Recycling is important for the environment because it reduces the need to use new raw materials as well as the amount of waste that is sent to landfill. While people who try to recycle have good intentions, they don’t realize how to do it effectively. And when it comes to recycling, one tiny mistake can prevent your materials from making it to the end of the recycling line. There are some necessary steps that you should take to ensure proper recycling. These include the following:
Know What to Put in the Recycling Bin
Depending on your city and state, your recycling bins will have different recycling symbols. Look for signs of which type of bin to use underneath the recycling container. If there are no signs or symbols available, then it is recommended that you find the information by calling the relevant authorities or via online. The signs generally correspond to local bins, but if you are not sure, just follow basic rules by always recycling cans, plastic, and paper.
Know What is Not Recyclable
Not all materials are recyclable, even if they look like they are. For example, there are seven different kinds of plastic and not all of them can be recycled yet. So, it is highly recommended that you learn what’s recyclable before proceeding. One easy way is to check the packaging and labels of things you purchase. It should give you the information required as to what parts you can or cannot recycle, as well as how to dispose them.
Rinse Out or Clean Items
Making sure that the items are prepared properly is one of the most important steps in the recycling process. Things like cans, bottles, and food packaging will need to be cleaned and washed out before they can be recycled. By rinsing out jars, cans, plastic trays, etc. you can do your part to make sure that these materials will make it to the end of the recycling line.
Don’t Bag it
Bagging the recyclable materials in plastic bags is one mistake many people make. But did you know that sorters at recycling centers have to open and check each and every plastic bag that passes through? This can significantly slow down the process. So, make sure that you toss the recyclables directly in the bin. If you have plastic bags that you need to throw away, take them to a dedicated plastic bag recycling plant.
If You Don’t Know Then Throw It Out
Whenever you are unsure about what you can recycle, check the website of your local council for more information. Putting unrecyclable items in the recycling bin can contaminate the perfectly recyclable items that are there, making them unrecyclable as well. So, if you don’t know whether the material is recyclable, take it out of the recycle bin and throw it in the garbage instead.
Doing what we can for the environment is now more important than ever and even though our individual footprints might not have the most impact, we must do our part in making a positive change. The above-listed tips will set you on the path to recycling in the most efficient away.
Photos by: Jack Church, Pawel Czerwinski, shvets production, Lisa Fotios, Sarah Chai, Lara Jameson