Recycling is a great way to protect the environment and conserve natural resources. However, if you don’t follow some basic rules, your recycling efforts can actually be harmful to the planet. Recycling only what can be safely recycled in your area and removing all unnecessary items from recyclable products will help ensure that your recycling efforts are effective.
Recycle Only Recyclable Products
Recycling is a good way to reduce trash and eliminate waste, but it’s important to make sure that what you’re recycling can actually be recycled. Before tossing something in the blue bin, check with your local waste management service or recycling center to see if they accept it. If they don’t, try finding out which materials are accepted at a nearby facility by visiting their website or calling them directly. Professional recycling centers usually use recycling software as it is a helpful tool for managing recycling businesses.
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re not recycling products that don’t belong in the blue bin. For example, some products contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment if they aren’t recycled properly. Check out our list of common items that should not be recycled for more information.
Rinse Before Recycling
If you’re recycling a water bottle, milk jug or other container, make sure to rinse it out first. Unrinsed containers can contaminate the recycling process and make your haul of recyclables unusable. To wash out a container, simply fill it with hot water and swirl around for a minute or so—this is called “hot washing” of your containers.
Once you’ve finished washing out your bottles and jugs, be sure to dry them thoroughly before putting them in your recycling bin for pickup!
Don’t Bag Recyclables in a Plastic Bag
Plastic bags are one of the worst offenders when it comes to contaminating recycling streams, so you should never place them inside your plastic recycling bin. If you do, they can end up being sent off as waste and wind up in a landfill. Instead of using a plastic bag to hold your recyclable material together (such as cans, bottles and cardboard), use newspaper or cardboard instead. This way there’s no risk of contamination when it goes through the sorting process at the plant where it gets recycled into new products!
Remove All Packing Materials
- Make sure to remove all packing materials, such as Styrofoam and packing peanuts, before throwing containers into your recycling bin.
- Avoid contaminating the recycling process by avoiding mixing food waste or hazardous waste with your recyclables.
- Contamination of the recycling stream is a major concern for local governments that provide curbside pickup services. For example, if you cut up cardboard boxes and throw them in with your glass bottles and plastic jugs at curbside, it contaminates the entire batch of goods destined for recycling facilities (since cardboard cannot be recycled).
Don’t Recycle Plastic Bags
If you’re reading this, chances are you already know that plastic bags aren’t accepted by many recycling programs. But it’s important to understand why so many recycling facilities have chosen not to accept them.
If a plastic bag gets mixed into the bales of other recyclables, it can contaminate that bale and render it unusable for its intended purpose. This means that your well-intentioned efforts end up being a waste of resources and money. Additionally, when these contaminated plastics are used in production processes or incinerated, they release harmful pollutants into our air and water supply—pollution that could have been avoided if we simply kept them out of the recycling stream altogether!
Go ahead: bring your plastic bags back home with you from now on so they can be reused (or recycled into something else)! Most grocery stores offer free bins for customers who need one; otherwise just toss them in the trash where they belong
Don’t Recycle Hazardous Waste
Recycle your newspapers and cardboard, and compost your food scraps. But don’t recycle hazardous waste, such as batteries, light bulbs or old electronics in your recycling bin.
You can find ways to properly dispose of these items online or by contacting your local government. In addition to the environmental consequences of improperly disposing of hazardous waste, you could be fined if caught doing so illegally.
Safe and Effective Recycling is Profitable for the Environment
Recycling is good for the environment, it’s good for the economy, and it’s even good for your community! The more you recycle, the more benefits you’ll see. Recycling isn’t just about saving trees or reducing landfills—it’s about saving money and conserving natural resources that help all of us live healthier lives.
By following these tips, you can be sure that your recycling is safe for the environment and effective for our planet. We hope you find this information useful in helping to protect the environment by using less plastic and more recycled materials.