(pictured right: FOSB Plastic Interpretive Display rolled out at Fidalgo Shoreline Academy)
Friends of Skagit Beaches - with support from Skagit County Solid Waste Division and Padilla Bay NERR Education staff - has undertaken a new project to provide education and outreach to residents of Skagit County to reduce single-use plastics that can find their way into our waterways and become marine debris, a major issue threatening our bays and oceans.
A second goal of the project is to educate local communities about changes to plastic waste recycling requirements. As some of our readers may be aware, China is no longer accepting plastics for recycling from the United States and other countries due to the high percentage of “contamination” of the waste stream. This is not contamination of the sort you might expect, it’s really an issue of the plastic being collected containing a high-percentage of non-recyclable plastic waste. This has significantly impacted the viability of plastic recycling and changed the requirements for the types of plastic that can be accepted into the recycling stream. We are calling this part of our project a Skagit County plastic recycling “reboot” to convey that we all need to relearn what plastics can and cannot be recycled.
Friends recently received a grant from the WA Department of Ecology to support rolling out this program in Skagit County. Board member, Betty Carteret, who drafted the proposal, will manage the project. We are just getting started and recruiting volunteers to help make it a success. Friends has contracted with Joan Drinkwin of Natural Resources Consultants to lead the project and coordinate volunteer activities.
Some of you may know Joan from her work with the Skagit MRC’s Salish Sea Stewards Volunteer Program this year. She is working with Callie Martin, Skagit County Waste Reduction and Recycling Educator, to develop a full-day training program for the volunteers to learn details about issues with marine debris and single-use plastics, changes in the plastic recycling market and requirements, and alternatives to single-use plastics. Additional training will be offered to hone outreach and communication skills so our volunteers can effectively foster plastic waste reduction and proper plastic recycling in Skagit County.
Volunteers will be asked to contribute a minimum of 10 hours of volunteer time in exchange for this training program.