inevitably it turns into a battle of shoving and stuffing to make it all fit. I long for closing my eyes and tossing all of my recyclables into one big fat bin of forgiveness.

Single stream recycling in NevadaSo you can believe I did cartwheels when the county commission recently announced the approval of the single stream recycling program for homes in unincorporated Clark County. Hallelujah! That will eventually add another 210,000 residences to the list of lucky recyclers already on the more convenient system. I’ve followed and written about Republic Services’ recycling battle plan over the years, gaining ground one small victory at a time with each municipality. Right now, with the cities of Henderson and North Las Vegas along with various HOAs’ pilot programs in the city of Las Vegas, there are about 165,000 homes which have traded in those annoying little bins for a better way.

Bob Coyle, director of recycling for Republic, said the recycling processing center is at capacity, and the state’s recycling rate has reached an historic high. “We’re going to build a new $25 million facility that we expect to complete by the end of 2015.” Seventy tons of materials an hour will be sorted by computer and pushed through the plant. That’s a testament to the community’s change of eco-heart.

So what is so darn sexy and exciting about single stream? Just knowing that all of those materials you’ve spent so much time keeping apart in the past can now co-mingle in the same large container. Approved paper, plastic, cardboard, cans, even the weekend wine bottles, can all be tossed into one tall, handsome 96-gallon wheeled cart and steered to the curb once a week. Smaller 65 and 35-gallon carts are available for you single gals or smaller families. The idea is to make recycling easier and more convenient so more people will actually do it. What a concept!

According to Coyle, it is working. “Once the program is implemented in a community, the recycling rate always jumps from around just three percent to 25 or 30 percent.” And surveys taken of participating residents score a whopping 85 percent in satisfaction.

Tracy Skenandore, area director of marketing and public relations for Republic, said opting out of the recycling revolution is like throwing away our future. “We need to think about ways to live more sustainable lifestyles at home, work and school. As consumers, if we don’t take ownership of recycling, those valuable materials can’t be repurposed and remanufactured.”

Some residents are still resistant, not wanting to give up that second trash pick-up day each week, in order to have weekly recycling. But the beauty of single stream, if you practice it with gusto, is that your garbage is so reduced that you don’t need that second trash day.

As this article goes to print, Republic tells me that meetings are scheduled with the city council. Coyle says if they finally waive the white flag, it will be the biggest victory yet and the program will proudly add another 140,000 homes beginning in 2016. God Bless America and God Bless recycling.

Sherry Swensk Las VegasSherry Swensk produces the daily segment “Living Green for Las Vegas” for 8 News Now. Read her blog at green.lasvegasnow.com. Stay up to date with Sherry on Facebook and Twitter Facebook.com/SherrySwensk and @SherrySwensk

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