Recycling 101: 5 Important Points

People have been tending to get much better about recycling over the years. Only 10% of Americans claim they “never recycle,” which is up from 25% in 2007. But it’s still common not to know all the facts about recycling, especially considering how some regulations have changed over the years and uncommon items that are recyclable. Here’s what you need to know.


  • Most Plastics are Recyclable


Many of us growing up assumed that only plastic drink containers could be recycled, but in fact, the grand majority of plastic — from the plastic wraps for food to the bottles used for your laundry detergent — can often be recycled. How to check? Plastic labeled with a “1” or “2” is accepted by most recycling plants.


  • Recycling is Better for the Environment


You may have heard conflicting facts about this, but overall, recycling is better for the environment than just throwing things out. Producing virgin metal, for example, takes a ton of energy. The metal must be mined (which often leads to water contamination), then processed, then sent to a factory to be turned into a product. Recycling does use energy, but far less of it. Recycled steel requires 75% less energy to produce than virgin steel, and recycling an aluminum can saves the equivalent of a half gallon of gasoline!


  • Your Recyclables Don’t Need to Be Sterile


You should give your items a quick rinse and not leave glass containers coated with peanut butter, but in general, not being able to get out that last bit of corn doesn’t make your recycling worthless. Recycling plants use machinery to eliminate any possible contaminants anyway.


  • Do I Need to Keep the Lids On or Off?


Technically, lids can be recycled, so that isn’t the issue. The problem is when lids and caps become separated from their original container, ending up, for example, in sorted paper recycling. They can also get stuck in the gears of conveyor belts used to process recyclables.


  • Some Recycling No-Nos Might Surprise You


Certain items you would think are recyclable, aren’t. Paper coffee cups are one example — in order to keep water in, the inside of these cups have been coated, usually with a thin layer of plastic or similar materials. You can still recycle the sleeve, though! Other materials, while they can technically be recycled, often aren’t in communities without enough demand. This typically includes plastic clamshell containers and styrofoam. The best plan of action if you’re not sure is to consult your local recycling center to see what they accept.

Recycling isn’t hard, once you get used to it, and you can make some extra cash while helping preserve the environment. To find out more about what you can and can’t recycle, contact us today or call us at (508) 668-9668. You can also stop by our recycling center in Walpole, MA.