A national expert on recycling was in Iowa this week to attend Iowa’s first-ever “State of the Environment and Recycling Dinner.” Darryl Young, former director of the California Department of Conservation, spoke with Radio Iowa by phone before his keynote address.
Young says California is not really the model of how recycling programs work. “There’s a lot to like about Iowa…It’s been really a beacon for recycling in the Midwest,” Young says. “Having said that, there’s a lot we can learn also from other countries. Australia is about to look at packaging in general and finding ways to legitimately reduce the amount of packaging that is out there so the need for recycling is not as great.”
In the United States, a “goodly” portion of the amount of waste in landfills is packaging, according to Young. He estimates it’s “easily 30 to 40 percent” of the waste generated by Americans in their homes. Young says packaging is needed to deliver a product to the consumer in as good a condition as possible, but he says it’s time to search for packaging that can be recycled.
For example, Johnson says the waxed boxes or trays for the poultry, meat and produce sold in grocery stores are being replaced in some areas by fully-recyclable wax boxes. Young serves on the board of the National Recycling Coalition. He spoke at an event in Des Moines Thursday night that was organized by the Iowa Recycling Association.