Recycling Tips- Do’s and Don’ts

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. It is an alternative to “conventional” waste disposal that can save material and help lower greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling can prevent the waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, thereby reducing: energy usage, air pollution (from incineration), and water pollution (from landfilling).

While most of us try to do what we can to recycle, more often than I’d like to admit, I see people putting all the wrong things in the recycling bins. So, here’s a few “Do’s and Don’ts” about recycling if you really want to do your share to protect the environment.

Paper: All clean dry paper, including:
• Computer paper
• Ledger paper
• Arts and craft paper
• Unwanted mail
• Flyers
• Telephone books
• Note cards
• Newspaper
• Magazines
• File folders
• Paper bags
• Post-it notes
• Catalogs
• All envelopes, including those with windows

Cardboard: All cardboard boxes and chipboard, including:
• Cereal boxes
• Tissue boxes
• Dry food boxes
• Frozen food boxes
• Shoe boxes
• Detergent boxes
• Paper towel and toilet paper rolls
• Cardboard boxes (broken down and flattened)

Cartons: All refrigerated, shelf-stable, aseptic packaging, including:
• Fruit juice boxes and cartons
• Orange juice cartons
• Milk cartons
• Wine boxes
• Cereal boxes
• Heavy cream cartons
• Egg substitute cartons

Metals: All aluminum, tin, metal, and bi-metal cans, wiped out if possible, including:
• Soda cans
• Juice cans
• Soup cans
• Vegetables cans
• Pet food cans
• Pie tins
• Clean aluminum foil
• Empty paint and aerosol cans
• Wire hangers

Glass: All glass bottles and jars, wiped out if possible, including:
• Soda bottles
• Wine bottles
• Beer bottles
• Spaghetti sauce jars
• Pickle jars
• Broken bottles

Plastics: Empty plastic containers, wiped out if possible, including:
• Soda bottles
• Juice bottles
• Detergent containers
• Bleach containers
• Shampoo bottles
• Lotion bottles
• Mouthwash bottles
• Dishwashing liquid bottles
• Milk jugs
• Tubs for margarine and yogurt
• Plastic planters
• Food and blister packaging
• Rigid clamshell packaging
• All clean plastic bags (grocery bags, dry cleaner bags, and film plastics)
• All clean polystyrene products (plates, cups, containers, egg cartons, block packaging, and packing materials)
• Plastic hangers
• Non-electric plastic toys
• Plastic swimming pools
• Plastic laundry baskets
• Car seats (cloth removed)

If the following items are put in the recycling container, there’s a likelihood of contaminating the other clean materials. Placing a non-recyclable item in the recycling bin often results in the entire bin getting tossed in the trash. Here are some items that should be left out of the recycle bin.

Contaminated Paper: Heavily soiled papers or bags with oils or food waste.

That old pizza box may be made of cardboard and it might even have a recycling logo on it, but that doesn’t mean it belongs in the bin. This is because old pizza boxes, like so many other used products, get dirty during their lifetime and lose their recycling qualities. Contaminants like grease and glue will actually disrupt the processes needed to extract raw materials and will ruin an entire batch of materials intended to be recycled. When sanitation workers find a single contaminated product, in order not to contaminate the larger batch, they will toss the entire load of recycling into the trash.

• Food covered plastic cups
• Food covered cardboard
• Used paper towels
• Used paper cups/plates
• Shredded paper
• Colored Construction Paper

• Window glass
• Mirror glass
• Auto glass
• Standard light bulbs
• Crystal
• Ceramics

Miscellaneous Materials:
• Cloth/fabric
• Mini blinds
• Kitchen utensils
• Lawn furniture
• Garden hoses
• Rubber tires
• Construction materials, including asphalt or concrete, wood and wood products

Electronic Waste:
• All electronic devices
• Electrical cords and wiring
• Electric or battery-operated toys
• Appliances
• Compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs
• All batteries (including car batteries, household batteries, and rechargeable batteries)

E-waste is accepted at the curbside by special appointment or by drop-off at S.A.F.E. Centers and Mobile Collection Events.

Hazardous Materials:
• Syringes and needles
• Medical waste
• Drugs (pills, liquids, gel caps, vials, and injectables)
• All partially filled aerosol cans and containers for cleaning fluids, automotive fluids, pesticides, oil-based paint, garden chemicals, and pool cleaners

Household hazardous waste (HHW) can be taken to S.A.F.E. Centers and Mobile Collection Events.

NOTE: Danger to Recycling Machines:
Discarded items undergo a lengthy process before they can be reused. There is a tremendous amount of sorting that needs to be done before products can return to a raw material stage. The machines that do this work break down just like any other machine that might be used. This means that workers need to take special precautions with what they place in them to prevent any potential damage.

So, when it comes to recycling, when it doubt, leave it out. For more information about recycling, go to:

Of course, there are other ways to recycle as well. For example, you can re-use items many times over before discarding (ie. plastic water bottles and plastic bags)

You can also use something for a purpose other than that item’s intended purpose (ie. an egg crate can serve as a great way to store earrings)

Give something to someone else who can use what you don’t want or need so it doesn’t wind up in the trash.

There are countless ways to recycle. I just wanted you to be more aware of the Do’s and Don’ts that we either never knew or perhaps just forgot.

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Thank you!