I have learned a lot about the do's and don'ts of recycling since becoming a WES Green Club volunteer. Here are some important things to remember when recycling at home, school, or work.
- Check with your local recycler: Different recycling companies accept different materials for recycling. Just because something is "recyclable" doesn't mean that it can be put in the recycling bin. Including items not accepted by CVWMA creates additional work for the sorters and may lead to contamination of the materials they do recycle. Click HERE to see what CVWMA does and does not accept for recycling.
- Don't put your recyclables in garbage bags or plastic bags: Sorting your recyclables and placing them into plastic bags is not necessary. The facility is equipped to do all the sorting. The plastic bags frequently jam up the machines at the recycling facility which are expensive to repair.
- Don't put plastic grocery bags in your recycle bin: Plastic bags are recyclable but are not accepted by CVWMA. As previously mentioned, they jam up the machines at the recycling facility. The bags are also lightweight and can easily fly out of the recycling trucks and become litter. Save your plastic grocery bags and return them to stores like Ukrops and Walmart for recycling. Better yet, purchase some WES Green Club reusable grocery bags.
- Not all #1 and #2 plastics are created equal: CVWMA accepts narrow-necked plastic bottles labeled with a number 1 or number 2 ONLY. This includes many soda and water bottles, milk and juice jugs, and household cleaner bottles. Plastics with other numbers or 1 and 2 plastics that are not bottles (like margarine tubs and other food containers) are not recyclable in this program. They are from the same family of plastics, but the two forms have been slightly modified to achieve different properties for strength, fluidity, crack resistance, etc. Even when the plastic number is the same, the manufacturing processes to create those qualities make the two containers incompatible. Including these incompatible materials in recycle bin contaminates the rest of the batch causing it to be disposed in the landfill.
- Don't leave the tops on your bottles: Plastic bottles are typically made of #1 plastic and the tops are made from #5 plastic. Leaving the caps on the bottles contaminates the rest of the plastic. Too much contamination makes it impossible to sell the recycled plastic to bottle manufacturers. The recycling company has no choice but to throw the contaminated plastic into the landfill. If you want to recycle your #5 bottle tops, you can send them to your local Aveda salon for recycling.
- Don't include juice or milk cartons: CVWMA use to accept these cartons for recycling. They no longer accept the cartons any more because there isn't a local market for recycled plastic coated paper. The WES Green Club participates in a carton recycling program with MilkMuny. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in participating.
UPDATE (12/17/09) - For the longest time, I have been including frozen food dinner boxes (like Lean Cuisine) in my recycling bin. I recently contacted CVWMA and they informed me that these bins should not be included in the recycling bin because they are waxed coated.