Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is a mantra adopted by many. The benefits of recycling are many, yet based on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 34.5 percent of what Americans shed gets recycled. What’s more, many men and women who regularly recycle might be unaware that they are making mistakes. Are you recycling properly? Read on to learn what you may be doing wrong and how to become a recycling pro.
Mistake #1: Thinking something Can’t be recycled
Many people throw things from the trash that can and should be recycled or upcycled. With a little bit of investigating, you can drop certain household item at recycling centers, arrange to have your items picked up, or donate them. Crayons, for example, can be donated to needy children, children’s hospitals, or delivered to the National Crayon Recycle Program. According to GreenAmerica.org, these are just a few of the common items that should be recycled and kept away from landfills:
Aluminum Foil/pie plates/trays
For a complete list of items which can be recycled and how to recycle them, visit search.earth911.com.
Mistake #2: Tossing bottle caps in the garbage
Caps from common household products, such as water and soda bottles are often made from polypropylene plastic (marked by the number 5 on containers) and lots of recycling facilities didn’t have the correct equipment to recycle them. Improved recycling technologies now makes it feasible to recycle whole bottles – caps and all. Some – not all – centers throughout Connecticut accept bottle caps. Check with your local recycling facility for more information.
Mistake #3: Filling your recycling bin with dirty pizza boxes
The cardboard box your pizza comes in is recyclable – if it’s clean. Boxes coated with oil stains and stuck-on cheese makes a mess of the recycling process. Unlike plastics and glass (which utilizes heat during the recycling process) cardboard uses water to break down the fibers into a pulp. The oils released during the process ends up destroying the quality of batch that is being made into new paper and cardboard. Before putting your favourite pizza takeout box at the recycle bin cut or trim greasy spots.
Sure they’re made from plastic, but plastic shopping bags are renowned for getting caught in the automated sorting machines at recycling centers. Once thought to be functional, plastic bags are damaging the environment and recycling center equipment! What should you do with your plastic bags? Many grocery and retail shops have bins to collect plastic bags.
Mistake #5: Putting shredded paper in the recycling bin
According to the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), shredded paper is at least as bad for recycling equipment as plastic shopping bags. That’s because those very small shreds of newspaper can clog up the machines and get mixed in and tangled with other recyclables. DEEP suggest shredding documents only when absolutely necessary. If you’ve shredded paper to get rid of, think about turning it into compost. Since wood-based paper is biodegradable, it will mix in well with your compost pile.
Mistake #6: All plastics aren’t created equal
The numbers on the bottom of your plastic containers represent the sort of material used and are a guide as to whether or not you can toss them on your home recycling bin. The following is a list of the common types of plastic and whether or not they can be recycled:
Number 1: polyethylene terephthalate; containers made from this material include soda bottles, water bottles, and peanut butter containers. Plastics marked number 1 can be put in your curbside recycling bin.
Number 2: high density polyethylene; milk jugs, fruit juice bottles, and shampoo/conditioner bottles are normally made from this substance. Number 2 plastics could be set in your curbside recycling bin.
Number 3: vinyl or PVC; containers made from this substance include detergent bottles, window cleaner bottles, and vinyl siding. Number 3 plastics aren’t picked up as part of your curbside recycling. Number 4 plastics are usually not recycled through at-home curbside pick-up. Some laundry bags and shopping bags can be returned to the original place of business.
Number 5: polypropylene; yogurt containers, ketchup bottles, and straws are made from polypropylene. These plastics are sometimes recycled; ask your neighborhood recycling center.
Number 6: polystyrene; egg cartons and disposable cups and plates are made from polystyrene. Not all curbside recycling accepts number 6 plastics; consult your local recycling facility.
Number 7: miscellaneous substances: sunglasses, DVDs, and 5-gallon water bottles are made from number 7 miscellaneous plastics. These plastics are typically not picked up as part of your curbside recycling.