Recycling Cardboard and Aluminum

This is an article written by a KCCB Board of Directors member Linda Wright and published in the Plain Talk Newspaper.

Linda WrightRECYCLING – Now there’s a word that brings a reaction! Ask your co-workers, church friends…anyone, “Do you recycle?” You will get a different answer each time: “Who has time for that nonsense?” or “I know I should…” or “Sometimes, when I think of it” or “Oh, sure, do you?” Well, you get the idea.

Well, if you happen to be one of those folks who wonder what all the excitement is about, I have a story for you. I admit that I am a recycler (or is the word recyclist?) from way back. Anyone who knows me – Crista, Diana, Adele, Bob, Phil – they look sideways at me when they start to throw that aluminum can into the trash. Oops – they know better, but oh, what a hard habit to break! I say, “Thank heavens I am here; I just saved the energy it takes for three hours of watching TV – from 1 aluminum can! Didja know that? FYI: The aluminum can is infinitely recyclable. That means it can be used, recycled, and turned back into a new can endlessly. It takes 92% less energy to make a can from recycled aluminum than from raw materials. That’s good for the environment and for our pocketbooks!

Cardboard is just as interesting. I had decided to help out at the Cosby convenience center when they got more than a little behind with breaking down boxes and getting them to Sonoco. I must say I am very proud of all the folks who do recycle their cardboard. But with all your good intentions that are so appreciated, I did find out that many of you have not been informed about what cardboard is. So this is a test for your children if they happen to be in one my classes at Smoky Mountain or Cosby Elementary. Ask them the difference between cardboard and paperboard. Now, I hope they remembered. But if not, cardboard has two layers with a third middle layer that looks like ‘wwwwwww.’ Paperboard is just one layer – cereal and cracker boxes for instance. This makes a difference because Sonoco pays a lot more for cardboard. You can put the paperboard along with the paper in a separate container. It will help boost the weight of the paper, which means more money. Hooray!

So I filled my truck with 200 pounds of cardboard with the help of the very nice fellow who works at the convenience center, and off I flew down the road at no more than 40 mph – Heaven forbid cardboard be thrown off into some windshield behind me or even become litter at the road edge. I am also one of those nerdy people who picks up litter once in a while, so I know what it’s like to pick up wet, filthy, yucky pieces of cardboard!

Anyway, Sonoco is enough to make a recycling believer of you. I was awed and flabbergasted as I found myself in beautifully organized mazes of bundled cardboard and semis full of the stuff as far as the eye could see (maybe I exaggerate). All of it, I presume, to become brand new, clean cardboard! If you ever get the opportunity to visit Sonoco, I think it will make a recycling believer of you.

This has been, I hope, an informative message from Keep Cocke County Beautiful. I am Linda Wright – I have been associated with KCCB for about three years now because our passion is to encourage and educate our fellow citizens to take responsibility for improving our environment. If you have any questions, ideas, or comments, please call KCCB at 623-1050.

Did You Know? Recycled paper production = 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution than with tree production. Remember the problems with the Pigeon River? Remember, reduce, reuse, and recycle.


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