Over 10,000 communities have adopted curbside recycling programs. These programs are typically run by local waste management companies who pick up the recycling bins alongside the regular trash. Approximately 700 of these programs are single-stream programs, which allow users to place all recycling materials into a single bin rather than separating them.
While statistics show that single-stream programs increase recycling by 25 percent, it all increases what is known as aspirational recycling. People want to recycle and help clean up the planet, so they place items that can’t be recycled in the bin. Unfortunately, just a few incorrect items may ruin an entire truckload. Watch out for these items that are often recycled incorrectly.
Greasy Pizza Boxes
Pizza boxes are made of cardboard, so people often believe they can be recycled. The oil from the cheese is the problem. When the oil seeps into the cardboard, it makes its way into the small fibers. The oil cannot be removed, which makes the box less desirable and more likely to be thrown into the landfill. A few small crumbs and a little grease are typically okay, but if a lot of grease has seeped into the box, throw it away with the regular trash.
Recyclables with Food Residue
Many items that can be recycled are often rejected due to food residue. A small amount of milk left in the jug, scraps of takeout in a plastic tray or a few vegetables left in a can ruin an entire batch. Quickly rinsing out these recyclable items increases the likelihood of them being accepted by the center and keeps them out of the landfill. Items don’t need to be scrubbed completely; simply rinse any remaining food or liquids out of the container and place in the appropriate recycling bin.
Plastic can be an item that is often confused when it comes to recycling. Many people assume because milk and juice jugs are recyclable, all plastic can be placed in the bin. In January 2018, China banned used plastics from its recycling centers. Because the United States relies on China for most of its recycling, very few plastic items are able to be recycled. Yogurt cups are a common item placed in recycling bins that are refused by recycling centers. Only plastic items that contain the numbers three to seven in the triangle at the bottom of the container can be recycled.