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Courtesy Photo. Tommy Ogas, recycling manager with the Southwest Solid Waste Authority, standing in front of the new baler that has saved the town 25,000 and hundreds of man hours, as a compressed bale of mixed recycling is pushed out and automatically tied with wire.
Courtesy Photo. Tommy Ogas, recycling manager with the Southwest Solid Waste Authority, standing in front of the new baler that has saved the town 25,000
Courtesy Photo. Tommy Ogas, recycling manager with the Southwest Solid Waste Authority, standing in front of the new baler that has saved the town 25,000 and hundreds of man hours, as a compressed bale of mixed recycling is pushed out and automatically tied with wire. (null)

SILVER CITY >> The Silver City office of Sustainability has partnered with PNM to help people save money on their electric bill and is giving away free CFL lightbulbs. Anyone who has electrical service from PNM can take advantage of this community compact fluorescent light bulb distribution program.

Replacing a standard 60 watt incandescent bulb with the free 15 watt CFL bulb can save $9 a year on your electric bill if you use the bulb five hours a day, as it uses 75 percent less electricity. These CFL's also is 25 percent brighter than a standard 60 watt incandescent, and should last 13 times longer than an incandescent bulb.

Since CFL bulbs have a small amount of mercury in them when they do finally burn out they should be recycled or properly disposed of. They can be recycled either at the annual electronic waste recycling event for Earth Day in April of every year or by taking them to Ace Hardware. To dispose of a burned out CFL bulb in the trash wrap it in several paper towels and place it in a sealable zip-lock style plastic bag. If you should break a CFL inside a building open the windows, leave the room and allow at least 15 minutes for it to air out then carefully clean up the broken glass and discard it in a sealable bag with paper towels.

You can pick up your free CFL bulbs from the Office of Sustainability at 1106 North Pope Street, the old Shamrock gas station, any Tuesday or Wednesday from 8 a.m. to to 5 p.m. Just bring in your old incandescent bulbs and get free replacement CFLs while the supply lasts. For more info, call 575-575-519-8987.

In other money-saving news, the town is saving money at the Southwest Solid Waste Authority with the use of a new baler that it bought with $200,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Stimulus Funds it was awarded in 2012. The new baler has improved recycling efficiency by reducing the time it takes to bale recycled items. What used to take two people at least one hour, can now be done by one person in less than 10 minutes. The baler has been fully operational for one year now and has processed almost 2,000 bales of either cardboard or mixed recycling with a total weight of about 1,200 tons. Also, by compressing and baling the mixed recycling, more can fit on a truck to be taken to Tucson. Instead of 81 trips for this amount of recycling, it only took 53 trips to transport the mixed recycling. That is about 10,000 miles less in transportation costs, an estimated savings of about $25,000.

Some of the cardboard was sold to Western Fibers in Okla. to be made into blow-in insulation. The insulation was returned to Silver City for use by two local companies, Santa Clara Woodworks and Gila Wood Products. The rest of the cardboard was sold through the Rural Recycling Resources Marketing Cooperative (R3 Coop), which serves as a broker for smaller community recycling programs. The R3 Coop ensures a fair price for materials by working closely with regional recycling hubs and with end-markets to coordinate efficient transportation. The R3 Coop was also made possible with ARRA funding to the New Mexico Recycling Coalition.

The baled mixed recycling was sold to ReCommunity Recycling in Tucson. Their facility in Tucson was opened just over a year ago and uses state of the art technology capable of high speed mechanical and optical sorting with minimal manual input. ReCommunity accepts a wide range of materials for recycling using a process termed single stream recycling.

With single stream recycling, Grant County residents don't need to sort their materials for recycling. All recycleable items, except glass, can be mixed together. Paper, plastic and aluminum and metal cans can all go in curbside recycling bins if you live in Silver City or in the roll-off recycling drop off containers around the county. The items will get sorted in Tucson. In fact, it is better not to put your papers in one bag and plastics in a separate bag, just put them all together in your bin. The only thing that needs to be in a separate container is glass which is used locally by Fowler Brothers Construction for road base.

There are also now more types of paper that can be recycled. In addition to cardboard, phone books, newspapers, magazines and office paper, junk mail, colored papers, paperback books and paperboard, such as cereal boxes are all recycleable as well. Also included are milk and juice cartons and aseptic cartons or tetrapaks, like what boxed soups are packed in. The types of plastics accepted are now much greater also. Virtually any plastic can be recycled except Styrofoam. If it has a recycling number 1, 2, 4, 5 or 7 on it then it is can be recycled. Even hard plastics like laundry hampers or old recycling bins can be recycled.

The Town of Silver City has set a goal of increasing the rate of recycling to 33 percent in the next four years. The current rate is 22 percent. Recycling bins were on backorder for awhile but are now in stock. If you live inside the town of Silver City limits and would like to request a bin, call 575-538-8051. There is no charge for recycling.

For more information, call Southwest Solid Waste Authority at 575-538-8051 or the Town of Silver City Office of Sustainability at 575-519-8987.

The Office of Sustainability has a mission of creating greater community resiliency by promoting water conservation, waste reduction, recycling, energy efficiency and renewable energy. With previous grant funding, they provided energy efficiency upgrades for more than 800 homes in Grant County that saved an estimated $132 per household.

Christine Steele can be reached at 575-538-5893 ext. 5802.