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 people who regularly recycle might be unaware that they are making mistakes. Are you recycling correctly? Read on to learn what you might be doing wrong and how to become a recycling pro.
Mistake #1: Believing something Can’t be recycled
Lots of men and women throw things from the trash that can and must be recycled or upcycled. With a little bit of exploring, you can drop certain household item at recycling facilities, arrange to have your items picked up, or contribute them. Crayons, by way of 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, see search.earth911.com.
Mistake #2: Tossing bottle caps in the trash
Until recently, we were instructed to remove all bottle caps from bottles before recycling. 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 proper equipment to recycle them. Improved recycling technology now makes it possible to recycle whole bottles – caps and all. Some – not all – facilities throughout Connecticut accept bottle caps. Check with your local recycling facility for more information.
The cardboard box your pizza comes in is recyclable – if it is clean. Boxes coated with oil stains and stuck-on cheese makes a mess of the recycling process. Unlike plastics and glass (which uses heat throughout 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 favorite pizza takeout box in the recycle bin cut or trim greasy spots.
Mistake #4: Recycling plastic shopping bags
Sure they’re made from plastic, but plastic shopping bags are notorious for getting caught in the automated sorting machines at recycling facilities. Once thought to be utilitarian, plastic bags are damaging the environment and recycling center equipment! Many grocery and retail stores have bins to collect plastic bags.
According to the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP), shredded paper is just 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. In case you have shredded paper to get rid of, consider turning it into mulch. Since wood-based paper is biodegradable, it is going to mix in nicely 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 you can toss them in your house recycling bin. The following is a list of the common types of plastic and Whether they can be recycled:
Number 1: polyethylene terephthalate; containers made from this substance include soda bottles, water bottles, and peanut butter containers. Plastics marked number 1 can be set 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 can be put 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 are not 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 initial location of business. 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 the local recycling facility.
Number 7: miscellaneous substances: sunglasses, DVDs, and 5-gallon water bottles are made from number 7 miscellaneous plastics. These plastics are usually not picked up as part of your curbside recycling.