New program targets hard-to-recycle plastics

Use special orange bag to collect wrappers, straws, utensils etc.

COVINGTON, Ky. – The list of items that can be recycled in your curbside cart is about to greatly expand in Covington.

The City is among communities now participating in a program adopted by Hefty® Brand and Rumpke Waste & Recycling that will keep foam take-out containers, straws, candy wrappers, plastic utensils, and other hard-to-recycle plastics out of landfills.

The Hefty ReNew plastics recovery program requires newly accepted items to be placed together inside a special orange bag before being thrown into the recycling cart, according to a media release from the two companies.

Come November, the bags will be for sale at Kroger stores and online. In the meantime, residents can request a free Hefty ReNew™ starter kit at Starter Kit.

“Rumpke continues to invest heavily in our recycling programs to ensure our customers have access to the best available technologies and can recycle the most amount of material possible,” said Jeff Snyder, Rumpke’s Director of Recycling, in the release. “The introduction of the Hefty® ReNew™ program will further help our customers with their own waste reduction efforts and help us recover even more plastic material to be converted into new and useful items.”

Among the items that can be placed in the orange bags:

  • Candy wrappers.
  • Plastic utensils.
  • Foam egg cartons, carry-out containers, bowls, etc.
  • Plastic straws and stirrers.
  • Plastic colored cups.
  • Frozen food bags.
  • Cereal box liners.
  • Plastic food wrap and bags.
  • Plastic and foam shipping material.

A more complete list and more information about the program – including items that should not be included – can be found at Hefty ReNew™.

Those materials that are already accepted in the City’s free curbside program – such as cardboard, plastic bottles, cups, and tubs, glass jars, and cans – should still be placed loose in the cart. (Note the special orange Hefty ReNew™ bag is the only plastic bag – other than any plastic bags placed in it – that should be loose in the cart. In other words, don’t bag your “usual” recyclables.)

The program began in 2018 and has continued to expand in reach, with almost 800,000 households able to participate in communities in Georgia, Idaho, Nebraska, and Tennessee, according to Rumpke and Hefty®.

Covington officials lauded the program as a step forward in reducing the garbage from Covington that winds up buried in the ground.

“We receive many questions about how to handle hard-to-recycle things like wrappers and foam egg cartoons, and sadly up until now we could talk only about the limited – and time-consuming – options for doing that,” said Sheila Fields, Solid Waste & Recycling Manager for the City. “This program created by Hefty® and Rumpke will make it easier to recycle those things – you can do so right at your curb.”

But, Fields stressed, residents need to take a couple of minutes to make sure they know what should go in the orange plastic bag and what shouldn’t.

By the numbers

Some 61 percent of Covington households participate in the City’s curbside recycling program, according to the City’s CovData site. Over the last four fiscal years, anywhere from 2,300 to 2,450 tons of material a year has been recycled.