Recycling Clean

Keeping Your Recycling Clean

We’ve all had the internal debate about whether an item goes into the recycling bin or the trash can. As good citizens of planet earth, we often include the article with our recycling in hopes that it can be recycled; we call this wish-cycling. However, when we recycle the wrong things, we can contaminate an entire batch of recycling, keeping our clean recyclables from being successfully processed each week. Here are a few rules to follow that will keep your recycling clean and keep free from the most common contaminants.

No Food Remnants

While containers do not need to be pristine to be recycled, food remnants on one item can cause an entire load of easily recyclable items to be contaminated and end up in a landfill.  When paper and cardboard are recycled, they are mixed with water and heated to form a “slurry,” which allows the fibers to break down. However, the oils from food waste keep this process from working. So, make sure to get rid of all visible food residue in recyclable containers, they don’t need to be scrubbed, but they should always be rinsed before recycled.

No Plastic Grocery Bags/Films or Garbage Bags

Most flimsy plastics like grocery bags, bubble wrap, bin liners, and plastic wrap cannot be included in curbside recycling. These items can get caught in the recycling facility machinery, which is costly to fix and slows down the recycling process.  However, in many cities and towns in Massachusetts, there are collection points at retail locations for clean and dry grocery bags and plastic films.  Find a Drop Off Location

NO Batteries

Batteries do not belong in curbside recycling. Most batteries contain toxic chemicals like lead, lithium, or sulfuric acid. When batteries are not disposed of properly, they can leak, contaminating the recycling and possibly injuring a worker. However, when old batteries end up in the landfill, they can cause groundwater pollution, so it is essential to dispose of them properly. The easiest way to get rid of unwanted batteries is to find a collection site at Lowes, Home Depot, or Staples. You can also contact a battery recycling service like Call2Recycle and schedule a time for a battery pick-up. Find a Drop Off Location

NO Propane Tanks

Propane tanks should never be put in the recycling bin because they are hazardous to workers and neighbors. Even a small amount of gas left in the tank can explode when compressed. The best way to dispose of unwanted propane tanks is to return them to the store where they were purchased. If that isn’t an option, tanks can be dropped off at your local hazardous waste collection site.

We all want to do our part to protect our environment; recycling is a critical element in the fight against global warming. However, as much as we want everything to be recyclable, many things are not. So, let’s make sure we continue to recycle every common recyclable like glass, cans, plastic bottles, and clean cardboard while disposing properly of things that cannot be recycled. If you find yourself having that internal debate about a questionable item, avoid contamination and toss it in the trash rather than the recycling bin.