The U.S. leads the world in plastic waste. With so many recyclable materials already ending up in landfills, incorrectly recycled items can impact the fate of the small percentage of waste that is recycled.
According to David Biderman, 10-15% of all waste sent to recycling centers in the U.S. isn’t actually recyclable. Correctly separating recycling can prevent some of this waste and make sure all recyclables meet their proper fate.
Every plastic recyclable will be stamped with a little triangle emblem and a number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7, which indicates the type of plastic it’s made from, and ultimately how difficult it is to recycle.
Glass is very easy to recycle, which means most municipalities will accept common glass containers.
Tin and aluminum cans from vegetables, fruit, soup, paint (if fully cleaned) and pet food are a safe bet for the metals bin.
Some cities require cardboard to be broken down to specific dimensions and bound with twine. Regardless, these items will generally always be accepted in curbside recycling.
Some items must be trashed, but by keeping non-recyclables out of recycling bins, we can help ensure that no recycling batches are contaminated and sent to landfills.