The 7 Recycling Mistakes You're (Probably) Making
Did you know Americans consume 850 million trees annually? To put it in perspective, if we recycled just one-tenth of our newspapers, we would save 25 million trees a year. And this is just for paper.
Can you imagine the impact we could have if we did this for plastic and other recyclable materials?
There are countless reasons why we should recycle: reduce air and water pollution, conserve natural resources, decrease carbon emissions, save energy, protect wildlife and the list goes on.
That being said, we’re thrilled to report that recycling is on the rise, with more and more people making the commitment to practice sustainable living. And while it’s wonderful more people are doing their part to protect the planet and recycle, it’s a futile effort when done incorrectly.
The 7 Most Common Recycling Mistakes
1. Throwing plastic bags in with other plastic materials.
Most local recyclers don’t accept plastic bags since they are required to be dry and clean – and once they mix in with the rest of the plastic in the bin, this is not the case. The good news is that most grocery stores accept plastic bags for recycling. It’s a bit of extra work, but you can save the plastic bags and bring them with you the next time you go shopping. And of course, you already know the better solution…stop buying and using plastic bags in the first place! Opt for reusable bags.
2. Containers with any type of food contamination
Many people don’t realize this, but it is extremely important to rinse out and clean the aluminum, plastic, and glass containers before throwing them in the recycling bin. Any materials with too much food waste attached to them cannot be recycled and will be sent to the landfill. A greasy pizza box is a great example; when the oil absorbs into the fiber it makes the material less valuable. However, you can tear off the side that’s not oily and recycle it.
3. Knowing when (and if) to separate recycled materials
Is your local recycling program single-stream or dual-stream? With single-stream recycling, paper, plastic, cardboard, glass and metal can be mixed. As for dual-stream recycling, you need to separate the paper and cardboard from glass and plastic containers.
4. Shredded paper
In most cases, shredded paper is too small to sort and gets lost. That being said, there are recycling centers that will accept shredded paper if it’s put in a labeled bag.
5. You’re throwing away batteries and old gadgets
Many electrical products such as batteries don’t have recycling symbols, which is why most people assume they can’t be recycled. But did you know it’s actually illegal to dump electronic waste in the garbage? The chemicals in disposable batteries are extremely harmful to the environment. Most electronics can be recycled at household waste centers.
6. Don’t bag your recyclables
You may think you are being helpful by putting all of your milk containers in one large bag, but they cannot be sorted properly and will end up in a landfill. Simply throw your recyclables into the bin – they will be sorted later.
7. Throwing in non-recyclable glass
There are certain materials that can be recycled such as clear bottles and jars. However, other materials like cups, mirrors, light bulbs and ceramic dishes are not good for recycling.
Remember, when it comes to recycling, a little can go a long way! We hope you join us and make recycling (the right way) part of your daily routine.
Along with following this list, be sure to check with your local recycling center so that you adhere to their recycling guidelines.
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