One of the main reasons that perfectly recyclable items end up in the landfill, is because of contamination. It’s estimated that 25% of all items sent to recycling facilities are contaminated and have to be sent to landfills. There are several easy ways that you can cut down on the recycling contamination from your recyclables, here are 5 ways to reduce your recycling contamination!
Know what Twin Enviro Accepts and Doesn’t
The best way to prevent recycling contamination is to follow the local rules for your specific recycling service. At Twin Enviro we’ve made you a handy page that tells you all of the items that we accept, and the ones that can’t go into your recycling bin! Check it out here (and bookmark the page!) so that next time you wonder, “Can I recycle this?” you have it for reference!
Rinse All Items That Were in Contact with Food—Yes, Even Drink Containers!
Food contamination is a huge issue when it comes to recycling. One dirty container that oozes or molds will affect the recyclables around it, contaminating them too. Which means the other items that were fine to recycle, now need to be thrown away. Unclean recyclables can also attract vermin, which can turn into a major problem for recycling facilities.
What about the water wasted? One great suggestion is to wash your items with the leftover water from doing dishes! You don’t have to use soap and scrub them clean, just a simple rinse will remove most of the problematic food residue. If there’s stuck-on food, scrape it out!. So please always do a quick rinse out all your food containers to make sure they can be properly recycled at our facility.
Please also remember to rinse your soda cans, beer cans, and any other items that contained anything other than water. Unwashed beverage containers can attract fruit flies and other pests and cause your recycling bin (and our facility!) to stink. So please remember to rinse before recycling!
If It’s Too Hard to Clean—Throw It Out
I’m sure you’ve had that bottle of vegetable oil, a weird shaped bottle or a sticky hard to clean substance and wondered, “should I spend 10 minutes cleaning this to recycle it?” If it can’t be quickly cleaned by a rinse and a light scrapping, yes, it might be better to throw it out. Washing a hard to clean bottle will take a lot of water, and that will diminish the benefits of recycling the item. If you throw that uncleaned bottle into the recycling it can also contaminate the other recyclables, like paper products, making them unrecyclable. So if you can’t wash it, just throw it away!
Don’t Recycle Grease Stained, Wax Coated, or Wet Paper Products
Can I recycle this greasy pizza box? NO! What about wax coated paper, it’s paper, right? NO! The reason we can’t recycle these items is because they are no longer a pure raw material, they will have other contaminants (like oil, grease, wax, etc) that prevents them from being recycled into a raw material for reuse. Now, if only part of the pizza box is greasy, you can always just tear it up and put the greasy part in the trash and the non-contaminated part into the recycling. This is why it’s important to inspect any paper items you throw into your recycling to make sure they are safe to recycle. What about wet paper products? We can’t take those either, and that’s because of contamination. We don’t know what liquid got the paper wet, and once it’s wet it becomes difficult for our machines to process. So please just throw out any wet paper products.
Leave It Loose—No Trash Bag
It’s often easier to keep your recycling in a trash bag lined container or to carry it to your recycling bin in a trash bag. But if you leave it in that bag it can’t be recycled. So we suggest that you either dump that bag out into your recycling bin and reuse the bag for the next batch of recycling. Or you can buy a tote or portable recycling container that you can more easily carry to your curbside recycling. But don’t leave it in a bag, or we have to throw it out!