What You Need to Know About Recycling
For years, Americans have been placing their mixed-use recyclables in their bins thinking that we are doing our part to help the environment. Unbeknownst to most, our recycling was being sold to China. Unfortunately, due to restrictions that China has placed on incoming materials in 2018, much of what we are putting into our recycling bins is actually ending up in our landfills.
For background, up until two years ago China was buying and processing 70% of the United States recyclables. However, since they have banned imports of certain paper and plastics and cracked down on contamination, such as food scraps, that number has had to change drastically.
Americans have been spoiled with our recycling program, we’ve been able to throw almost everything in the bin with little regard to what is allowable. But, it is never too late to learn what is acceptable.
- DO: Continue recycling aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cardboard and paper. Be sure to only place clean and dry items in your recycling bins. Also, do your research and see what exactly your recycling center accepts. For example, glass jars are only acceptable in certain areas.
- DON’T: put items that are not recyclable into your bin. Plastic bags, plastic utensils, straws, coffee cups and juice boxes are not recyclable. The former items can damage the machinery, and the latter are made of composite materials that are not recyclable.
- DO: Check the numbers on the bottom of all of your plastic bottles. Every plastic bottle is labeled with a number 1-7. Some recycling centers have begun limiting the numbers that they are accepting, mainly 3-7.
- DON’T: put the following items in the recycling bin – garden hoses, needles, broken glass or propane tanks. According to the EPA, these items are never recyclable.
While all of the above information is an effective way to recycle your materials, it is important to remember that recycling alone will not solve our world’s waste problem and the best way to support our environment is to consume only what we need and to re-purpose and reuse where we can.