The Green Leaf

Recycling cans & bottles 101

August 1st, 2013
Reporters drink a lot of soda. These aluminum cans of Pepsi and Coke went to Reynold's Recycling. Photo by Nina Wu.

Reporters drink a lot of soda. These aluminum cans of Pepsi and Coke went to Reynold's Recycling. Photos by Nina Wu.

Let's just say reporters drink a lot — of soda and water, I mean.

All those cans of soda and plastic bottles of water add up if you recycle them.

For the Star-Advertiser Today staff alone, it amounted to $37.80 after hundreds of bottles and cans collected over six months were redeemed at Reynold's Recycling. Sure, it takes up space and requires sorting and transporting (which can be a pain), but it's well worth the effort.

Our drink and snacks vendor just came in to refill two cases of soda (each case includes 24 sodas). He says we go through about four to five cases a week (do the math and that's  between 96 to 120 bottles). So actually, if we recycled bottles from the entire newsroom, that could potentially be much, much more...!

It's interesting how the bottle bill in Hawaii (enacted in 2005) has changed the way we look at bottles with economic value rather than another piece of trash to throw away and add to our overflowing landfills. True, there is controversy over how it's implemented, (and the program's badly managed, according to an audit last year), plus the handling fee went up by a half-cent last year, but it has boosted our recycling rate.

Though you can't see the immediate effect, there has to be some value in diverting this stuff from the landfills.

Here's a look at recycling:

After setting up a collection center in our office, we brought four large trash bags full of aluminum cans and three kitchen-sized trash bags full of plastic bottles to Reynold's Recycling. When you go, expect to hear a cacaphony of sounds – the clatter of aluminum and glass being poured from one trash can to another and the smell of fermented juice.

The Tomra Reverse Vending Machines at Reynold's Recycling let you count each and every can and bottle (worth 5 cents apiece). When done, it will spit out a receipt with your count to redeem at the front counter..

The Tomra Reverse Vending Machines at Reynold's Recycling let you count each and every can and bottle (worth 5 cents apiece). When done, it will spit out a receipt with your count to redeem at the front counter.

You can either put each can and bottle into a reverse vending machine, one by one, to get 5-cents or have them weighed. There are different machines for plastic, glass and aluminum. This can be time-consuming and requires a lot of repetition, but the machines work pretty smoothly, overall. Sometimes the machines can't read the barcode on the can or bottle, and will reject it.

A small can of V-8 didn't make it.

Some people say you get more by counting each bottle (up to 200 or less must be counted upon the customer's request), but in the end, it's probably just a matter of cents. So you can do it if you have the time, or just go up to the front counter to have your recyclables weighed. Crushing aluminum cans saves space but can't go through the machine.

Just pour all of your sorted recyclables into one of the trash cans with wheels on site and roll it up to the counter. Here are instructions, in case you're not sure what to do.

One of the guys at Reynold's, seeing the big load, was nice enough to step in and help feed the bottles in the machines. He did two at a time (requires coordination). Also, if you feed plastic bottles into the machine, make sure you remove all the caps first because they will jam it up.

Cha-ching! We redeemed roughly 700 aluminum cans and 56 plastic bottles for a total of $37.50.

Cha-ching! We redeemed roughly 700 aluminum cans and 56 plastic bottles for a total of $37.50.

In the end, it was astonishing just how many beverages we consumed in the office. We had a total of about 700 aluminum cans plus 56 plastic bottles. The total for that was $37.80.

Reynold's has dozens of locations —  from Ala Moana to 555 South St. in Kakaako, Aina Haina, Mililani, Pearl City, Wahiawa, Haleiwa, Waianae Boat Harbor and Waikiki. Click here for a full list of locations.

If you can't be bothered to redeem your bottles for 5 cents each, then just toss them into your blue bin for curbside pickup (or you can donate to a non-profit which could use the funds). Organizations like the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii actually schedule a time to come pick up your donated goods, including recyclable beverage containers.

By the way, Reynold's also takes glass jars and wine bottles (ask how much they offer per pound). Staring July 1, 2014, you can also bring dietary supplement containers in for a nickel each. Happy recycling!

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