With the holidays approaching, more waste will be created through the purchasing of gifts and wrapping paper, but Tahlequah residents have a way to properly dispose of their recyclable material.

Friday was America Recycles Day, and local citizens have two options if they want to turn their trash into another man's treasure.

The Solid Waste Department has a recycling drop-off center for where waste can be taken. During business hours, residents can drop-off their reusable garbage for free. The center will accept items like aluminum cans, cardboard, clean No. 1 plastic, clean No. 2 plastic, magazines, metal, office paper, paper, and tin cans. And businesses that use a lot of paper and cardboard can have their material picked up for free, too.

Larry Blackman, Solid Waste foreman, said the paper collected is taken to National Paper Co. Inc. to be recycled, while metal goes to Robbins Recycling.

"We try to do our part to keep it green around here," said Blackman.

The recycling drop-off center won't accept just anything, though. Unaccepted items include: concrete, containers with free-flowing liquid inside, dirt, explosive items, microwaves, oil filters, light ballasts, radioactive material, sealed containers of tanks of any kind, tires, wood, and any item SWD feels will pose a threat to the environment, an employee, or customer safety.

The Solid Waste Department is at 1851 N. Douglas Blvd., and the hours are 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday to Friday; and 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 918-456-8332.

For those who can't get around as well, or just prefer to stay home, Tahlequah Recycling Inc. offers pickup for residents.

"We do pickups on Friday and Saturday, depending on your location in town," said Josh Hutchins, Tahlequah Recycling owner. "We kind of split the city up into two halves, and we get most of our commercial customers on Friday, while they're open."

Hutchins will take paper and cardboard, as long as it doesn't have any food waste on it. He also accepts No. 1 plastic, No. 2 plastic, and anything metal, including gold, silver and copper. Not only does recycling prevent landfills from overflowing with unnecessary rubbish and reduce the amount of plastic floating in the oceans, it allows for the material to be repurposed and used again.

"Ultimately, the paper and cardboard gets turned into one of two things, depending on the price," said Hutchins. "It either goes to a place where they turn it into paper towels, or it goes to another place where it turns into the paper backing on sheet rock material."

Metal Hutchins collects goes to local scrap haulers before it's taken to Tulsa or Fayetteville and thrown into a smelter. Meanwhile, people who recycle plastic No. 1 could be contributing to someone else's warmth, as it gets turned into fleece jackets or is sold to a place in Missouri where carpet is made out of it.

"And the the milk jugs and laundry jugs, those go to a place in Osage County where they make plastic, molded fence posts," said Hutchins.

Those who use Tahlequah Recycling's services are provided a container to store their recyclables.

It's also commingled, so customers do not have to worry about how it is sorted.

"You think about recycling programs and at a lot of places you have a little bin for your paper, a bin for you plastic, a bin for your metal," said Hutchins. "We don't do that. It all goes into one bin and it's to make it as convenient as possible."

To sign up for Tahlequah Recycling's services, people can visit tahlequahrecycling.com. The cost is $18 per month. For more information, call 918-316-5856.

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