Let’s Make Nevada Green

I admit that when you’re looking down at the ground from thousands of feet up through your aircraft window, things tend to appear beautiful. But even that knowledge cannot prepare you for the stunning beauty sprawling underneath you as your aircraft starts to descend into Nevada.

Vast stretches of arid land, majestic mountains and psychedelic lights welcome you to the Silver State. You cannot help but be awestruck by the stark beauty that surrounds you everywhere.

We, the residents of Nevada, should feel privileged to be part of such a magnificent state. But along with privilege comes responsibility – the responsibility to ensure our state continues to look beautiful and enthrall visitors and residents alike.

But more than that, it is our responsibility to make sure that we keep our state clean and green. It’s our responsibility to make Nevada sustainable for our future generations. The state has many well-guarded treasures and it’ll be a shame if at some point – any point – in future it becomes uninhabitable.

Recycling in Nevada

Ok, that sounded more somber than I intended. I am not an alarmist and that really wasn’t my intention. In fact, I am a firm believer in the power of the human spirit to mend things and make them right.  It is my faith in this human spirit that leads me to believe that Nevada will continue to wow people for a long, long time to come.

One tiny step in that direction is to make the recycling programs of our state a roaring success and it can’t happen without our active participation.

In fact, if it weren’t for our involvement, the state would not have been able to reach its recycling goal of 25% – a goal that was adopted by the Nevada legislature way back in 1991 and achieved two decades later in 2011.

According to the 2013 recycling report of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP), the state generated 3,530,908 tons of municipal solid waste in 2011 of which 892,837 was recycled resulting in a 25.3% recycling rate. That’s something to be proud of because that was made possible by you!

Recycling Programs

The State legislature has outlined minimum recycling services to be provided to the residents of Nevada. The law requires counties with a population of 100,000 or more to provide residential curbside collection services. These are essentially the two counties of Clark and Washoe.

In addition to curbside collection service, these counties are also required to establish recycling centers as needed and provide for collection and disposal of household hazardous waste. For example, the State is required to establish recycling facilities in Nevada, where residents can drop off their recyclable waste. Same holds true for other cities in Clark and Washoe counties.

Counties with a population of 45,000 to 100,000, on the other hand, are at the least required to establish recycling centers and provide services for collection and disposal of household hazardous waste. Such counties may also provide curbside collection services to residents as is being done in Carsen City and the City of Elko even though they’re not required by the law to do so.

In addition to recycling centers established by the state, residents of Nevada also have the option of selling certain recyclables – scrap metal, e-waste, and white goods – at private scrap yards operated by companies like SIMS Metal Management.

The NDEP also conducts educational and informational outreach programs to foster a culture of recycling in the state. Additionally, the division operates a toll-free hotline to provide residents information on some common as well as unusual recyclable materials.

Eye on the future

One of the key goals of the State is to promote and encourage single-stream recycling, which allows residents to place all acceptable recyclables in one bin. By eliminating the need to separate out items, single-stream recycling makes the entire process easier and much more convenient.

The success of single-stream recycling in the counties that have piloted it is the reason why the State is pushing for the program in a big way. According to the NDEP report, single-stream collection has been shown to increase the recycling rates to 50% and higher in the communities that have adopted it.

In Clark County, the pilot single-stream recycling programs have resulted in a 500-600% increase in recycling rates. The city of Las Vegas has already incorporated the single-stream program, while it will be rolled out in Reno by the end of this year.

The State is doing everything it can to make recycling a way of life for the residents of Nevada. It’s up to us now to make it a success. So, start recycling because we owe it to our beautiful state!

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