We’ve been recycling as a society ever since we were born, and yet there are still a lot of people out there who either fail to do their part by tossing all materials straight into the trash, or by ignoring certain recycling rules that are critical for our planet, not to mention helpful to those who actually sort the materials that we throw into the recycling bin.
Here are just some of the most common mistakes that people make when recycling, so that you can continue on in 2022 doing things the right way.
Recycling Mistake #1: Recycling Materials Covered in Food
A lot of people have a habit of tossing glass jars, aluminum cans and plastic containers into the recycling without actually cleaning them first. If those items are covered in food debris, they can be considered contaminated, and be unable to be repurposed, defeating the purpose of recycling them in the first place and making them unusable. So, put a little time into cleaning each material next time. It doesn’t need to be absolutely squeaky clean, but it shouldn’t be dirty.
Recycling Mistake #2: Using Plastic Bags to Gather Your Recyclables
An easy way to gather a large amount of recyclables at once is to throw them all into a plastic bag. We commonly see this after someone hosts a gathering, where there are lots of empty bottles and cans that need to be collected and tossed into the recycling bin. But, plastic bags cannot be recycled, unlike the contents inside, and what you’re doing is making it highly likely that your recyclables will end up in a landfill.
Recycling Mistake #3: Recycling Batteries
It’s all too easy to toss those dead batteries into the recycling bin, but the bottom line is that this is a mistake. Batteries, including dead ones, are considered a hazardous universal waste, because they can cause destruction. They can cause major fires, which could be serious enough to burn down an entire recycling plant. If you have dead batteries, it’s best to bring them to your local recycling center separately, where the staff can follow the specific protocol for dealing with them.
Recycling Mistake #4: Ignoring Your Town’s Guidance on Recycling
Each municipality has its own rules on recycling, and a specific list of what can and cannot go into the recycling. They tend to be quite specific about seasonal items like garden hoses and other items that get used and disposed of a lot during specific times of year. Go your municipality’s website to see a comprehensive list of what can and cannot be recycled, because you may be surprised by how many items you’ve been tossing in the bin that have made workers’ lives a lot harder since they must be sorted out and disposed of separately.
Recycling Mistake #5: Recycling Soft Plastics
You want to avoid recycling soft plastics, like cellophane wrap and soft plastic bags that food is sold in. These materials notoriously clog up and get tangled in the commonly used machines found in recycling plants, which can be a real problem. These materials are, in fact, meant to be disposed of in your regular trash.