Recycling: Back to the basics!

Recycling correctly is more important now than ever! Due to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, recycling supply chains are now more dependent on our recyclables. As recycling from commercial businesses like restaurants and offices decreased or disappeared in some cases during quarantine, residential recycling increased, serving as an important supply for recyclable commodities.

Manufacturers rely on used cardboard and paper to make shipping cartons and food packaging, as well as tissue products like toilet paper. Aluminum beverage cans are needed to create new cans and plastic, steel, and glass are essential in making many additional products, including hospital beds, ventilators, and other critical supplies.

While some of us have slowly begun to reenter the workplace and venture out, during our time at home, we are creating more trash, in some areas as much as 30% more than normal. We also rely more on non-recyclable, single-use products to stay safe. With more products used around the house, it can be easy to start “wishcycling” and put items we “wish” could be recycled into our bins.

But these contaminating items can ruin an entire load of recyclables –– whether they are dirty recyclables or non-recyclables. For example, a half-full plastic bottle can destroy a lot of recyclable paper. And of course, some items, such as diapers, masks, plastic gloves, wipes, tissues, or paper towels, can introduce bacteria or even the coronavirus into the recyclable load, putting workers who sort recycling at a high risk. The facilities that process the recyclables from your curbside cart can only process the materials on your locally accepted recyclables list. They cannot process other materials!

So let’s all go “back to the basics” of what is accepted for recycling in your container and what is not. Please check with your local solid waste authority for the most up to date list of what is and is not accepted in your community.

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