If it’s time to go green, it’s time to think green. What can be recycled and what can’t?
According to Waste Management, North America’s largest residential recycler managing almost 14 million tons of material that’s recycled or reused each year, there are some dos and don’ts when it comes to recycling.
• Make it clean. Does the plastic lunch container still have yesterday’s pizza in it? Don’t recycle it until it’s clean. One dirty product, or one with food waste still in it, can contaminate an entire bale, containing thousands of pounds of collected plastics. This can cause thousands of recyclable items to go to a landfill instead of being recycled. Cleanliness is essential.
• Remember to keep dirty containers out of your recycling bin. One partially empty soda bottle in a bale of plastic can spoil the whole load.
• Plastic grocery bags and produce sacks do not go in the plastic recycling bin. These bags can shut down an entire recycling plant and should be kept out.
• Aluminum cans. Make sure aluminum cans are clean. One partially empty soda can contaminate the entire recycling bin.
• Aluminum foil and bakeware can be recycled. Foil may have food particles attached, making it harder for recycling facilities to accept. Wipe it clean.
• Steel cans and tin cans (soup cans, veggie cans, coffee cans, etc.) are OK, but make sure they’re clean.
• Magazines are fine. Some think glossy paper can’t be recycled. That may have been true in the early days of recycling, but no longer.
• Office paper. Whether its high-grade paper, such as white computer paper, bond, and letterhead, or lower-grade paper, such as colored paper, file stock and ground wood papers, all of it can be recycled.
• Newspapers. More than 73 percent of all newspapers in the United States are collected and recycled. Recycled newspapers can be made into cereal boxes, egg cartons, pencil barrels, grocery bags, tissue paper and many other products, including new newspapers.
• Paperboard, such as breakfast cereal boxes and takeout pizza boxes, can be recycle. However, recycle clean paperboard only. Be sure the paperboard is free of food waste.
• Paper cardboard dairy and juice cartons. These are non-plastic milk and juice cartons. Make sure it’s empty. Don’t recycle it until it’s clean.
• Unsolicited direct mail. You may think of it as “junk mail” or you may welcome the flyers, catalogs, and coupons that appear. Either way, they can be recycled.
• Phone books. The pages in a phone book at 100 percent recyclable and are often used to make new phone books.
• Glass can come in clear, brown and green. Some curbside programs and recycling centers take only certain colors of glass. That’s because manufacturers who buy the glass have to maintain the integrity of the color when producing new glass. If the bin doesn’t indicate a specific color, any color can be placed in it. However, not all glass can be recycled. The following should never be placed in a glass recycling bin: glass contaminated with stones, dirt, and food waste; ceramics such as dishware, ovenware, and decorative items; heat-resistant glass such as Pyrex; mixed colors of broken glass; mirror or window glass; metal or plastic caps or lids; crystal; light bulbs; cathode-ray tubes found in some TVs and computer monitors.
For more information about recycling or Waste Management, visit www.wm.com.