A bipartisan group of U.S. senators last Wednesday introduced legislation threatening to impose more severe sanctions if Russia continues to meddle in American elections.
Was it a mere coincidence that on that very same day Larry Woods, a retired Manheim Township High School teacher who has been blogging for nine years, wrote a piece about Lancaster residents “contaminating”' their recyclables?
Yes. Yes, it was a mere coincidence.
However, it may have been less of a coincidence that at the precise time Russian trolls were trying to muck up the 2016 presidential election, crazy numbers of Russians were reading Woods’ blog at lifewithldub.blogspot.com.
“During the time before the election for president, I had close to 1,000 Russians reading the blog daily,” Woods says. “My wife thought I should contact the local police, but I never did. They stopped reading after the election, but started again before the midterm election.”
Woods says he can’t imagine what information the Russians were searching for in his blog titled, benignly, “Extraordinary Stories from an Ordinary Guy.” Recent subjects have included the advantages of reading books on a Kindle and memories of the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor.
Woods uses Blogspot to track readers by country of origin and in other categories. He noticed a modest spike in German readers several years ago, but the number and timing of Russian readers was unprecedented.
OK, that ends the part of this column dealing with Russian “meddling” in Larry Woods’ blog, so readers who enjoy following conspiracy theories to dead ends may want to move along to other features. The rest of this writing concerns Woods’ thoughts on recycling.
The blog is filled with relevant information and a troubling observation: Despite last July’s guidelines placing limits on recyclable materials, Woods observes, many residents still “put all the same stuff they used to in their (recyclable) bin.”
Woods has noticed newspapers in bins and wonders what drivers of trucks gathering recyclables do with them and other items that “are no longer recyclable, which makes the job of the person collecting them that much harder.”
The Scribbler has wondered about that, too. So he contacted Katie Sandoe, spokeswoman for the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority. What happens to newspapers and other formerly recyclable stuff that residents continue to dump into their recycling bins?
“It harms the recycling process when you put things in your recycling bin that don’t belong,” she says. “We’re working with municipalities to educate people, but it’s going to take time for people to understand the new guidelines.”
Revised guidelines were released after China, which had taken the bulk of U.S. recyclables, cut off most of that trade. China said U.S. material was overly contaminated with unwanted trash and unclean recyclables.
So now there’s a more limited market for recyclables, Sandoe says, and that market wants top-quality material.
Truck drivers take everything tossed into recycling bins — the good and the bad — to a materials recovery facility in York, Sandoe explains. The trucks dump everything onto the floor. Then “pickers,”' both human and mechanical, remove as many contaminated objects as possible as they move along a conveyor belt.
The worthless stuff — including plastic bags, garden hoses and anything else that might wrap itself around the sorting machinery and gum up the works — goes to a residue pile and is burned by the York County Solid Waste Authority.
The rest, if it’s clean, is baled and sold.
If Lancaster (or Russian) residents want to review the revised guidelines on recyclables, they are available at the Lancaster County Solid Waste Authority website: lcswma.org/lcswma_recycling.cfm.
Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes "The Scribbler'' column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at firstname.lastname@example.org.