As recycling becomes more streamlined and technological, more questions are arising as to what can and can’t be deposited into recycling containers. Here is the low down on some things you might think are prime candidates for your recycling box, but really belong in the trash.
Many people think styrofoam is recyclable, but really it has no business in recycling containers. Many recycling facilities are unequipped to handle this difficult to process type of plastic. Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene, is a harbinger of contaminants and since most recycling facilities don’t clean items, styrofoam does not make for good recycling. It’s also flammable and difficult to break down, so you should try to avoid using it at all if possible.
- Commercial Pizza Boxes and Food Containers
People have probably thrown their pizza boxes into recycling containers hundreds of times thinking they’re recyclable. Even if the box displays a recycling symbol, chances are high the boxes can’t be recycled because they contain grease, which makes paper products non-recyclable. In fact, many food containers have the same problem. Anything that absorbs grease can’t be recycled, so this includes paper napkins, paper plates and paper towels. The good thing, though, is that these items can be composted!
- Juice Boxes and Milk Cartons
Although these containers are made of paper, many of them have a thin layer of plastic coating that can’t be recycled. Some juice boxes are also lined with aluminum. That’s why most programs don’t accept them and why they don’t belong in recycling containers.
- Plastic Store Bags Filled with Recyclables
If items are manually sorted at a recycling facility, workers can’t open bags to see the contents, so they get trashed. That’s why it’s important to have all recyclables in clear bags. Often, though, stores will accept used bags for recycling.
- Heavily-Dyed Paper
Recycled paper is treated with heat. If the paper is dyed, the dye will run, which can create costly problems for the treatment facility. In fact many paper mills won’t take dyed paper that has been recycled with the exception of toned-down pastels.
- Shredded Paper
Sorting shredded paper from non-recyclables is a difficult task, so most recycling plants don’t do it. It also poses a problem for the machinery in the plant, since it can easily clog up the works. Shredded paper would do better in a compost pile.