Recycling should not be confusing.
But it has been made that way in Moscow.
The City Council voted in August to restrict some items accepted in the single-stream curbside recycling program, and the changes were implemented in October.
With only minor efforts to educate the public on the changes, many residents are struggling to meet the new guidelines.
Earlier this week, an official with Latah Sanitation Inc. discussed the changes during League of Women Voters of Moscow forum and tried to clear things up.
While Nos. 1 through 7 plastics were recyclable before, now only Nos. 1 and 2 are accepted as long as they are jugs with screw tops. Shredded paper is no longer allowed, and the same goes for plastic bags, aluminum foil and aseptic packaging, including juice and milk containers.
The list goes on, and it gets more confusing because certain items can still be taken to the recycling center but not be placed in rollcarts.
China has historically been the end market for many of the recyclable materials in the United States, but regulations imposed by China in 2017 have made it more difficult to export low-grade and contaminated recyclables, forcing cities like Moscow to alter what they will and won't accept in recycling bins.
The changes had to be made, but we feel the city could do a better job informing the public about the new expectations.
When things become too complicated, humans tend to get stressed and shut down. If we can't easily determine what to do with that packaging from the latest gadget we got for Christmas, we'll just throw it away. When in doubt, send it to the landfill, right?
But that is the opposite of the direction we should be moving.
Our planet is dying around us, and one of the ways ordinary people can help is by recycling, preserving our resources and making them stretch further.
A pamphlet in the mail after a change is made is not enough, considering the high population turnover on the Palouse. A years-old worn, smudged sticker on the side of the bin is not enough. A webpage is not enough. And any one-time information campaign will not be enough.
The city and Latah Sanitation need to undertake a sustained information campaign and make the process as easy and clear as possible.