While taking care of the planet has always been important, as of the last 10 or so years the environment and our impact on it has been in the mainstream. Climate change, pollution, carbon footprint, greenhouse gases and many others have been topics of many discussions from the dinner table to multinational government summits.
When it comes to recycling, no effort is too small to make a difference because if we all pitch in (even just a little bit) the impact can be great. There are the few main items that everyone knows are recyclable (paper, plastic, glass, etc.) but there are several items that are often lumped into those categories that are, in fact, not recyclable.
Here is a list of the most common items sorted out of the recycling bins:
Used food containers
Even if they are made from paper or cardboard like a Chinese to-go container or pizza box, these items should be left out of your recycling bin because (unless they are washed) the food particles and grease contaminate the recycling process. The oils cannot be separated from the paper fibers.
Plastic bottle caps
These caps from pop bottles, detergent containers and similar items cannot be recycled because they are made from polypropylene (plastic #5).
Plastic grocery bags
Much of the sorting process is done by machine at recycling facilities, which means that plastic bags often cause more of a hindrance of damaging equipment than good. Most grocery stores accept used bags though.
This one is usually a shocker but because Styrofoam is a petroleum product, it is extremely flammable. Due to this characteristic, it makes it dangerous to have in the recycling facilities.
Wet/Used paper products
These fall into the same category as used food containers.
Plastic coated cardboard
Due to the special coating to make them more durable or other reasons, plastic coated cardboard like juice boxes or special product packaging should not be thrown into the recycling bin. The coating prevents the fibers from being broken down during the recycling process.
Certain glass types
Commonly found in the kitchen, special types of glassware have been treated to withstand higher temperatures, which hinders the recycling process that involves melting of glass. Common types include- Pyrex, light bulbs, fluorescent lights, window glass, mirrors, eyeglasses and glass art.
Another surprise to the list, wire hangers cause recycling centers issues because they are not set up to handle any type of wire. If you are looking for a place to repurpose these, most dry cleaners will accept them.
Since recycled paper needs to be soaked to help separate the fibers, the dye from colored papers will contaminate the process much like a red shirt in a load of whites when doing laundry.
Unless completely empty, most recycling centers won’t accept these products due to danger.
Batteries should be taken to special locations that accept them because they contain heavy metals and harmful chemicals that can leak when batteries become corroded. The danger occurs when these metals and chemicals reach the drinking water. Please keep batteries out of the trash and recycling bins.
Even though you may think it is a terrible waste by throwing away thousands of these during your baby’s life, disposable diapers are not recyclable.
Common treatments of these types of products are either pouring them down the drain (corrode plumbing/contaminate water table) or throwing them in the trash (make their way to the soil and water table). Most cities will have locations that you can take hazardous materials to dispose of them properly.
While these products are more common in households, your business still may produce some of them. Many cities offer great recycling programs for its residents but businesses are often left to fend for themselves. Let Consolidated Resources, Inc. help your business recycle efficiently by providing comprehensive solutions that fit your business’s exact needs. For nearly 30 years, CRI has been serving the industrial recycling needs of businesses of Arizona.