Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don't Recycle Those TP Tubes

I couldn't help noticing that St. Paul's curbside recycling service, Eureka Recycling, specifically excludes the tubes from toilet paper and paper towels. I could never figure out why. Maybe because bits of the other kind of paper are stuck to the tube?

I ran into someone who works for Eureka recently and got a chance to find out, so here goes: The tubes are already made from fibers that have been recycled multiple times, and so they're very short. That means they need to be held together with binding agents that aren't recyclable.

So remember -- you can reuse the tubes in an art project, or you can compost them like I try to, but you can't recycle them. At least in St. Paul and anywhere else served by Eureka, and, given the reason, it seems like this would be true of all paper recycling.

Toilet paper tube with a red circle and slash over it


Michael Leddy said...

My trash/recycling service has no such rule. I often wonder though how much of our stuff does indeed get recycled.

Terry McDanel said...

I had the same question, but was not fortunate enough to ask a Eureka employee. Thanks for the post.

But the process of googling the question to find your answer, i observed something else. Eureka is the only recycling service i could find that specifically forbids them. And there are many recycling services.

I am careful not to drop in anything forbidden or dangerous, but i have never worried too much about accidents because imagine the size of the waste stream of paper flowing out of St Paul. Worry about toilet paper tubes?

As it happens, in my early twenties when Earth Day was young, i worked in a paper recycling plant in Joliet, Illinois for 6 months. Huge bails of bundled paper and cardboard were dropped into huge mixers with boiling water that would blend it all into sludge, screen it, and pump it to the paper rolling machines. I was a lowly "5th hand", the least experienced guy on the line. It was my job to grunt and i never made it to 4th hand. So take the opinion for what its worth, but it was obvious that, tho the bails were sorted for fiber size, depending on the "paper grade" to be made, that a toilet paper tube here or there would be a non-issue.

Putting minor requirements in people's way will not allow them to reach their "zero-waste" goal.

- Ashland Ave, St Paul