Waste watcher

Kevin Reilly

Photo by Jimmy Boegle

Kevin Reilly, 45, is the recycling manager of RSW Recycling, the (you guessed it!) recycling arm of the area sanitation companies, such as Reno Disposal and Sparks Sanitation. He graduated from Hug High School and attended the University of Nevada, Reno, before becoming an employee of RSW Recycling, where he’s worked for 15 years. Reilly has a wife and three kids and has called the Truckee Meadows his home for 37 years.

Why recycle?

It saves natural resources.

Can’t it be a pain in the butt, though?

To save natural resources or to recycle?

Well, both of them, I guess.

It depends on your perspective. I don’t think it’s a pain in the butt to recycle. We pick up stuff right from the curb. Also, for people who don’t have the residential programs available, we have several drop-off locations around the area where people can take the materials. We make things convenient, while keeping costs down.

But I live in an apartment where they don’t have recycling.

Depending on where you live, you can bring materials to the recycling centers in Reno or Sparks. We also have several drop-off locations. You can also contact your apartment management about looking into establishing some kind of recycling program on-site. We have several types of programs at apartments.

My apartment complex doesn’t have one. Does that mean it’s a bad apartment complex?

No. Maybe they just haven’t contacted us, or maybe they don’t have the room. There are a lot of reasons there could be.

How much stuff do you take in?

We recycle 4,000 tons of product per month—newspapers and magazines, plastic, glass, steel and aluminum on the residential side. On the commercial side, we take office paper, cardboard and printers’ waste.

Take me through the life of something—a glass bottle—after it’s picked up.

It’s brought here and processed. That basically means it’s crushed. It’s then loaded in an end dump truck and hauled to Sacramento _ where the material is crushed to a specification required by the company that’s going to make a new bottle or glass jar out of it.

How is all this paid for?

It’s paid for through the sale of materials, and there is, included on everyone’s garbage bill, a $1.25 charge to cover the program, which people pay whether they participate or not.

What percentage of residences participate?

About 40 percent.

How do you feel about that number?

It’s a pretty good number. The national average is 33 to 35 percent. But some locations are as high as 70 percent, like Seattle. But there are reasons for that. There’s more incentive to recycle in Seattle, because trash collection is probably four times the cost that it is here.

Have you looked into using recycling incentives here, like maybe a big guy named Guido that will “whack” the people who don’t?

We do try, through education, to tell people the importance of recycling. But there won’t be any incentives like threatening to triple their rates.

And no big guys named Guido?