Are you making these common recycling mistakes? Here are 9 things that are often improperly recycled, adding costs to processing and polluting systems designed to minimize landfill.
Check out the list below and see if you're doing it right.
1. Paper plates
Once used, the paper plates become contaminated with food, which in turn contaminates the recycling process and should NOT go to your recycling bin. Don't be too quick to dump them in the landfill, though, as many councils in Australia accept them in organic containers and compost them commercially. Items like pizza boxes, paper towels, and tissues also fall into this category! If you can, avoiding single-use items is even better than recycling and composting, so cut out the best (or worst) dinner sets you have and start using them instead.
2. CD and DVD
People always ask me what to do with CDs and DVDs and to put it simply, they CANNOT go to their recycle bin. If they are still functional, consider donating them to family or friends, donating them to your local shop shop, or even deterring birds around the garden.
However, you CAN recycle your old movie and music CDs through most electronic waste programs that specialize in electronic items of all kinds, including old video cassettes, computers, cables, and more.
3. Broken glass and dishes
It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered that broken glasses, plates, and cups could NOT be included in general recycling and should actually be placed in a landfill. This can be disappointing if you're aiming for zero waste, so you may need to get creative. See if local artists can use your broken wares, or even try a little mosaic project to make your favorite cup of coffee last forever. Broken crockery can be really useful as a false drain for potted plants, just place it in the bottom of the pot and cover it with soil before adding your plants.
4. Bubble wrap
Just a big NO. Soft plastics are of no use, especially for sorters at recycling sites. This should never go into your bin BUT it can be reused, donated or picked up at your local Recycling Center and used on street benches and other useful items. Did you know that shredded paper is effective at protecting delicate items? If possible, opt for recyclable packaging materials and check store policies before ordering online.
5. Cups of coffee
Disposable coffee cups are one of the most common items to put in recycling bins (Confession: I used to do this!). 99% of them CANNOT be recycled and should go to a landfill, although they can be plastic.
Try having a coffee at the store, have a cup to keep, or for the budget conscious, grab your cup or jar of jam to avoid them all together.
6. Straws, bottle caps and bread labels
A small part of the world hates straws right now, but I know there are still a lot of people who use and recycle them VERY WELL. Any small plastic counts as contamination in the recycling process and this includes straws, bottle caps, bread labels, and other small things that get added to a pile of plastic. These can be recycled BUT must be placed in larger plastic containers. Try keeping an empty milk jug or take out container on your bank to collect these little gremlins and once full, put the lid back on and pop in the recycle bin.
7. Baking paper
This is interesting, and many people think it is recyclable, but they would be wrong! In fact, it is coated with wax and cannot go to the recycling or green organic matter bin. If you must use it, make sure you go to the landfill. I doubly dare you to try junk cooking and see if you can do it without it.
8. Packaging lined with aluminum foil
Some of my favorite products come in foil lined bags and NOPE cannot be recycled at all as the packaging is a combination of plastic and foil.
This includes blocks of butter, nuts, snacks, coffee beans, and many other items. Opt for better packaging if you can, or head to a bulk store to shop nude.
9. Disposable cutlery
They sound great, made from 70% recyclable plastic and the rest from natural plant materials. I felt greener just looking at them until I found out that they are NOT fully recyclable. Plant-based cutlery can be composted, plastic cutlery can be recycled in most places, but not this devil in sheepskin. Fun fact, did you know that good quality disposable silverware can survive many rounds in a dishwasher?
Hope this makes it easier to get it right, and avoid these common recycling pitfalls.
Did you know all this? Certainly some of you did!
Original article (in English)