Do pizza boxes count as corrugated cardboard? Can I compost noxious weeds? Do I really have to remove the lid from my Gatorade bottle? The county transfer station will accept grayboard, right? Didn’t I hear someone was collecting old toothbrushes?
If you have ever found yourself poised over the recycling bin with an item in hand, questions racing through your mind, now there’s a better option than “wish-cycling,” i.e. hoping something is recyclable and tossing it the incorrect bin. Just text (don’t call) the Teton Valley Community Recycling hotline at 208-557-1193 and an actual human will respond to you with the answer, and will probably give a good explanation about the policy too. You can even include photos of your puzzling item, to get the most specific answer possible.
Wish-cycling, TVCR executive director Iris Saxer explained, can be inconvenient at best and extremely detrimental to the system at worst. When you try to recycle items that aren’t accepted locally, waste haulers and staff at the transfer station have to do more work, and sometimes a contaminated recycling load (caused by that pizza box slipped into a corrugated dumpster, for instance) will have to be disposed of entirely.
“It’s such a shame for someone to collect all of their bottles with lids on them and bring them all the way to the recycling center only to have them all end up in the landfill because they left the lids on—this is in fact what happens Take those lids off and throw them away and rinse your bottle. If in doubt, throw it out—or better yet, text us for the answer,” Saxer said.
It’s important to remember that the TVCR Text to Recycle hotline isn’t automated, so you won’t receive an instant response—expect to hear back in 24-48 hours based on staff capacity. Jackson Integrated Solid Waste & Recycling will soon be rolling out the free “Recycle Coach” app, a pre-programmed bot which can answer your question instantly but will focus on traditional recycling and is specific to Teton County, Wyoming.
Just a reminder: TVCR is a nonprofit organization focused on education, advocacy, and helping the community effectively divert waste. TVCR isn’t the local waste hauler, so if you text them with questions about RAD Curbside service schedules or rates, you will be directed to contact that company. TVCR also doesn’t manage the transfer station, the county does. TVCR is not a regional entity and won’t have answers for questions that don’t pertain to Teton County, Idaho.
“We are hyper local,” Saxer said. “It is always critical to know your local recycling requirements if you want to recycle right. It’s all based on local capacity, markets, infrastructure, tax base and community investment. There are absolutely no national or global standards on recycling. We certainly wish there were.”
It probably goes without saying that TVCR will not respond to hostile, toxic or spam messages.
But if you want to know whether your blueberry carton is recyclable, or want details about the TerraCycle program or Bags to Benches initiative, don’t hesitate to text 208-557-1193.
“Our answers will focus both on short answer about recycling plus some background on why and/or waste reduction tips because TVCR is much more passionate about reducing waste upstream (Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair) than we are about recycling, but we do want to help people recycle right if they are going to make the effort to do it,” Saxer said.