Things Never to Add to Your Recycling Bins

2020-03-09T14:29:07-04:00 June 1st, 2016|Advice, Recycling Tips|

Plastic Bags:
You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? Plastics are plastics right?” Sure, that is true to a degree. However, plastic bags are often sorted and recycled separately depending on how they were used. Plastic bags tend to get tangled in the recycling plants’ sorting equipment; therefore it is best for the environment (and your local recycling facility) to recycle them separately and in specified containers at your local supermarket or convenience store.

Frozen & Refrigerated Food Boxes:
These boxes should be put into a separate container instead of being mixed into the common recycling bin. The waxed cardboard that is often used for TV dinners, frozen pizza, waffles, etc. are made with chemicals that prevent them from being broken down during the recycling process. Milk cartons and wax coated paper cups can be added to this list as well. These materials have a very noticeable smooth surface that distinguishes them from papers and cardboard that is chemically modified for refrigerating purposes. When you come across these common items, contact your city or waste management facility for details on how and where these boxes should recycled.

Soiled Paper:
Paper that is soiled with food grease is often better left to an organic method of disposal. This food waste can be found on paper plates, towels, and cups and is considered a contaminant when added to common recycling containers. These contaminants make it impossible for the fibers to separate themselves from the attached residues when being recycled. While it may seem like a miniscule detail to those of us dragging out the trash every week, the fact of the matter is, these soiled papers aren’t salvageable as recyclables and are better kept separate from trash and other recycling containers. Contact your city or township to sign up with their composting program. If there is one available, you can receive instructions along with a starter kit on how to compost your organics properly..

Intensely Colored Paper:
While newspaper is perfectly fine, intensely colored paper can actually be hazardous to the recycling process. This may seem “nit-picky,” but heavily colored papers are a definite “Do not add to the recycling bin!” Imagine if you’re doing laundry and you put a pile of white clothes into your machine with one red sock. It’s the perfect plan for disaster if you want to turn all of your clothes from white to pink! In the same manner, the excessive dye from colored paper will bleed onto the non-colored papers when being broken down at recycling facilities. The moral of the story is, separate your recycling and your paper the way you separate your laundry.

Ask your local Energizer Bunny and he’ll tell you the same: Batteries have corrosive acids in them that are dangerous and environmentally unfriendly. Batteries typically used for electronics and other household devices containing lithium, alkaline; cadmium, etc. can be recycled at your local commercial retailer. Batteries intended for automotive or industrial use can recycle at your local auto or home improvement retailer or dropped off at a local HHW (Household Hazardous Waste) facility. Whether it is the battery for your TV remote, or the one that starts your car in the morning, batteries are special materials and have to be recycled safely and properly. Alternative methods of recycling can also be researched online.

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