The nonprofit organization, Keep America Beautiful, reported that the amount of “recyclable materials in the U.S. waste stream would generate over $7 billion if they were recycled.” Recycling benefits communities and the environment in numerous ways—it decreases the amount of waste transported to landfills, saves energy, and preserves natural resources, to name just a few. When recycling is done correctly, disposable trash materials are collected, processed, and generated into new products. There are beneficial recycling habits, and some, that are harmful to the entire process. Recycling mistakes generally involve waste contamination, which occurs whenever non-recyclable material is placed in the same lot as recyclable waste. Following are five of the most common recycling mistakes made by consumers—check to see if you might be guilty of recycling incorrectly, and how to change your habits:
Soiled Paper Products
With recycling, any kind of contamination is not good. Dirty napkins, used paper plates and towels, tissues, waxed paper, Chinese takeout cartons, and pizza boxes should be discarded into the trash. Most eatery food boxes are a disaster to recycle because grease and food leftovers get soaked into the cardboard. For proper recycling, clean items that can be cleaned such as aluminum, glass, and plastic, before recycling them.
Frozen Food Containers
Frozen food boxes are composed of paperboard that has been coated with a plastic polymer to protect them from freezer burn. Paper fiber that has been sprayed with plastic polymer does not mash up to become pulp. The result is a physical contaminant that has to be removed and discarded.
Ceramic or China Dishware
Items made from ceramic, china, Pyrex, or porcelain have distinct chemical compositions and melting points which will destroy new glass containers. Other glassware that is not recyclable include light bulbs, mirrors, window glass, and laboratory glassware. If any contaminant is included in recycling bins, the entire load will be disposed of.
Plastic and Steel Lids
A greater number of plastics are now recyclable, but plastic lids are generally not, and present a serious contaminant, either on or off the bottle. Caps left on the bottle, often trap liquid or air inside the receptacle, which complicates the recycling procedure, and uses more energy. Steel caps are small enough to fall through sorting machines. To recycle, collect steel caps into a separate can and squeeze it until the caps do not fall out. The entire container can than then be placed in the recycling bin.
According to the professionals of King Recycling and WasteDisposal who provide disposal bins in Toronto, shredding paper can decrease its recycling value, because the length of the paper fibers is the key factor. A sheet of computer paper, for example, has long fibers that may be recycled up to eight times. When shredded, that computer paper may not be able to be recycled, even once. Frequently, shredded paper is declined by paper mills because it is too small to sort, and pieces fall through the sorting machine, winding up all over the facility.
There is a wrong way, and a right way, to recycle. Make sure your green efforts count and you are recycling the correct way. If you don’t properly sort and organize your recyclables, they might end up in a land fill. The more you know about recycling procedures, the easier it will be to produce recycling bin that will truly be used for future purposes. Educate yourself today, and don’t let any more of your recyclables go to waste!