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Why Should I Follow the Recycling Rules?

4 December 2012


I live in an apartment with, lets say, a limited recycling program. On the recycling bin it reads “Plastic, glass bottles, and aluminum. NO BAGS!” Although every time I take the recycling out there are bags in the bin. So I decided to research  why recycling companies do not accept bags in the recycling bins.

In fact, contamination in the recycling business is a big problem. Some estimates put the costs of irresponsible contamination in the neighborhood of $700 million per year industry-wide.-Earth911

This cost is due to damaged machinery, disposal costs for non-recyclable material, and wasted time and materials. Here are examples of a few items and how they contaminate and damage the recycling system.

Plastic bags: These cause damage by wrapping themselves around the machinery, often causing the plant to be shut down, until the bags are removed. To help avoid this situation,  recycle your plastic bags at specific bins which are located at most grocery stores.

Grease: Grease from food left on paper plates and pizza boxes makes it difficult to recycle paper and cardboard properly. Paper fibers cannot separate from oil which causes big problems for the quality of the recycled product. Grease soiled plates and pizza boxes have to be thrown away or composted.

Plastic bottle caps:Yes they are plastic, but they should usually be thrown away. The plastic it’s made out of doesn’t melt at the same temperature point, and if one un-melted cap is mixed with melted bottles, the whole batch can be ruined. Avoid contributing to the problem and throw plastic bottle caps in the trash.

What I learned from my research is that you CAN contaminate your recycling. This means when you sneak items into the recycling, such as pizza boxes or plastic bags, you may end up doing more harm than good. Although recycling is important for our environment, contamination may reduce the amount of recycling material able to be used. Pay attention to what your city or building accepts, and follow the rules. If you would like to recycle like crazy, you can simply take your recycling to a collection site.

What not to put in the bin, Earth911


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mimi permalink
    4 December 2012 12:36 pm

    Emma, I have saved plastic bottlecaps and taken them to Aveda for recycling. Something I learned from the Master Recycling program was to leave them on the bottle. What do you think of these ideas? Recycling Gal

    • 5 December 2012 1:49 pm

      HI Mimi,

      After looking further into that specific issue, I found this:
      “Recycling processing equipment has improved over the years, the organizations say, allowing bottles with caps on to be compressed without the projectile issue and the two materials to later be divided into their separate plastic streams. With these technical advancements, leaving caps on the bottles may actually make the recycling process run more smoothly for sorting facilities, the organizations found.”- Earth911

      So as long as the tops are ON the bottles it could be okay. Although we don’t know the specific equipment each recycling center has, so it may be good to just stay on the safe side and throw them away.

      Thanks for your comment!

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