Hello World! Do you recycle and do you know if you’re doing it properly? We have recycling where I live but we’ve never been given any guidelines as to what is right or wrong so I really don’t know if I’m doing it right. I wash all that I recycle; mostly so my garage doesn’t smell, but I know they don’t want dirty recycled items. I don’t separate items since I was never told it was necessary; and we are are not given enough bins to do so.
I’ve also wondered if our trash company doesn’t dump everything in the landfill anyway. I’ve watched them time after time as they simply dump all my recycled items into one big trash truck so I doubt that we need to separate items. How can I know for sure what happens to recycled items? Have you ever wondered about this?
What Really Happens When You Recycle Wrong?
Have you ever wondered what actually happens when you don’t follow your recycling rules properly? When you make a mistake and you recycle something that cannot be recycled? Or you put glass into a container meant for your paper recyclables? Is the sorting really that important? (it depends on where you live and what the guidelines are for your area.)
Yes. If your recycling habits aren’t up to snuff, it may mean that everything you recycle ends up in your landfill.
That’s right, if recycling is poorly mixed or mishandled, it just gets dumped.
Secondary sifting can be too costly and time consuming, so it is often easier for centers to just trash your mismanaged recyclables. But what about when you mix one little glass jar with a big box of plastics? Depending on the features of your local recycling center, inappropriately mixed items in the waste stream can clog up machinery, resulting in even greater costs and manpower hours.
And it gets worse. The US, along with a handful of other countries, used to ship a hefty portion of our recyclables to China. But, as of Jan.1, 2018, China is no longer accepting foreign waste. The foreign recyclables were often so poorly sorted and poorly cleaned, it no longer became worthwhile for the Chinese to sort through and process it. That means here in the US, we need to clean up our act.
CLEAN ALL OF YOUR ITEMS.
Bad news: if you aren’t cleaning your items, they may not be getting
recycled at all. Things need to be reasonably clean in order for your recycling facilities to process them. And it doesn’t mean you have to take out the rubber gloves and scrub these items. Just a quick rinse before you put them in your recycle bin will do. If you recycle jars that contain sticky substances like peanut butter, just fill them with some warm soapy water and let them sit in the sink for an hour or so; then you follow with a quick rinse and all your problems will be solved. Your local recycling center will thank you.
SEPARATE WITH INTENTION.
If you carelessly mix your recyclables, you might want to start paying more
attention. Depending on your local facility, carelessly sorted recyclables can result in severe slow-downs at your recycling plant. If the poorly sorted material isn’t caught, it can clog up machinery, resulting in expensive repairs and wasteful man hours to get things up and running again. Then again, some recycling centers don’t require you to sort your recyclables. That’s why you need to…
KNOW YOUR LOCAL RECYCLING GUIDELINES.
You can’t just throw plastics in to a recycling container willy-nilly. Not
every recycling center can handle every type of recycling. Most centers accept #1 and #2 plastics, but beyond that, it depends on what your local recycling center is equipped to handle. Some plastics require expensive machines to process, like single-use shopping bags, which is why they are only accepted only at select recycling centers. You should do a quick online search to find out more about what plastics your local center accepts.
Also try to find out if your recycling center uses a single-stream or a multi-stream system. If it is a single-stream system, you can mix all of your recyclables—glass, plastic, paper—in one container. A multi-stream system requires more awareness so that mismatched recyclables don’t clog up the system, which can be costly and time consuming. And whatever you do, don’t put trash into your recycling. It makes the entire process harder for everyone.
USE LESS DISPOSABLES.
The less trash you make, the less you have to recycle. Stop buying products
that come in disposable packaging in favor of making them at home or using reusable bulk bin bags. Repurpose and reuse your glass jars and your thick containers. Be conscious of how much overall trash you are creating and work to cut it. The less waste you create, the less you have to worry about recycling.
Recycling can seem like a pain when you first get started, but it becomes habitual. Make your recycling setup as simple and easy-to-use as possible to minimize your mistakes and time consumption; Recycling is not hard. It just takes awareness. Is that too much to ask of you?
I’ve been recycling for a long time? Have you? Do you reuse some products? I do whenever possible; for example, I reuse plastic supermarket bags for garbage and cat litter disposal in the regular garbage. I’ve made planters out of a number of things. Sometimes it just means you need to get creative. What, and how, do you recycle or reuse? Please let me know…
Have a great healthy day!