Recycling Etiquette [ARTICLE]

Author: Monique Webb, EnviroPerks

Etiquette is defined by Merriam-Webster as the rules indicating the proper and polite way to behave, so surely there has to recycling etiquette and we have all the Do’s and Don’ts listed here just for you! The following will help you to better prepare your items for recycling to ensure that none of your recyclables end up in the waste stream.

Do Recycle

Below is a list of the items you can recycle, and how to prepare them for recycling.

  • Rinse aluminum cans, glass bottles, jars and containers for recycling.
  • Remove stray items from cans, bottles and containers.
  • Place newspapers, magazines and catalogs in a tied bundle or in paper grocery bags.
  • Remove food and wash containers.
  • Remove paper clips and staples from paper.
  • Remove tape and labeling from cardboard packaging.
  • Tear out contaminated areas of pizza boxes and recycle the clean parts only.

Do Recycle

Do Not Recycle

Below is a list of the items you cannot recycle, and why.

  • Tissues, paper towels and paper napkins; these are inherently contaminated items.
  • Wet paper or wet cardboard. These will clog recycling machines and contaminate other cardboard being recycled.
  • Food wrappers as they are usually contaminated with food such as chocolate or grease.
  • Plastic shopping bags. These may usually be returned to the grocery store and go through an entirely different recycling process.
  • Frozen food plates, deli trays or take out food containers; it is usually difficult to remove food from the contaminated material are not recyclable.
  • Bottle Tops because they are made from a different plastic from bottles and the chemical compounds in that type of plastic make it non-recyclable.
  • Yard waste such as tree trimmings and grass cuttings.
  • Never recycle any food contaminated items such as paper cups, paper plates and pizza boxes.
  • Medical waste should not be placed in recycling bins. Medical waste is considered household hazardous waste and must be disposed of properly.
  • Do not place recyclables into plastic grocery bags because plastic bags are not recyclable.

More Helpful Tips

  • Recycle electronics and E-Waste items such as cell phones which are toxic at an E-Waste recycling center not with your household recyclables.
  • The most important thing to remember is to remove plastic caps and lids from plastic containers.
  • Remove straws from plastic bottles as well.
  • Plastic bags are recyclable, however, they are processed separately and should be returned to grocery stores that have special bins for clean plastic bags.
  • If a recycling container is full, do not place your recyclables on the ground, wait until the bin is emptied.
  • Do not recycle toxic containers in your household recycling bins such as paint cans, motor oil jugs, antifreeze jugs, pesticide containers, other household cleaning bottles as labeled. These must be disposed of using hazardous waste procedures. Additionally, tires may also be recycled at your local hazardous waste drop off center.

Be sure to check your local requirements for more detailed recycling practices in your city.