Recycling — You Might Be Doing It Wrong

So, you care about the environment, or you simply want to follow the rules. That is fine, but you might be actually doing it wrong. We all find ourselves in situations where we are unsure whether to put something in a recycling bin or a trash can. Not everyone takes the time to check the rules, though.

And as more and more things become available for recycling, the green practices get more complex. At the same time, it is getting harder to keep up the pace with the recycling technology, which is advancing by leaps and bounds. The problem is that our mistakes lead to a slew of ramifications down the line.

For example, some materials, like hard plastic, take hundreds of years to dissolve when they end up in landfills.

Put together a list

Knowing what you can toss in the recycling bin is paramount to prudent recycling. A general list of acceptable items that a typical family procures includes paper, cardboard, aluminum, 1- and 2-type plastic bottles, glass containers, and steel cans. On the other hand, things like water hoses, plastic bags, and compact fluorescent light bulbs are not recyclable.

Notice, however, that regulations vary from one municipality to the other. So to make sure you are playing by the rules, do your homework and educate yourself.  In general, one mistake people often make is putting the recyclables in a plastic bag. We possess the technology to break down the type of plastic the bags are made from, but it causes a variety of problems for companies that carry out the recycling processes.

Understand the recycling stream

The good news is that there are many recycling, pick-up, and drop-off programs that focus on products like plastic bags exclusively, so take advantage of them. There is always a solution, provided that you invest some time in finding it. Furthermore, know that companies that offer waste management and removal can be of great help, especially when you have a large volume of unwanted junk.

In Australia, there are many nationwide networks, but also local services, such as these professionals providing rubbish removal in Sydney.  They satisfy the increasing garbage collection, disposal, and cleanup needs and handle environmental and safety auditing.  This is of great help to families doing renovation projects and one of the main reasons why Australia recycles 51% of all household waste, compared to 42% in the EU and 34% in the United States.

Mind the caveats

We all know that paper is recyclable. Still, note that recycling facilities separate paper based on its grade.  Shredding paper may seem like a good idea, but it turns the paper from high to mixed grade, a category into which magazines fall into. Not all recyclers deal with this type of paper, so check things before you start shredding. Also, the paper that has been turned into confetti can be composted instead of recycled.

Along the similar lines, let us discuss cardboard.

This material itself is recyclable, as indicated on many product labels. Yet, there are some examples like pizza boxes that are an exception to the rule. There is nothing wrong with the cardboard per se. The problem is that the food and grease tend to accumulate on it. Most food containers have the same issue. Therefore, always keep an eye on the food residue.

All of this may seem like a lot to handle, but as technology continues to advance, we are poised to see streamlined recycling processes and practices. Some cities like Houston even plan to pioneer innovative programs that promote all-in-one bins. Indeed, we already have the tools necessary to separate the contents of the container in facilities. But, until such automated tech becomes widespread, you will have to pay attention to what you put and where.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Best intentions do not account for much. The ugly truth is that recycling wrong can be just as bad as not doing it at all. So, do not just throw it when in doubt. Conduct the research and figure out what your local recycling and pick-up programs take on. Take responsibility and sort out your discards.

There are some general rules of thumb to follow and common mistakes to avoid. The investment is a drop in the bucket compared to all the benefits. Done right, recycling benefits everyone, from the local economy to the planet we inhabit. We can all contribute to a smooth recycling stream and mitigate our impact on the environment.


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