A Tale of Recycling

Lexington recycling policies as of Feb. 2021

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Three common words either ingrained into your mind, or not taught to you at all. Recycling education often varies with some schools teaching the sustainable practice at a young age, while others choose to ignore the topic. The lack of education ties back into recycling itself, which remains optional in all FCPS schools, including Lafayette.

Lafayette is lucky to have our own brave hero by the name of Ms. Regnier, who not only advocates for sustainable practices within Lafayette, but helps to make the transition to classroom recycling as easy as possible. Ms. Regnier has taken her time to create an entire webpage listing the specific details about recycling at Lafayette.

The guidelines for recycling are as follows:

Email [email protected] to request a recycling bin for your classroom. DO NOT use a cardboard box for recycling in your room. It will be removed as trash.
Place the bin in an area AWAY from the exit door (preferably near the teacher’s desk if possible). Students are much more intentional with recycling correctly when bins are placed away from exits, and they can be monitored more easily. Bins near the doors collect trash.
Teach students that only the following materials may be recycled:
PAPER IS NO LONGER BEING RECYCLED until further notice! (NO paper of any kind. No glossy paper/magazines with glue bindings; NO colored paper. NO paper towels, NO food wrappers, NO paper ream wrappers in copier room)
Cardboard – must be flattened!
CLEAN glass
CLEAN plastic bottles (NO bottle caps — these must be recycled separately; NO plastic bags of ANY KIND)
Bottle caps – please put these into the bins in the hallway, not the classroom bins.
Monitor your classroom bin and remove any materials that are not recyclable (idea: assign students to help monitor it)
When the bin becomes full, have 2 students empty it in the recycling dumpster in the back parking lot. One student can stand at the door while the others dump into the recycling dumpster. Students must make sure the dumpster lid is CLOSED.
Do NOT allow the bin to overflow into the classroom. This becomes a cleanliness issue for custodians and a safety issue. Empty it regularly.
Teach and reteach recycling procedures in your classroom. If it becomes too difficult to monitor or empty your classroom bin, please email Tina Sparks to remove your bin. The recycling program is voluntary.
These are great practices to maintain at school and at home, with the city following a similar set of guidelines.
The usually progressive city of Lexington received a bad reputation when it was announced in May of 2019 that the city would no longer be collecting paper products. Paper is often the poster child of the recycling game, so why would a city that holds a history of supporting all things recycling, such as Lexington, just abruptly stop collection?
Recycling, like many things in the world, is based on a profit system. The waste materials are collected, sorted, and then sold to other nations to be manufactured into new products. The main purchaser of recycled waste is China. In 2019 the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and the Environment made the decision to dramatically reduce their intake of recycled goods. This destroyed the global market and ruined the value of many recyclable goods, especially paper. While large cities and affluent communities were able to cut their losses and move on, many smaller cities, like Lexington, had to reconsider the whole operation.
Following that announcement from China in 2019, the city of Lexington (though not private companies like Rumpke) decided to cut paper out all together. This decision still remains today, but some major changes have occurred within the last year. In January of 2020, Mayor Linda Gorton announced that seven paper recycling locations have been created within the Lexington area, these include:
Masterson Station Park, 3051 Leestown Road
Constitution Park, 1670 Old Paris Road
Veterans Park, 650 Southpoint Dr.
Good Foods Coop, 455 Southland Dr.
Lexington Recycle Center, 360 Thompson Road
Pleasant Ridge Park, 1350 Pleasant Ridge Dr.
Lexington Herald-Leader, 100 Midland Ave.
All of these sites still remain active, and the containers can be seen by their bright yellow complexion. These separate sites are for clean paper only, which includes, “Office paper, paper mail, newspaper, magazines and catalogs.” This does not include shredded paper as the shredded fibers are too short to produce new products.
In November of 2020, the recycling center announced that it would now be collecting paperboard, which includes, “Gift boxes, cereal boxes, shoe boxes, wrapping paper rolls, toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls, along with brown paper grocery bags.” These may all go into your home recycling bin, unlike paper. This does not include soda boxes, waxy drink cartons, or frozen food boxes, as these should always go into the trash due to the films or linings they may contain.
With all the updates stated above, the city of Lexington’s recycling policies are as follows:
The following are accepted in your blue home recycling bin:
Plastic screw-top bottles and jugs (two-liter soda bottles, laundry detergent bottles, non-reusable water bottles.)
Glass bottles and jars
Paperboard (Tissue boxes, cereal boxes, some food boxes.)
Aluminium and steel cans
DRY cardboard (Shipping boxes, pizza boxes, etc.)
The following are accepted in special locations only:
Paper (Office paper, paper mail, newspaper, magazines and catalogs.)
All electronic devices. (Can be recycled at 1306 Versailles Road.)
The following are not accepted, and/or recyclable:
Shredded paper paper
Wet or destroyed cardboard
Plastic bags
Bungee cords
Christmas lights (Christmas lights can be recycled at the Electronic Recycling Center.)
Clothes (Several charities will accept clothing and other cloth items for reuse.)
Chains (There is a special metal recycling dumpster located at the Recycling Center. Chains should not be put in curbside recycling carts or recycling dumpsters.)
Pyrex or plate glass
Packaging intended for the refrigerator or freezer: soft drink carrier cases, frozen-food boxes, etc.
Styrofoam containers
Clam shell packaging / plastic containers with removable lids
Disposable cups, hot or cold
Plastic yogurt cups
Wrapping and tissue paper
The highs and lows of the recycling world are obviously riveting, but according to Ms. Regnier, “FCPS currently pays $70,000 per year for trash dumpster pickup, but the recycling dumpsters are picked up for free! FCPS saves $40,000 a year when all schools recycle since it cuts down on the number of times the garbage dumpsters have to be picked up. Recycling not only reduces our carbon footprint, and is good for the earth, but it also saves our school district money! [data from FCPS Sustainability office].”
Recycling has a real impact, and not just on the environment, but on the use of taxpayer money, and the funding of local education. Every time you toss a bottle into the recycling bin, you are making a real impact, and you should be proud of your valiant efforts. Stay green Lexington.

For more information on Lexington recycling, visit: https://www.lexingtonky.gov/recycle
For more information on Lafayette Recycling, visit: http://lregnier.weebly.com/recycling.html