Behind each of the five main restaurants in Sonora, Texas rests a bright yellow dumpster. These dumpsters play an integral part in the town’s commercial/institutional recycling program, which was set into motion in early 1994.
The town provided the restaurants with the dumpsters in which to source separate and store one-gallon steel cans.
One-gallon steel cans play an important role in food service recycling programs. Because more than 90 percent of metal food containers are made from steel, anywhere food is prepared, steel cans are used and should be recycled when empty.
Restaurant staff employees rinse one-gallon steel food cans clean with leftover dishwater. The cans are then loaded into the yellow dumpster, where they are collected once a week by truck and taken to the town’s storage center. There, the steel cans are combined with recyclables collected from the town’s drop-off recycling program.
The town’s drop-off recycling program was established in 1990. Residents source separate steel and aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, used oil and steel oil filters, and tires into separate dumpsters. The collection site is maintained daily by town personnel.
Steel cans are delivered to a ferrous scrap yard in San Angelo. About seven tons of steel cans were recycled last year.
“The philosophy behind our recycling programs is that at least we’re keeping these recyclables out of landfills,” said Jim Garrett, recycling coordinator for Sonora.
“Way out here in west Texas the marketing of the materials is not that great. But our main purpose is to do our part to conserve landfill space and help the environment.”