For many years, the USA has relied on China to buy our recycling. Recent changes to China’s import policy have had a big impact on our recycling landscape. China no longer takes our trash as recycling. Now, they require cleaner, more carefully sorted materials. As you know, our recycling processing relies, in part, on source-separated materials – what we put out to the curb. When we don’t carefully separate at home or at work, we end up with trash in our recycling.
As a result, haulers are more closely assessing what goes into the recycling bins. They are also setting new recycling requirements for their customers.
Some haulers now require all recycling materials to be loose inside the container. Specifically, this means blue, green & clear bags are no longer permitted. These bags now count as contamination. It’s not terrible if you’re a homeowner but if you’re a business or apartment-dweller, this change can be messy and inconvenient.
In some markets, haulers implemented higher fees for contamination. Overall, more loads are tagged as contaminated.
What goes in the recycling bin?
With all these changes, it is important to remember what goes into the recycling bin.
General guidelines are clean paper, glass, and aluminum are acceptable. Plastics are a little trickier.
This graphic shows the universally accepted plastics safe for your recycling bin:
On the bottom of your plastics containers, there will be an image like those above. Check the number to make sure the item is safe for your recycling bin. Two important things to remember:
- If there is no recycling logo and/or no number, the item is not recyclable. Please dispose of it with your trash.
- If the item is a food container, please thoroughly wash the container with soapy water before putting it into the bin. Dirty food containers are considered contamination and may result in fines/fees.
No matter where you live or work, check with your trash company [or office administrator] to learn more about proper recycling practices in your area.