Recycling rules are confusing. As managers of recycling programs are struggling with too much “contaminated” material, it’s important to know what will work and what won’t. An article on the Tucson.com website offered some simple tips.
Share these with building occupants to help streamline recycling programs and guarantee environmental stewardship.
• Bottles, cans and plastic containers should be empty, clean and dry. Rinse anything that contained something other than water. But don’t sweat the “dry” – a bit of water won’t hurt.
• Put the lids back on bottles after rinsing and don’t crush the cans. Recycling plants uses optical sorters and flattened aluminum cans aren’t always recognized.
• No food or grease should be left on anything you recycle.
• Rigid plastic can be recycled, but it’s best to confine the items to bottles and jugs. For example, liquid laundry detergent bottles are fine as long as the last remnants of the detergent are rinsed away.
• Never put plastic grocery bags in recycling bins. Many people reuse these bags to carry their lunch, but they should be sorted separate from recycling. Take them to a grocery store that accepts them. Other “never” items are bubble wrap, plastic straws and Styrofoam. But, if you’re not sure whether you can recycle something, don’t.
Popular Science provides additional tips for proper recycling. For example:
• Watch your can liners. In most states, clear can liners are the only acceptable option for handling recycled materials. Better yet, ditch the bag altogether. Some progressive states are already looking at eliminating liners for recycled materials.
• Scrap metals — such as old pipes — are contaminants. They are recyclable but need to be taken to a facility that can handle them.
• Crushed cartons can contaminate recycling because they’re harder to sort out when flattened.