ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
A doublebill brought residents to the monthly Salisbury Township Environmental Advisory Council meeting in the township municipal building.
An estimated two dozen people, including about 15 residents, plus EAC officials and visiting experts, discussed the rules of the road when it comes to recycling and also the latest on the Spotted Lanternfly.
Addressing the EAC concerning recycling were Kent Larsen, division manager, Republic Services, the firm contracted to haul garbage in Salisbury and Sandy Eckhart, an EAC member.
Addressing the EAC concerning the Spotted Lanternfly and other invasive species was John Nissen, service forrester, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Each accompanied their talk with a PowerPoint presentation.
An estimated 25 to 35 percent of materials put out for recycling in Salisbury is “contaminated.” The term applies to recycling materials not properly handled by residents.
“Your contamination is from 25 to 35 percent, which is not bad,” Larsen said.
On average, the contamination rate among communities and businesses is about 25 percent. In other words, one in four items placed in a recycling container are not recyclable. This creates problems for the recycling economy.
“They have to manually go through it and take out contaminants,” Larsen said of workers at a recycling center.
“If there is anything that’s in the bottle, that’s considered contaminated and goes in the landfill,” Larsen said.
Residents must determine whether an item should be placed in a recycling bin or in the trash.
Plastic bottles and containers and metal cans must be washed clean of contents.
If a water bottle has a residue of water inside, it’s considered contaminated.
“Dry is 100 percent dry. Otherwise, it’s considered contaminated,” Larsen said.
Labels on plastic bottles or containers and metal cans must be removed.
The lining of a metal can, a soup can, for example, that may have an inside liner is considered contaminated.
“If it [a can] has insulated coating, it must go in the trash,” Larsen said.
According to Larsen, it takes 450 years for a water bottle, 500 years for a tin can and one million years for glass to disintegrate in a landfill.
“Pizza boxes can’t be recycled because of the grease,” Larsen said.
“Once cardboard gets wet, it can’t be recycled,” Larsen said.
Shredded paper should be placed in the trash, Larsen said.
Newspaper ad inserts, milk cartons and colored bottles can be recycled, according to Larsen, but Styrofoam egg cartons, as well as lightbulbs, mirrors and windows cannot be recycled.
A big problem in recycling is plastic bags. “The reason why your plastic bags aren’t recyclable is because it jams up the machines [at the recycling center],” Larsen said.
“And that drives up the cost and the township must absorb that cost,” Salisbury Township Assistant Manager Sandy Nicolo said.
Salisbury Township recycling materials are hauled to a waste management facility in Lower Nazareth Township.
“When in doubt, throw it out,” Larsen said of how to determine if an item should be recycled or not.
Some of the information concerning recycling was a surprise for many in the audience, even for those well-versed in environmental matters.
“I didn’t realize half of this stuff,” Jane Benning, a longtime EAC member, said.
Nicolo said the township government will step up programs to inform residents about recycling.
It was suggested students in the Salisbury Township School District be informed about recycling in order to share the information with parents at home.
“It starts with education,” Eckhart said.
“You know what causes all this? The importing of recycling in China. Now it must be 99.5 percent pure. They turn ships back,” Larsen said.
China’s 2017 World Trade Organization filing that banned dozens of scrap categories upended recycling economics worldwide, but especially in the United States.
Several in the audience commended Republic Services and its workers.
Information concerning recycling is at the Republic Services website: republicservices.com.
The next topic to be discussed was the Spotted Lanternfly. “I get calls all day long [about them],” Nissen said.
The Spotted Lanternfly was first confirmed Sept. 22, 2014, in Hereford, Berks County, by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
“Berks County is where it was located. Hereford is ground-zero. That’s where the shipping crate came in,” Nissen said.
“It’s here to stay. There’s not a lot we can do,” Nissen said of the Spotted Lanternfly.
The Spotted Lanternfly, a planthopper indigenous to China, India and Vietnam, has two pairs of red-colored wings, but jumps more than it flies. It’s considered a threat to agriculture businesses, including vineyards and fruit orchards. It’s preferred host is the Tree of Heaven.
“All of the orchards and vineyards in Berks County have been hit. Some went out of business,” Nissen said.
The Spotted Lanternfly pierces foliage and stems, sucking the sap and depositing a fluid that coats leaves and stems.
Nissen said the Spotted Lanternfly lays its eggs on any flat surface. “Its egg mass is gray and looks like dried mud,” Nissen said.
Nissen spoke about another invasive species, the Emerald Ash Borer, first detected in Pennsylvania in 2007 in Beaver County.
The Emerald Ash Borer is a beetle native to Asia that feeds on ash trees. Females lay eggs in bark crevices. This prevents the natural cycle of nutrients and growth, killing the tree.
Ash comprises 10 percent of Pennsylvania forests, Nissen said, adding, “Ninety-five percent of ash trees will die from the Emerald Ash Borer.
“The Louisville Slugger will have to switch. If you don’t harvest ash lumber now, it won’t be around in 10 years,” Nissen said.
“We have a major problem with invasive plants that are overtaking our forests and that are preventing new trees from growing,” Nissen added.
One of these is the Japanese Barberry, native to Japan and east Asia.
“If you don’t stay on top of invasives, it will take over,” Nissen said.
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry offers free advice to landowners regarding these topics and others, Nissen said.
The Salisbury Township Environmental Advisory Council is next scheduled to meet 7 p.m. Sept. 18, in the municipal building, 2900 S. Pike Ave.