One thing we can all agree on is that recycling can be complicated. Rules change every time and what is recyclable today might not be recyclable tomorrow. Chances are high that your recycling the wrong items. The good news is that you’re not at fault. Well, not most of the time anyway. The majority of the items we use daily are confusing because of the material they are made of. What you might think is paper, may actually be a mixture of other materials. Here are the top 6 things you should never recycle.
But wait! Isn’t glass recyclable? Glass is but broken glass isn’t. It’s risky for the workers who collect and sort items at the recycling center. Plus, not all types of glasses can be recycled. Window glasses, for instance, are made to be more durable compared to glass used in packaging and should not be recycled. Similarly, glassware such as drinking glasses and vases should be trashed. The reason behind this is that different glasses require different temperatures to reach the melting point. Therefore, the more durable a type of glass is, the more difficult it is to melt. Very few companies have the resources to handle such glasses.
Many food retailers are favoring the use of compostable food containers to replace Styrofoam or polystyrene containers. Although they are sometimes recyclable, not all communities accept Styrofoam for recycling. Foam items are usually the plastic numbered six and they aren’t biodegradable. Thus, they can sit in the landfills for a very long time. You might want to confirm with your community first before putting those food containers in the recycle bin. Others may only accept them if they are clean, that is, without food leftovers.
You should never try to recycle food waste. Discard or compost it instead. If you can’t compost the food in your own backyard, ask around for any available composting program in your vicinity. But please, never throw big chunks of food residue into the curbside cart. They are greasy, gross and dirty. The recyclers need a healthy working environment and the less contamination there is, the better for them.
Sometimes, little food leftovers are acceptable and you don’t have to wipe those food containers spotless. This also goes for the never-ending pizza box debate. Just make sure the oily parts of the box are removed before putting it in the bin. If the damage is already done, please trash the pizza box. During recycling, the paper is mixed with water to form a slurry. And, as you’re aware, water and oil don’t mix. So, if the paper (pizza box) was greasy, it will render the whole recyclable lot useless.
Anything electronics should never end up in the recycling. These include TVs, computers, phones, vacuum cleaners, keyboards and mouse among many others. Most of the consumer electronics are manufactured using rare earth elements. This makes them highly valuable and because their supply is limited, they become very expensive. So, next time you upgrade your phone or TV, the first step should be to take them to the electronics recycling shop near you. If the electronics are still in good working condition, consider donating them instead.
Always stay safe when handling dangerous products. Hazardous materials are either flammable, corrosive, or toxic. They include items like aerosol sprays, poison, medical waste, motor oil, paint, and batteries. Aerosol cans are pressurized and pose a great risk for workers at the recycling centers. The same applies to batteries. Apart from being corrosive, lithium-ion batteries can cause fires. They don’t belong either in the recycle bin or the trash bin. Always check the cans or containers if they are empty before disposing them of. Depending on your location, you might have to find a separate drop-off point.
Any Item That Can Tangle
There are certain cords that can be recycled. The problem is, you’ll need to separate the parts. If you have anything that is stringy and can tie a knot without cutting into two, they are known as “tanglers” in the recycling world. They include chains, garden hoses, and electronic cords. They shouldn’t be recycled for the simple fact they snag recycling equipment which can bring the whole operation to a halt. Luckily, you can find places that recycle electronic cords and connectors.
There are many items that we, as consumers, need to learn whether to recycle them or not. It’s, therefore, recommended that you visit your local government’s site to understand the rules. Some will surprise you.