Bond group solves sign recycling challenge

The For the Best Scottsdale Political Action Committee supporting passage of Scottsdale’s upcoming bond package has committed to recycling all of its campaign signs, which are also made from recycled materials. (For The Best Scottsdale PAC)

The political action committee supporting the passage of Scottsdale’s bond package in November has taken steps to limit the effect it will have on the environment by committing to recycling all campaign signs after the election.

For the Best Scottsdale Political Action Committee is also having its signs made from recycled materials.

“It had always been our intention that our signs would be recyclable – that was from the get-go,” campaign co-chair Paula Sturgeon said.

As it turns out, living up to that commitment was no easy feat.

The campaign initially thought it could recycle the corrugated plastic signs it is using at any recycling facility, but that was not the case because many municipal and private recyclers no longer accept that material, according to the campaign.

Following the 2018 election, John Stumbaugh, of the Solid Waste Services department, said the city’s contracted recycler accepts only solid, flat plastic signs and not the corrugated ones most commonly used during campaigns.

According to a campaign press release, “the market for some recycled materials has been drastically reduced recently since China stopped accepting most recyclable material from the United States.”

The campaign credited Scottsdale resident and activist Emily Austin with bringing the recycling issue to its attention.

The campaign reached out to private recycling companies throughout the Valley and found B&L Polymer Processing in Phoenix, a firm that will recycle corrugated plastic.

“We contacted our sign installer and they’ve agreed to take all the signs when they take them down to B&L Polymer and they will be recycled,” said Mike Scerbo of the Rose + Moser + Allyn public relations firm, which is working on the campaign.

Scerbo said using recycled materials and ensuring the signs are recycled after the election will result in marginal added costs for the campaign, “but certainly it’s well worth it.”

It will cost the campaign a few more dollars per sign for the recycled material and a “couple hundred dollars” to have the signs delivered to the recycling facility.

Sturgeon said the decision was the right one for the community.

”It’s driven by looking around the table at our steering committee and knowing their depth of passion for this city,” Sturgeon said.

“Many of those around the table had been aware of trouble from the last election (with recycling signs) and that we needed to do this right – recycle when we can, reuse when we can, and be good stewards of everything that we’re doing.”

Austin, who said she verified that B&L Polymer will accept the signs, applauded the campaign’s decision.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Austin said. “I challenged (Rose + Moser + Allyn) and basically said you need to use recyclable or biodegradable materials, and they came through.”

This is not the first time Austin has fought to stop signs from ending up in the trash. Following the last election, she stored signs in her garage and looked for solutions to recycle or repurpose them.

Some of those signs, including those for Councilwoman Solange Whitehead, were repurposed as shade structures at Liberty Wildlife, a Phoenix-based nonprofit that provides animal rehabilitation, conservation and education services

At that time, Austin said she was surprised to find out most campaign signs were not accepted by recycling facilities.

Austin said she wants to reach out to local and state politicians in the future to organize collection points for campaign signs to be collected and delivered to recyclers that do accept corrugated plastics.