Recycling 101 - Get to Know the Facts

By now we have all heard or learned about the basics of recycling. But do you know which items can and cannot be recycled? Wondering what number plastics or color of glass can be recycled? Or what the fifth R is all about? Find answers to these questions and more below. 

Recycling offers many benefits for you and our environment. Some major advantages to recycling include: saving trees and other resources, keeps unnecessary items out of landfills and incinerators, helps protect our air and water by reducing pulloution, and can create jobs. Below you will learn what the 5 R's of recycling are and what items and products are recyclable. 

The 5 R's of Recycling
Reduce: Decrease what you buy and throw away.
Recycle: Tossing or discarding items in the proper bins for recycling. Not thrown in trash/garbage.
Reuse: When done with a product, turn it into something else trying to use items more than once.
Reclaim:  Buy products made from recycled content. (Make a purchase with the highest percentage post-cosumer waste possible. Post consumer waste are materials that have been previously out in the market and are being recycled.  Pre consumer waste are materials used internally by a company.
Rot: Compost

What can be recycled?

Metals - steel and aluminum
Glass - any color
Paper - cardboard (make sure it's clean and free from any grease), magazines, junk mail, paper, newspaper
Plastics -
#1 & #2 - pop bottles, detergent bottles, etc.
#3 - PVC, used in piping.  Rarely recycled curbside (call your local facility)
#4 - used in plastic bags and flexible containers.  Bags should be returned to store collection areas.
#5 - Often not accepted at curbside collections (call your local facility or check list below for more options)
#6 - Polystyrene (styrofoam)  is not cost effective to recycle. Some pilot programs exist (call around or simply pass on buying this).
#7 - Other plastics, most not currently recyclable. 

Tips from our local Waste Management team

  • Recycle empty bottles, cans, paper and cardboard
  • Keep food and liquids out of your recycling receptacle

  • Make sure none of the recyclables are bagged, as plastic bags are not recyclable curbside. Check with local retailers for plastic bag recycling options.

  • Check with your local waste management team to see if they have a Recycle By Mail program, for items like batteries, lightbulbs, and more.

    What to do with non-recyclable items

    Many of your products that are not recyclable through curbside collections are still recyclable; it just takes a little more work.  There are plenty of options for all those non-recyclables.

    Crayola Color Cycle - Takes used markers (any brand) Earth911 - takes many items
    Terracycle - collections based on demand (candy wrappers, chip bags, pens, etc.)
    Whole Foods - Britta water filters and #5 plastic containers
    Nike - Reuse a Shoe Program - turns used athletic shoes into new playground fields and running tracks
    Call your local solid waste agency to discard household waste and electronics.
    Call your local non-emergency police unit and ask about pharmaceutical and medication disposal.

    Don't forget you can also try to donate your items through companies like Good Will, Salvation Army and many local churches. You can also try to sell your items to resale or thrift stores. Or try some of the many new apps to upload and sell items.

    Rot: Learn how to easily compost at home from HGTV here.

    Items needed to start composting at home:
    Compost Bin
    Garden Soil

    If we all do our part we can help make a difference... Do you recycle?