Recycling is important. However, sometimes we are unsure about what we can and cannot recycle. Your community may have certain guidelines that expand upon or require you to recycle certain materials separately. Make sure that you are following these guidelines.
Generally, you should recycle all bottles, cans, and paper. Make sure that these items are kept relatively clean when you place them into the recycling bin. Additionally, be sure not mix plastic bags in with your recycling, as these are not recyclable.
What should you recycle?
- Rigid plastics and bottles. This includes any plastic bottles or containers found in your kitchen.
- Paper and cardboard. This includes cereal and snack cardboard boxes, phone books, magazines, and mail, and any newspaper, office paper, and cardboard. However, you should not recycle any wet cardboard. Wet cardboard can clog the sorting machines. To avoid this, throw it away.
- This includes any tin, aluminum, or steel cans, such as a soda can or can of soup.
- This includes any food containers or jars, soft drink or beer bottles, and wine or liquor bottles.
What shouldn’t you recycle?
- Loose plastic bags. As we mentioned before, do not include plastic bags with your recycling. Additionally, you should not recycle any plastic stretch wrap.
- Polystyrene foam cups or containers. Any containers made from polystyrene foam, or Styrofoam, should not be recycled. This includes egg cartons, take-out containers, and drinking cups.
- Soiled food products. Do not recycle any food-soiled containers or soiled paper products.
- There are a few other objects that don’t quite fit into the other categories. These include items such as broken glass, fast food packaging, plastic utensils, squeezable ketchup bottles, and microwaveable dishes.
Some recycling tips
- Don’t recycle bottle tops. Bottle tops are made from different materials than the actual bottle is made from. However, don’t worry if you forget to take the bottle cap off. They are sorted later at the recycling plant.
- Don’t worry about getting every bit of material out of a bottle. Don’t worry if you can’t get the last bits of peanut butter out of the jar. The machinery at the recycler removes all the remaining contaminants from the jar. Just rinse it out as best as you can!
- Aluminum cans are gold! The aluminum can is the most recycled item, but also the most valuable item to be recycled. Aluminum cans can be recycled over and over again and can be regenerated and placed back on the shelves within 60 days, so make sure your cans are ending up in the recycling bin.