Even with the best intentions, our efforts to recycle cans, plastics, and bottles may be falling short.
While recycling specifics can vary depending on your neighborhood and provider, there are some broad guidelines that can improve our efforts no matter where you live!
Of the 2.7 MILLION TONS (!!) of aluminum Americans discard every year - only half of it is recycled. Did you know an aluminum can is able to be returned to the shelf, as a new can, as quickly as 60 days after it's put into your recycling container?!
First and foremost - rinse it! Whether you're trying to recycle a soda can or a cardboard box, each item needs to be clean and free of food waste.
Nearly all types of paper can be recycled - and that includes glossy papers like magazines. Don't forget you can also recycle all that 'junk mail' that piles up, too.
How do you get your recycling into the bin? Well, don't throw it in there in a plastic bag.
Although most plastic bags are recyclable , you can't throw them in with everything else. Save the plastic grocery store bags and return them to your local store, as they usually have special drop-offs for them.
You can also leave caps on bottles! It can actually be more dangerous if the cap comes off as it can get snagged in recycling equipment down the line.
Love shredding? Consider using your shredded paper as compost instead of recycling.
When you recycle paper that has been shredded, it can only be used as "mixed grade" paper in the future (think the stuff phone books are made of). Not all recyclers will accept shredded paper, either.
And, you don't need to crush your cartons before recycling them - if you do - they'll get sorted in with normal paper.
While most cans, bottles, and boxes can be recycled, here's what you can't stick in the green bin:
- Plastic bags
- Ceramics such as dishware, Pyrex glass (that's heat-resistant)
Mixed colors of broken glass
Mirror or window glass
That greasy pizza box (likely has too much food residue on it to be recyclable)
Juice boxes and milk cartons (many of them have a thin plastic coating on the inside and cardboard on the outside, something recycling facilities can't separate and reuse).
Garden hoses, Christmas lights, shower curtains (a.k.a. stuff you're just trying to get rid of. Don't just chuck it in the recycle bin! You'll cause delays in sorting and production down the line. Wishful thinking doesn't make it recyclable!)
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