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Friday, December 14, 2007

Five Tips For Better Recycling

From Earth 911

Have you ever wondered if there’s a proper etiquette to recycle your products? If your recycling bin could talk, would it be providing suggestions for how to be more eco-efficient?

Earth 911 is here to offer five easy recycling tips that come directly from recycling centers. It may require a little more work on your end, but it could also mean the difference between your recyclables ending up as new products or lining the next landfill.

Know Before You Throw
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 75 percent of the contents you’ll find in a garbage can are recyclable, but that doesn’t mean all these products are recyclable through your curbside program. There are seven different types of plastic, and many curbside recycling programs only take in plastics #1 and #2.

These two points lead to the following reality: recycling bins shouldn’t be seen as a second trash can, with the thought that everything will be sorted once it arrives at a distribution center. If a material isn’t taken by that center, chances are it will end up in the trash instead of recycled elsewhere.

Remove The Accessories
Many of your plastic and glass bottles (even some metal cans) will come with a paper label to identify the product. Glass jars usually have metal lids, and the plastic caps on drink containers are made of a different plastic than the bottle.

Accessories should be removed so this process doesn’t have to be done at the recycling center. Labels can be placed in your paper recycling, and metal lids can be sorted with your aluminum and tin. Even if your curbside program is single-stream (commingled), it is still a good idea to remove these lids and labels before you place them in a recycling bin.

Rinse Your Containers
Unless your jar, can or bottle originally contained water, it will likely leave behind sticky or sugary remains even after you’ve finished every drop. Similar to how you wouldn’t leave these sticky substances on your kitchen counters, you don’t want them on your recyclables.

A quick rinsing in the sink should easily remove any sauce or leftover liquid. With the lids off your containers (see above), the water drops will evaporate leaving a clean container.

Sticky containers can lead to ants and other unwanted visitors, not to mention dirty up your recycling bin. Plus, if your containers are mixed with paper in one bin, the paper can get contaminated by non-water liquids and become unrecyclable.

Watch the Weather
This is especially true for paper recycling, or if your recycling is picked up in open air containers instead of sealed bins. If paper recycling is left out in the rain, it will become soggy and mutilated to the point that it can’t be recycled.

Similarly, it’s not a good idea to try and recycle paper that has gotten wet inside your house. If you use newspaper to stop roof leaks, it’s probably better to use this paper in your winter fires. Many locations dissuade recycling yellow newspaper, so your older newsprint can serve as a fire starter as well.

Save Some Space
Any cardboard boxes should be collapsed so that they can fit easier in your recycling bin. It’s not necessary to remove the tape, especially at the risk of tearing up your cardboard.

Also try and collapse other paper packaging, such as milk/juice containers. You’ll be able to pack more recycling into your bin, and there will be more room in the recycling trucks.

These five tips should take less than five minutes to implement, and will save countless time at the recycling center. To be on the safe side, though, check with your local recycling program to see if there are any additional special instructions for your neighborhood.

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