Recycling coalition working on new initiatives to increase state recycling rate

ABQ recycle bins
ABQ recycle bins (Carey Olson KRQE)

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Local artists and crafters are finding new purposes for items typically thrown away. Their aim is to encourage recycling statewide, as New Mexico’s recycling rate has stayed below the national average for past several years despite legislation to increase recycling efforts.

From skis to street signs, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

“I’m 100 percent certain that when people leave here they do not look at junk the same,” said artist Mitch Berg.

At the Santa Fe Art Festival Saturday, artists from across the state and around the nation, like Berg, showcased goods they created from recycled materials.

“Its a lack of creativity when we can’t use what we already have,” Berg said.

While these artists are finding unique ways to reduce reuse, he state’s recycling coalition is still trying to get a majority of the population to recycle at all.

“It’s cheaper than buying solar panels for your house, it’s cheaper than buying a Prius or an electric car,” said Executive Director of the New Mexico Recycling Coalition Sarah Pierpont.

In 2014, legislators put aside money for developing strategies to determine what it will take to get a statewide recycling rate of 50 percent.

“Las Cruces is working towards their events having zero waste goals. Albuquerque was really focused on commercial recycling and Santa Fe has switched from curbside bins to curbside carts,” Piermont said.

Despite those local efforts, the state’s average has held steady at 16 percent. But Pierpont said she isn’t discouraged.

“If it’s held steady at 16 percent and the weight of our municipal solid waste has decreased that means we are still recycling a little bit more.”

Instead, the group is working on new initiatives to increase recycling across the state.

Pierpont said they are encouraging the state to implement “product stewardship.” An environmental management strategy that means whoever produces and sells a product takes responsibility for minimizing the product’s environmental impact

“We are really hoping that New Mexico will lead the charge and shift the burden from the tax payers to the manufactures,” Pierpont said.

According to the New Mexico Recycling Coalition if New Mexico reached the national recycling average of 34 percent that would create about five thousand jobs across the state.

Sunday is the last day to can catch the Santa Fe recycling festival from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the community convention center.