As our lives become greener with every action, purchase, and eco-conscious decision, sometimes it’s easy to assume just about everything is recyclable. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely the case, and as responsible DIY’ers it’s our responsibilty to educate ourselves on the dos and don’ts of proper, effective recycling.
In the continuing spirit of America Recycles Day (which, really, should be longer than a day), we’d like to share these tips on what’s not recyclable in your regular waste disposal program and where to find appropriate recycling programs for these problem items:
According to Paul Smith of The Daily Green, while it’s getting easier to collect recyclable material, it’s getting harder to reuse it.
He states that with the advent of “single stream” recycling, it’s easier for the consumer to recycle items, but it’s harder for recycling companies to find appropriate uses for the materials, mostly due to contamination.
The two major examples of this are broken glass and food-waste paper. With broken glass, especially if it comes from broken windows, drinking glasses, Pyrex or mirrors, it should just be thrown away because it’s compositionally different than your average recyclable glass. Mixing it in with recyclable glass can cause machine malfunction at the recycling center, causing loads of otherwise reusable material to be wasted.
As for food-waste papers, it’s too difficult for most recycling plants to separate the layers of paper from the possible bacterial contamination from grease, residue, and in the cases of disposable drinkware like coffee cups and milk cartons, the wax and/or plastic meant to keep your beverages in.
Two great resources to find out where you can recycle these types of items are Earth911 (where you can also find events in your area for America Recycles Day) and TerraCycle.
Photo 1: orphanjones
Photo 2: timtak