Have you ever thought how nice it was that items came with those handy recycling symbols? They make it super easy to get the right items in the recycle bin. If only that were true!! Those sneaky symbols lead to a lot of confusion and contamination in the world of recycling. That’s because while most materials can technically be recycled with the right technology, infrastructure, and market, it is possible that your hauler, like many others, may choose not to recycle them or is unable to recycle them for various reasons.
The symbol can be put on any item that can “theoretically” be recycled. But that is the problem that many consumers fall prey to. There are very few marketable recyclables. If a hauler doesn’t have the ability to sell the recyclable item then it will not be something that they accept and is considered contamination. That contamination can put a whole neighborhood’s recyclables at risk. Markets are getting fewer and fewer ever since China (historically the largest importer of recyclables in the world) has tightened their restrictions. Another reason the item might not be accepted is that the hauler may not have the right equipment to process the material.
The symbol can be misleading as it is making you think that an item can be recycled. But did you know that the numbers can be misleading as well? Just because your area can recycle some #1 plastics does not mean they can recycle all of them, and the same goes for all the other numbers! The easiest way to be a great recycler is to know the basics that are accepted in your area. If you are not sure, then check the list of recyclables with your hauler or click here to review your recyclables.