The area I live in has just a few curbside recycling rules. They don’t seem to be too well known, so I will share them with you. There are also ways to be more courteous to your recycling plant; I will share those ideas with you as well.
1. Separate plastics/glass/aluminum from cardboard/paper. WIthin city limits, blue bag vouchers are provided to us. These bags are for glass, plastics #1 and #2, (more on that in item #3), and aluminum or tin cans.
2. To recycle cardboard and paper, use a paper grocery sack or a box. The box cannot be too big or too heavy, though.
3. Pay attention to the type of plastic your area takes. In my area, they only recycle plastics #1 and #2. All recyclable plastic has a number on the bottom inside of the recycling symbol. Water and soda/beverage bottles, plastic gallon jugs, etc. have always been #1 or #2 in my experience.
4. Lids tend not to be labeled for recycling. I always remove lids for plastic beverage bottles or lids to other plastic containers (e.g. plastic peanut butter container, plastic salad dressing bottle.) HOWEVER, check it out for bigger lids. I’ve experienced a brand of yogurt containers where the container was plastic #5 and could not be recycled in my area, but the LID was plastic #2 and could be.
5. Clean your containers. This can be obnoxious for a few items (sticky peanut butter!) but it is important. Many containers, I have found, just need to be rinsed a couple of times with the spray nozzle on the sink. After that, we place them upside down on the sink for a few hours or overnight to drain some of the water. (Note: this is also an important step if you struggle with bugs or rodents.)
6. Remove paper labels. Honestly, I do this to the best of my ability*. On plastic beverage bottles, it is easy to crunch the bottle a little bit and the paper, which is only stuck in one small section, can be snipped off with scissors and easily ripped off where it has been glued. Why is this important? You are, again, separating your paper from your plastic. You do it for everything else, after all! (*If the label is a sticker and difficult to remove, I don’t spend too much of my day trying to remove the sticker. I try – check out if it WILL come right off, because some do! – and remove what I can. If you are super interested, the Magic Eraser will remove labels from glass pretty nicely.)
7. Certain cardboard/paper items should not be recycled due to saturation of oil or food. Prime candidate: Pizza boxes from delivery. I read you should not recycle these.
8. Be careful with paper. I always cut or rip my name or other information off of paper before I recycle it. I shred the parts with my information. (More about that in #9) Magazines are great for this, because your address is small and the rest of the magazine can be recycled. If it is something like a credit card offer, I shred the whole thing because there are “Invitation codes” all over that paper and I worry about those things.
9. Some areas do not accept shredded paper. Check it out before you try. You can always compost it if you’re into that sort of thing.
10. Crunch everything up! My area recommends you step on your plastic containers so more will fit in the blue bag. Cardboard boxes, like a box of cereal, can often be easily opened at both ends (the top is open anyway!) and flattened.
***Many things cannot be recycled curbside but are still recyclable. My favorite example is the plastic grocery sack. We occasionally make a trip with these because we reuse them for small garbage can liners. But if there’s a hole in one or we get too many, there is a big drum for recycling these sacks inside of many grocery stores, Targets, and Wal-marts right when you walk in to get a cart! Keep your eyes open.
Finally, a note about printer paper: I keep a manilla folder full of paper to be recycled – names and staples removed – and take to the local library where there are blue tubs specifically for recycling printer paper. I don’t know what they do with it, but it works.
Go forth and recycle responsibly! Were any of these new information to you?