Plastics Recycling in Sidney

#1 Plastics

Use the sliders on the images to the left (to the left..) to learn more about what can be recycled here in Sidney now that we are able to expand the recycling options! In order to make this program successful, we need citizens using the recycling bins, to help as much as possible by only depositing accepted materials, rinsing and crushing containers, and by keeping film plastics, such as plastic, plastic wrap, food storage bags, protective wrap plastics out of the bins. These types of plastics jam up our machinery and can bring the whole process to a halt! We are working on a program to deal with these types of plastics. You can find out more information about that by visiting:

#2 Plastics

We also ask that you double check your recyclables to make sure they are STAMPED with the recycling emblem. Just because it’s made out of plastic, it doesn’t mean it can be recycled! Plastic has a wide range of textures, dyes, and densities within each category and this can affect it’s ability to be recycled. Construction materials are not accepted in the recycling bins. Materials such as PVC pipes may be recyclable, but it’s too strong for the machinery to handle and can damage or even disable the landfill equipment.

#3 Plastics

Some items that are never accepted:
PVC Pipe
PEX Pipe
Foam Insulation
Foam to-go containers
Electronics Cases
Cassette Tapes
Nylon ropes, and other plastic fibers
Anything that doesn’t fit into the bins!

#4 Plastics

What about the lids?
Many plastic manufacturers have reformulated the lids on containers so they are recyclable too! In fact, it’s better to put the lid back on the container after rinsing to prevent the lid from getting lost or falling out of the bale of plastics!

OF COURSE, there’s exceptions to EVERY rule! So if you’re unsure, look for the stamp on the lid. Some products will have the recycling emblems printed somewhere on the label, so check there too!

#5 Plastics

Steps you can take to ensure success of the program:
1) Be sure to sort out non-recyclables. All the film plastics, bags, and anything that is not labeled for recycling.
2) Rinse and Crush! Food and product waste reduces the quality of our recyclable materials and increases weight and shipping costs. Help keep our recycling system clean and free of contamination! Then crush your plastics down so the bins don’t fill up as quick!
3) When in doubt, reach out! Contact KSB or the Sidney Landfill if you’re unsure!

#6 Plastics

Reducing your dependence on plastic is the best step!
I know it’s hard to avoid plastic when it seems like everything we buy is made out of or wrapped in plastic and many ‘eco-friendly’ products are less financially accessible to many. But, every small step helps, and anyway you can avoid single use plastics is far more important than recycling the plastics you buy. Even choosing a brand that uses less plastic, or a more easily recyclable material such as plastic #1 or #2 makes a difference!

#7 Plastics

What Else? What’s Next?
KSB is well aware of the many issues facing our recycling system, from bins filling up, to accessibility, the need for more locations, and many others. This is just one of many steps we are taking and constantly working on to improve recycling for everyone. One of the biggest road blocks right now is staffing. But we’re working on that too! One other immediate step we’re looking towards is replacing the cardboard bins at Safeway, and the introduction of the Hefty Energy Bag Program.
Feel free to reach out to KSB with any questions or comments!

An Intro to Solid Waste Characterization Data

Below you will find links to the sources, and an introduction to the data that Keep Sidney Beautiful relies on when it comes to supporting and planning for our recycling system. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been collecting data on material generation and disposal for over 35 years, and has records of waste management dating as far back as the 60s. This comprehensive ongoing study has measured the success of programs nationwide, and aims to help states, local governments, and local programs by directing them towards the resources they need for success. The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) formerly the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) oversees all waste management in the state, from landfills, to private waste management business, and the Keep Nebraska Beautiful Affiliates. The NDEE not only studies and reports on the waste management system, but works to create viable solutions for rural districts with limited options, and new systems to benefit municipalities statewide.
The information below is a great first look into what exactly is going into our landfills, and why Keep Sidney Beautiful has been focused on our corrugated cardboard and mixed paper recycling. Some of the reports linked are quite extensive (2,000 pages!!!!), so don’t feel like you have to jump all the way in. Keep Sidney Beautiful will be discussing more specific topics from these reports throughout the year. Follow this blog or subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date.


This chart, from the EPA, shows the distribution of municipal solid wastes (MSW) generated in the United States in 2018. Even though paper materials and cardboard have the highest rate of recycling, that material is still accounting for a large portion of landfilled solid waste. Other organic materials combined (food waste, wood, and yard trimmings) make up over 33% of landfill waste nationwide and other recyclable materials (glass, metals, and plastics) combined total around 25%.

Approximately 46 million tons of paper and paperboard were recycled in 2018 for a recycling rate of 68.2 percent, which was the highest compared to other materials in MSW.

EPA Paper and Paperboard: Material Specific Data

For comparison, this chart was from a comprehensive NDEE study in 2009, showing the municipal solid waste collected in Sidney over a year long period. (According to the study, 38 samples were studied over 4 different periods in a year). Even though this data is a little bit dated, Sidney’s waste falls in line with the national average, with our plastics and paper coming in a little bit higher. A large component of recycling is to slow down the rate at which our landfill is being filled. Paper products have a recycling rate of 68%, and corrugated cardboard at nearly 98%, yet is still the largest material landfilled by both weight and volume. Food waste is also an issue.

This situation indicates how the waste stream is affected by the unique characteristics of a community. For example, Sidney is located along Interstate 80 which may explain the higher percentages found in the glass component, metals component, and food category; there are more restaurants and auto and truck repair shops along the interstate.

NDEE State of Nebraska Waste Characterization Study

For comparison, this is the statewide results from the same NDEE study.
Other interesting finds include:
• The yard waste ban appears to be very successful in reducing the amount of yard waste disposed in Nebraska’s solid waste facilities.
• More than 50% of the paper fibers component of Nebraska’s municipal waste stream is easily recyclable.
• The plastics component comprises 19.13% of Nebraska’s municipal waste stream and approximately 27% of the component is easily recyclable.

The NDEE Solid Waste Management Programs Study follows up the Waste Characterization Study, and addresses the needs and successes of waste management programs across the state. This study heavily emphasizes the rural districts limited resources when it comes to solid and effective recycling programs. In the Review of Existing State Program, the lack of outlets for waste tires is almost immediately mentioned, and further in the study, the lack of infrastructure is discussed.

We can’t ignore the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills either. Composting is an effective way to handle this issue, but large scale composting does present it’s own problems and requires regular maintenance to be successful. Backyard composting is a strong way to combat residential food waste, but is not an option for businesses. One viable solution for Sidney would be integrating composting into the already existing yard waste program. Roadblocks regarding this, is that yard waste and food waste have to be transported separately, so curbside pickup is unlikely. Since absorbent materials are required for handling the moisture content of compost, chipped/shredded yard waste could address that.

Below is a comparison between residential and commercial solid waste collected in Sidney. The commercial waste sample totaled 3683.05lbs, and the residential sample was 3583.21lbs. A couple obvious observations are that businesses are less likely to use our current recycling system; most food waste comes from households; when compared to the Mixed Waste Data chart above, residential and commercial waste are each accounting for roughly 50% of landfill usage. That is, neither the residents, nor business community are putting more strain than the other on our system. It should be noted that Construction & Demolition (C&D) are excluded from all the reports links in this post.

The total generation of MSW in 2018 was 292.4 million tons, which was approximately 23.7 million tons more than the amount generated in 2017.  This is an increase from the 268.7 million tons generated in 2017 and the 208.3 million tons in 1990.

EPA National Overview: Facts and Figures on Materials, Waste, and Recycling