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Why is Recycling Important?

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Why is recycling important?

What exactly can I recycle?

When items are recycled less energy is used and more raw materials are saved.

In this article we will uncover the following:

  • What is recycling?

  • What happens if we don’t recycle?

  • Should I clean my recyclables?

  • What can be recycled?

  • What should not be recycled?

What is Recycling?

Recycling is the process of reusing materials that would be thrown away and turning them into new products. Recycling has become more important than ever. With global warming and climate change rapidly effecting our quality of life, individuals should be more concerned about how they interact with their environment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines recycling as the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products.

What % of plastic gets recycled? (answer at end of article)

  • 9%

  • 25%

  • 40%

  • 52%

What Happens if We Don't Recycle?

Without recycling, waste accumulates and sits to decompose in a landfill instead of being reused. Landfills are facilities for the disposal of solid waste. Landfills are typically 600 acres and are designed to keep our environments from contaminates and waste build up. Landfills are important to society. However, reducing what is sent to a landfill helps the following:

· save landfill space

· save energy

· reduces greenhouse gas emissions

· reduce cost of materials

· preserves nature

· prevents pollution

· reduces raw material production

Should I Clean My Recyclables?

The main barrier to recycling is understanding the process. Many individuals do not know how to recycle correctly, so their resourceful action goes to waste, literally. Items that are not clean can contaminate a recycle batch and send all the batched items to a landfill. Each city has their own recycling rules and regulations. To be most efficient in your city, research recycling instructions on your city’s website. The following is a list to help improve your recycling efforts at home or in the community.

Free Recycling & Composting Instructions

1. Plastic Bottles & Containers

Make sure the container is rinsed, cleaned, and emptied. Lids can stay on the container.

2. Food, Beverage, and Aerosol Cans

Empty tin, aluminum, and steel cans can be recycled. Rinse the cans out and dry. If the aerosol can has a plastic lid, remove it.

3. Paper

Paper, newspaper, and magazines are primed for recycling. If the paper becomes wet, you can not recycle it, instead compost it.

4. Cardboard & Paperboard

Make sure you flatten and clean these items.

5. Food & Beverage Containers

Most curbside programs accept recycling milk cartons, juice boxes, and food cartons. Policies vary by city, county, and state. Check local recycling programs for options to recycle cartons. Golden rule: if raw meat was on it, throw it in the trash. Always make sure containers are rinsed, cleaned, and empty.

6. Glass Bottles & Containers

Most curbside programs accept different glass colors and types. Policies for glass vary by city, county, and state. Check local program guidelines for options to recycle glass Always make sure containers are rinsed, cleaned, and empty.

1. Bagged Recyclables

Do not group recyclables together in a bag. Place each item in bin separately.

2. Plastic Bags, Wrap, and Film

These can damage equipment and lead to injuries. Check your local grocery store for plastic bag recycling. Reuse when possible.

3. No Flexible Packaging

Flexible packaging is made with different types of materials (ex. plastic, paper, aluminum) preventing it from being recycled.

4. No Products with Wax or Plastic Coatings

Wax and plastic coatings contain toxic material not suitable for recycling. Do not recycle the lid either. Alternative: reusable cups, glass, and bottles.

5. No Polystyrene Foam (Styrofoam) & Plastic “To-go”

Styrofoam and to-go containers are made on non-recyclable materials.

6. Wax and Gloss Paper

Wax and gloss paper are made on non-recyclable material.

7. No Broken Glass

Broken glass can damage equipment and injure workers.

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