Happy Holidays y'all!
I want to say thank you for your patience with me on getting this blog out. After the majority response for a blog post on recycling tips, I am so grateful for the opportunity to share this easy Do’s and Don’t’s list!
I recently became a volunteer Zero Waste Block Leader for the City of Austin. With this position I have TONS of information and contacts, so please do not hesitate to reach out with your reduce/reuse/recycle questions! I complied some frequently asked questions into this (hopefully) easy to understand blog post. I have listed some general rules first and then go into detail further down. At the end of the post I have shared a few helpful links to check out.
Mind the words in CAPS, as they are especially important!
General Rules for Recycling
- Paper products with food waste are NOT RECYCLABLE.
- Plastic or Aluminum containers with food waste CAN BE RECYCLED and only need to be about 80% clean to go in the bin.
- The recycling center that picks up your recycling determines what goes in the bin, NOT what a container label says.
- Two or more materials fused together are generally NOT RECYCLABLE in a single stream recycling cart.
- Any plastic that has a stretch to it is NOT RECYCLABLE.
- Hard, rigid plastics CAN BE RECYCLED.
- Broken glass is NOT RECYCLABLE.
Paper products with food waste: Pizza Boxes, Paper Towels, Paper Plates…
DO NOT RECYCLE. The oils from food soak into the cardboard or paper, and that single pizza box or paper towel can ruin an entire batch of paper recycling. However, any paper products that have food waste on them can be composted in any commercial facility (if you have a backyard composter they will compost but it takes much longer). This is one of the most important mistakes to correct as paper gets sorted through a machine and does not make it to the hand sorters. So please, KEEP THESE OUT OF YOUR RECYCLING BIN!
Plastic or Aluminum containers with food waste: Sauce cans, butter tubs, peanut butter jars…
RECYCLE. These items only need to be about 80% clean to go into your bin. The recycling process for plastics and metals is different from paper and so the food waste burns out and does not contaminate the batch. So please, RECYCLE!
Heed the Recycling Center Guidelines over package labeling…
The recycling companies resell the recycled materials to other companies, so if they do not have a customer need for a material, they may not collect it in their single stream recycling bins even if a product shows it can be recycled. If you know what your service provider collects, you can recycle accordingly.
Two or more materials fused together: Tetra packs, chip bags...
DO NOT RECYCLE. Although Aluminum and paper are both recyclable, if the two are fused together, like some chip bags, they are not recyclable. This is a general rule to follow if you are unsure if a material can be recycled.
Plastics with a stretch to them: Straws, baggies, bags...
DO NOT RECYCLE. This type of plastic has already been recycled multiple times or is too thin to undergo the recycling process. It is kind of like the last use for a plastic.
Hard, rigid plastics: hangers, toys, laundry baskets...
RECYCLE. These plastics may not have a recycling symbol on them, however they are recyclable.
DO NOT RECYCLE. The reason for this is simple… in any single stream recycling center (all recycling is picked up in one cart) items go through hand sorting. Shards of glass can be harmful to the employee sorting. Ouch.
The goal with learning to recycle correctly is about progress not perfection. If you make a mistake, it is ok! Try and learn from it. Most companies do hand sort recycling, these tips are common courtesies and will ensure that your recycling will continue to be picked up.
Below is a link to the Austin Resource Recovery website where you can find a wealth of services the City of Austin Provides to make reducing waste easier. I also shared a link to some helpful information on the positive impact of recycling along with a few other tips.
I hope this is helpful! Again, if you have any questions regarding what I shared about or something I did not include, please feel free to reach out to me! I would love helping you find a solution to your reduce/reuse/recycling problem. And don't forget to follow me on Instagram for more tips and tricks on reducing waste!