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Recycle is theme for event

by Andy Bourelle

The Nevada Recycling Coalition is encouraging Douglas County businesses, residents and government agencies to buy recycled.

A free and open-to-the-public Douglas County Recycling Roundtable is scheduled Wednesday night at the Carson Valley Inn. Educating people about the importance of buying recycled products is the purpose of the presentation.

“Everyone is welcome,” said Tom Polikalas, coordinator of the Nevada Recycling Coalition.

While many people may have much of their trash collected for recycling, Polikalas said, most don’t know to “close the loop” by buying recycled products.

Although buying recycled may sometimes be hard, because of the difficulty in finding the items, Polikalas said it can be done – and without additional cost.

One example is recycled motor oil. Polikalas said Wal-Mart carries a brand of recycled motor oil, which is actually less expensive than other brands, but still of high quality.

Even though there are 5,000 to 6,000 different types of recycled products, finding them may be difficult. However, Polikalas encourages people to ask store managers if they carry certain recycled products, and if not, then to please start. The more demand there is for recycled products, the easier it will become to purchase them.”I’ve seen some studies that say 1 percent of consumers asking for a product can shift an entire market,” he said.

Buying recycled does not just apply to residents. Businesses and government agencies can make a big difference by purchasing recycled products, without costing them additional money.

An example is the government of Washoe County, who uses only recycled motor oil for its vehicles – and saves $30,000 a year by doing it.

Five speakers will talk at the roundtable, educating participants about buying recycled.

How to identify recycled products is something that will be discussed. Polikalas said people should look for post-consumer content on a product. The Nevada Recycling Coalition encourages people to purchase products with at least 20 percent post-consumer content.

Practically any product can say it is recyclable and have a logo on it, but only recycled-content products have been recycled.

The Recycling Roundtable will not just be about finding recycled products, however. One speaker, John Whitney, will be talking about businesses’ ability to re-use products.

His Northern Nevada business, Itronics Metallurgical, takes waste from photography chemicals and re-uses it for beneficial purposes. The company extracts silver from photo chemicals and is able to convert the remaining waste to high-performance agricultural fertilizers.

“He did this with photo waste. What can you do with old pallets or old tires or something like that?” said Polikalas.

Polikalas said a non-profit New York-based company called Bronx 2000 takes old pallets and converts them into furniture and floorboards for the poor.

“Nobody is doing anything like that in Nevada, but that is not rocket science,” he said.

Many opportunities exist in Nevada for innovative people to make money by re-using products.

“Stimulating people creatively is something we hope to do,” Polikalas said. “Recycling can benefit the environment and create jobs. Recycling at its best has environmental benefits and economic benefits as well.”

In addition to the main speakers, other presenters will be there introducing themselves to the community. South Tahoe Refuse will be present, giving information about Lake Tahoe’s Municipal Recovery Facility. Full Circle Compost owner Craig Witt will be providing information about composting in Douglas County.

While the main focus will be on buying recycled, other types of recycling and energy-conservation information will be available.

The program is scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and Polikalas encourages anyone who cannot make it to the whole program to stop by and pick up printed information which will be available.

If anyone cannot make the presentation, but still wants information, Polikalas encourages people to call him at (702)-786-5401. The number is long distance, and the Valley contact who can pass the message on to Polikalas is Marion Barritt at 782-7353.

Polikalas said the Division of Environmental Protection Recycling Office has recently published a handbook titled the “Guide to Recycled Products and Services in Nevada,” which is written as an aid to Nevadans who want to help in the recycling effort.

Also, any questions about recycling can be answered by calling the offices’ recycling hotline at 1-800-597-5865, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Polikalas said all residents – school children, business owners, government officials and anyone else – are encouraged to attend Wednesday’s conference.

“The need for education is so great,” Polikalas said. “It’s a great opportunity for the community.”

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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