Are you confused about the things you can and cannot recycle? Do you want to play a role in keeping your surroundings green and clean? Recycling trash cans reduce the waste that ends in landfills. You get to save energy, resources, and money. Many people are aware of the benefits of recycling.
But, the confusion about which items go into the recycle bin prevents them from doing a proper job. For instance, should you recycle the yogurt container? What about the ketchup bottle? Can the egg carton go into the recycling bin? There are so many questions about recycling containers. One of the main questions is how you can use them. This guide provides the answer to this, along with how to sort your trash. Let’s dive in!
The Purpose Of Using Recycling Containers
Why not put all your trash in a single trash receptacle and let the collection center do the sorting? When you dump all the waste in one bin, you contaminate the recyclable items. The facility will not be able to recycle the item. By separating at the source, you can make sure that it will end up at the recycling center.
Why Waste Separation Is Important?
Separating waste helps in many ways. It ensures the materials you recycle are used for making new products. Recycled plastic forms crates or packaging material. Organic waste creates biogas. The waste paper helps in generating new paper.
When you separate waste, you decrease the amount that is burnt. This lowers carbon dioxide emissions. It has a positive effect on the environment. By reusing and recycling, you reduce the use of new materials for producing items.
How Do I Use The Recycle Bin?
A recycle bin helps separate your trash. You can find garbage cans of different types and make. There are steel waste bin models and plastic containers also.
You can find a single stream bin and models with more than one stream. With many slots, it will be easy to separate the items you want to recycle. Since sorting is the confusing part, here is a detailed guide on how you can recycle your trash.
Sorting Your Plastic Waste Items
All materials made of plastic come under plastic waste. This includes bottles and packaging stuff, along with:
- Ice cream and yogurt cups
- Sauce and oil squeeze bottle
- Shampoo and detergent vials
- Water, soft drinks, and milk bottles
- Cheese and meat packaging
- Toothpaste and gel tubes
- Food and drink cans
By proper recycling, you can make new products like packaging or building materials.
How To Sort Your Plastic Recyclables?
You should use separate recycling and trash bins for collecting. Most collection centers expect it. Collect the plastic items in a separate bin. Some of the plastics are more recyclable than the rest. Make sure to know what items your community recycling program accepts.
Know The Symbols On The Plastic Items
Plastic items have symbols present on them to identify the resin used for making them. The number is seen inside a triangle or the recycling arrow symbol. With the number, you can know whether your local recycling facility will accept it or not. The numbers start from 1 and go up to 7. But, each center differs in the type of resin it accepts. Here are a few tips:
Plastic containers carry the numbers #1 and #2. Number #4 is for plastic bags, and #7 denotes mixed plastics. While #7 is not recyclable, most centers accept #1 and #2 types of plastics.
#1 plastic resin is used for making plastic bottles recyclable. You can reprocess them into items like fleece fabric. Make sure to remove their caps before you recycle them. But, bottles made of #7 plastic are not reusable. Do not reuse the PET or #1 plastic bottles. This is because cleaning releases harmful chemicals.
Grocery bags belong to #2 recyclable plastic. You can see separate bins at grocery stores and recycling facilities for these bags.
Items like food trays and egg cartons are of #6 plastic. This plastic is not biodegradable. But, some recycling centers accept this type of resin. Ask your collection center whether it accepts the polystyrene material.
#5 plastics contain polypropylene. Cheese, yogurt, and margarine are some items that use #5 plastic for packaging. You can find it in bottle tops and food wraps.
This plastic type is the least expensive to make and also the least recyclable. Throw these items in your regular stainless steel trash can.
To reduce the waste due to this type of plastic, choose items that have #2 plastic packaging. Or, you can consider reusing the items.
Sorting Glass Materials
Glass items like beverage and food containers are recyclable. It is cheaper to make new glass from the recycled material than from raw ingredients. Most recycling programs take glass items of all colors and types. The facility sorts these materials according to the color.
But, in some localities, the recycling program needs you to sort them according to the color. Sort the brown, green, and clear items. Such items are container glasses and are recyclable. You can leave the paper labels on them.
Sort the items with a high melting point like:
- Sheet glass
These are of a different composition than regular glass containers. Most recycling centers will not accept them.
Fluorescent light bulbs are recyclable in some centers. The IKEA store in your locality may recycle them.
Recycling Metal cans
Steel, copper, and aluminum cans are recyclable. Here are a few tips on their recycling.
- Rinse the food cans and remove the labels and lids on them. Flatten the cans so they don’t take up much space.
- Aluminum cans are recyclable. But, do not crush or compress them. Some recycling centers do not accept them in flattened form.
- You can also recycle foil packaging and aluminum foil. The items can be used for making engine parts and other such items.
- Aerosol and paint cans are valuable recycling materials. But, these come under hazardous waste. So, collect them in separate stainless steel trash and recycling bin.
- Copper cans are recyclable. Their recycling process needs 15% of the energy used for making the items from the raw material.
Recycling Paper and Cardboard
All paper waste items come under cardboard and paper. But, make sure the material is clean. Items such as printing material, documents, etc. are recyclable.
