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Health, Science, Environment

What To Do With Election Yard Signs? Here's How To Recycle Them

Close up of the many candidate signs outside the voting place at the Ballwin Golf Course and Events Center on Election Day Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
Theo R. Welling
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Special to St. Louis Public Radio
The recycling method for campaign signs, like these from last week's election, varies depending on the material.

The election is over, but campaign signs remain planted in many yards throughout the St. Louis region.

A new initiative aims to keep them out of the landfill.

The OneSTL Recycling Working Group and several local governments are encouraging people to recycle the markers.

“The big focus on this yard sign recycling campaign is the Coroplast plastic signs — corrugated plastic signs with that zigzag center between two sheets,” said Jean Ponzi, who is with the recycling working group.

Those signs need to be separated from metal stands, she said. They can be dropped off at sites on both sides of the river.

The idea of a coordinated effort was first discussed in the spring, partly due to the pandemic.

“So many people were putting out yard signs to congratulate graduates when we couldn’t have in-person graduation,” Ponzi said.

That was followed by a primary election in August, and the concept of putting together a recycling effort took off from there.

1106_WP_RecycleSigns_1
Wayne Pratt / St. Louis Public Rado
Many signs are being placed in a recycling bin in Kirkwood days after the election.

The corrugated signs are valuable for recycling companies but need special attention because the current systems are not set up to handle them.

“It’s special, like handling pharmaceuticals or handling electronics,” Ponzi said.

She said there is no projection for how many signs will be collected this year, but a big part of the effort is to keep items out of the garbage.

“We don’t want to send that stuff to a landfill if there’s still useful life remaining in a material,” Ponzi said.

And she thinks the initiative can be environmentally friendly in another way. Ponzi would like to see community groups, such as Scout troops, collecting signs from people instead of requiring individuals to drive to recycling locations.

“Let’s use as few fossil fuels as we can to recycle the fossil fuel plastic signs,” she said.

Drop-off sites start accepting the leftover election signs this weekend. The locations are setting their own schedules for how long they will be collecting the corrugated plastic signs over the next few weeks.

If your yard sign is cardboard, it can be put in regular recycling. Signs made of stretchy plastic can go to bag recycling collection points at most grocery stores.

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