Earth Week Day 5: Common Recycling Mistakes
It’s Earth Week!
Each day this week SLCgreen will post different tips and activities to challenge you to reduce your impact on the Earth.
To build off our waste theme, today we are looking at some common recycling mistakes.
Below is a list of common recycling errors and how to fix them.
Shredded paper shouldn’t go in your blue bin. Shredding cuts fibers into very short pieces, many of which pass through paper making screens and become waste at the paper plant. In addition, shredded paper often includes non-recyclables like credit cards and stickers, which can damage recycling equipment and increase costs. Shredded paper is also difficult to sort from other recyclables. Loose shredded paper creates litter, contaminates other materials, such as glass, making them less marketable, and it often ends up in the garbage at the recycling center.
Look for vendors that specialize in recycling shredded paper, or take yours to a special collection event which includes shredded paper.
Recycle Glass in Separate Bin
Glass breaks fairly easily and tends to then become very sharp, posing a significant risk to the person who handles and/or sorts that recycling can. Glass is also very difficult to remove (think needles in a haystack) once the small shards find their way into the mixed recyclables. Because of these reasons, we require all glass recyclables to be serviced in a separate, convenient bin. Click here to sign up for curbside glass collection. Click here to find a free glass recycling drop-off location.
All glass (or glass-like materials) are not created equal. Translucent bottles and jars are good for recycling. Ceramic dishes, china plates or cups, mirrors, laboratory glassware, light bulbs, Pyrex, porcelain and window glass are NOT. These materials have a different melting point and chemical composition from container glass. Seeing just one of these items in a load of contained glass can cause it to be rejected.
Leave the grease-soaked pizza box and oily takeout carton (and anything similar) out of the recycling bin. You can, however, tear off and recycle the unspoiled top of a pizza box. When it comes to recycling, any type of contamination is bad. That’s why it’s so important to clean the things that can be cleaned (aluminum, plastic and glass containers). A light rinse with water or scrape from a spatula will usually do the trick.
Paper Towels/Napkins/Tissues/Paper Plates
Paper towels, napkins, paper plates, and tissues are all paper products, however, they are never recyclable. Because they usually come in contact with food wastes, greases, and possibly bodily fluids, they are not able to be “cleaned” during the recycling process and should not be with other “clean” paper waste like magazines and copy paper. Always throw these items into the trash. Note: Even unused napkins and plates should not be recycled. However, they should be used for something before they are thrown away.
With this knowledge, you can make our community’s recycling efforts more efficient– which benefits all of us, and the Earth too!