Trash Doesn’t Have to be Messy
Sorting NRNC on Nantucket
Every day, several times a day, we make a decision: what do I do with my waste? Everything from a banana peel to an old plastic beach toy, we have to decide what to do with something when we are finished with it.
For years, the answer has been to toss or recycle. We are accustomed to sorting our trash, separating items into either household trash or the four recyclable categories: glass; tin/aluminum; plastics; and shipping boxes. Knowing that, we’ve gone about our day working or playing in the sun – or fog – all the while finding time to sort our trash accordingly. It’s been easy to follow the rules.
This winter, however, the rules changed.
In an effort to clean up our Island’s compostable waste, there is a “new normal” when it comes to our island’s waste stream. Specifically, we have to pay a little more attention to our household trash and sort it more carefully. The goal is to keep all plastics out of the compostable trash bin. In 2019, the town introduced us to Non-Recyclable/Non-Compostable or NRNC.
Let’s start with your kitchen or take-out meal waste, decide which of the items can be recycled. Then ask yourself what’s left that will literally turn into dirt. That includes all food scraps, paper boxes, newspaper, junk mail, and old brown bags. If it is a film plastic chip bag or a plastic and cardboard milk carton, things that are not going to break down in the composter, don’t throw it away with your household trash.
That is why you’ll need to update the sorting station in your house and start a NRNC bin. When in doubt, toss it into the NRNC pile, including candy wrappers, tired dish rags, plastic bags, diapers, and any packaging that has silver on it.
If you have trash pick-up service, Nantucket Public Works is asking you to hold back your NRNC bags since garbage trucks are not yet designed to handle this particular change. Rather, please consider making the occasional trip to the dump to drop it off in the NRNC waste bins.
Change always takes time but this too will become second nature. You will also be amazed by how much NRNC is in your waste. It may just make you want to consume less, buy fewer plastic items, and expect better designs from consumer producers.