You can reuse them up to 8 times for making the new product. Commercial spaces see more of such waste. Such places can use trendy containers like a black-colored or a white steel trash can.
Some common items under paper and cardboard include:
- Writing paper
- Cardboard packaging
- Gift wrapping
- Old newspapers
How To Sort
- For newspapers, have a separate bin as they go straight into newspaper recycling. A newspaper stack of about four feet can save a 40-foot-high fir tree.
- Other paper items like magazines, envelopes, and others can be put in a single bin. Take care to remove the plastic wrap and rubber bands from the paper. Staples can be left as such.
- Avoid recycling the stickers and carbon paper as they are not recyclable. The collection centers also do not accept laminated paper and cardboard items.
- Paper drink cartons with plastic lining are recyclable. Many recycling facilities accept them. But, food-stained paper tissues are not recyclable.
- Corrugated cardboard is a valuable recycling material. You need to bale the cardboard items together and tie the bales using a string. Make sure it is dry, as wet cardboard clogs the sorting machines.
- Foil or wax-lined cartons are not recyclable. Foil wrapping paper and glitter-covered wrapping also come under this type. Other items you cannot put in the recycling bin include waxed paper and polystyrene.
Organic waste includes biodegradable waste. You can ferment, incinerate, or gasify the waste to create biofuel. You can also compost the waste and use it as a fertilizer for plants.
The organic waste materials include:
- Vegetable and fruit peels
- Flowers and plants
- Coffee filters and tea bags
- Food waste
- Garden waste
- Wood waste like sawdust
- Sorting Organic Waste
Use a compost bin or a small container for the waste. Organic waste goes into the green recycle bin. When the bin is full, you can take it out for curbside collection.
Hazardous Waste Items
Products like paints, batteries, etc. come under hazardous waste. They contain harmful ingredients. So, you need to take special care in disposing of them. When you dump them on the ground or down the drain, they harm your surroundings. Do not throw them in your regular waste container.
Here are a few tips to dispose of such items:
- Look for collection facilities in your locality that collect and recycle such toxic products.
- In some areas, the businesses that sell such products agree to take them for recycling.
- When you dispose of such harmful waste, check with your local collection center to know the rules.
You need to collect electronic waste items in a separate container. A simple way to recycle items like computers and printers is to donate them. You can give them to the local school or non-profit groups.
Many electronic goods’ makers accept used devices. HP, for instance, accepts old printer cartridges. Some companies have prepaid packaging for return shipping while buying new cartridges.
Old tires left in your garage can harbor pests like rodents. There is also the danger of the tire piles catching fire. You can recycle the used tires at your local garage when you install new ones.
You can also return the used tires to the tire retailer. Or, your local recycling facility may also accept used tires. Look for collection events held in your locality for old tires.
Do not pour motor oil down your drain. The oil can contaminate freshwater sources nearby. Instead, try recycling the used oil. You can safeguard your water supply and help reduce the procurement of foreign oil.
Most garages accept used oil for recycling. Even automotive supply stores recycle used oil. Find out which stores accept used oil in your locality.
Recycling Rules You Should Know
You must know the right way of recycling materials. When you use single-stream recycling, you should be extra careful. Even a single error can make the entire bin contents end in the landfill. This is because improper recycling causes contamination of the materials.
The materials damage and clog the recycling devices at the facilities. They charge more for recycling to offset the cost of incorrect recycling. To avoid this from occurring, here are a few key rules you should know:
- Empty the food and drink containers and rinse them out. Food residue makes them unrecyclable. If the food container is made of Styrofoam, put it in the trash.
- Don’t remove the labels on the containers. They melt or burn during recycling, so you need not remove them. This will save you the effort of peeling them off.
- Smaller pieces of items can harm the sorting machines at the recycling center. If you have items that are smaller than a sticky note, put them in the general waste bin.
- If the lids on the cans or containers are of the same material you can leave them as such. If not, remove the lid and toss it into the general trash bin.
- The tapes on cardboard boxes and other items are not recyclable. Remove them before you recycle the item.
- Look for the numbers on the plastic items. Remember that #1 and #2 are easy to recycle. Most collection centers accept them.
- Don’t hesitate to toss in the plastic items with numbers #3 to #7 in the recycling bin. The recycling facilities sort the materials and remove the unrecyclable items.
- When you recycle paper, there is one simple rule of thumb to remember. If you can tear the paper, it is recyclable. But, make sure to place the shredded paper in a separate labeled bag.
- The plastic dispenser pumps in shampoo and soap bottles are not recyclable. Remove the pumps and toss them into your regular trash bin. Recycle the bottle.
- You can also recycle electronic waste items that cannot go into your recycle bin. Items like batteries and electronics are recyclable through special e-waste recycling programs.
The above guide covers most of the items in your trash that you can recycle. Not only are they easy to follow, but they also help you in doing it right. Use these tips and guidelines for proper recycling. You will have the satisfaction of contributing towards a greener earth. A key part of the process is having separate recycling containers at your home or office.
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