We are all confused when it come to recycling: Which color bin? Plastic? Paper? Is this [fill in the blank] even recyclable?
This is where QEEP Recycling and Recycle Across America come in. We want everyone to learn what, where, how and why to recycle. The scary fact is that recycling wrong is worse than not recycling at all.
Says Recycle Across America: “Though there are several cited reasons for it, the collapse of recycling is primarily due to high contamination levels in the recycling stream. Contamination is trash or dirty recyclables in the recycling stream, and it cripples the economics of recycling. The process to remove contamination reduces profitability, driving up the cost of recyclables, thereby preventing many manufacturers from reusing recycled materials. As a result, they continue to deplete finite natural resources at alarming levels.”
Remember this handy rhyme: When In Doubt, Throw It Out!
Here are the Top 5 Recycling Mistakes almost everyone makes—and how not to. Check out all our Recycling Tips so your good recycling intentions lead to right action!
Top 5 Recycling Mistakes
1. Hard-To-Recycle Plastics
Plastics #1-#2 (bottles and jugs) are widely accepted in most recycling programs. But before throwing other types of plastics in the recycling bin (Plastics #3-#7), confirm that your recycling hauler will accept them. Just because you see a chasing arrow with a number in it does not mean that plastic item is recyclable.
Q-Tip: Do not put prescription bottles or sample-sized bottles in your regular recycling bins. Contact your county or city to find out how to properly dispose of or recycle them.
2. Plastic Bags
NEVER put your recyclables in plastic bags and never put any plastic bags in your regular recycling bin or recycling dumpster. Plastic bags and plastic wrap get jammed in recycling processing equipment, which causes recycling to be expensive to process.
If you absolutely need to use a plastic bag or need to line your bin with a plastic bag, then empty your loose recyclables into the recycling cart or recycling dumpster—and take your empty plastic bag to a place where they recycle plastic bags. If you can’t find a plastic bag recycler, then either reuse your plastic bag or use it as a trash bag.
3. Pizza Boxes
Unless you have a clean cardboard pizza box, please do not put cheesy, oily pizza boxes in your recycling bin. The oil, cheese, and sauce on the box can contaminate the cardboard. If you compost your food waste, then please compost the pizza box if there isn’t any plastic in or on it. Otherwise, put it in the trash and send it to the landfill.
NEVER put drinking glasses, cups or dishware in the recycling bin. Dishware and glass in the recycling bin can cause many issues for the processors and can cause huge issues for the glass manufacturers, including destroying their equipment and causing the good glass jars and bottles to be unusable. If you have dishware and drinking glasses that are intact, please bring them to your local Goodwill or local reuse shop. If they are broken, put them in the trash and send them to the landfill.
5. Other Common Non-Recyclables
Unless the recycling hauler has indicated specifically that they can accept these any of items, then this is the rule of thumb: NO aluminum foil, NO plastic or metal utensils, NO plastic bags, NO Styrofoam, and NO plastic wraps or wrappers should ever go in the recycling bin. NO food, NO liquids, NO straws, NO plastic cups and NO plastic dishware. Compost all food and food-soiled paper when possible.