Recyclable Materials That Don't Go in the Recycling
Recycling is a key component of sustainability that allows you to do your part for the environment. It's also a great way to help green companies make more products or services that you like to use. However, not all recyclable materials should go in your standard recycling bins. You'll find a few examples of things that you can recycle in other ways below.
This category really applies to any durable material that you can tie into a knot. If it meets these basic criteria, don't recycle it. These types of things are what the industry calls "tanglers." There's a good chance cords will get caught in the recycling machinery and shut down operations while workers get them out. Power cords, in particular, are made entirely of recyclable material, but the outer coating and the metal wire inside cannot be recycled at the same time. The best option is to contact businesses that offer services that will take your complete cords and recycle them properly.
It's a bad idea to recycle most liquids the traditional way. Even safe liquids such as juices and milk might contain a mixture of hazardous chemicals or things that might ignite under the right conditions during processing. If you’re looking to recycle a container such as milk jugs, juice cartons, bottles, and other common carriers, it’s important that you rinse out all of the previous liquid before recycling, otherwise, it has to be sorted out and thrown away as contaminated. For more hazardous liquids, such as gasoline or acids, search online to find local community and government programs that handle the safe disposal of these liquids.
Wrappers for chips, candy, and other food items that are sealed usually aren't recyclable. The reason for this is that the bags use several layers of different materials, and we don't yet have the technology to separate and recycle all of them. For now, these should go in the trash along with the other non-recyclables. Even if something is labeled as being made of recycled materials, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can be recycled again due to this method of layering materials. When in doubt, call the manufacturer or speak to your recycling service for more information.
Large chunks of food make recycling bins and equipment prone to contamination by bacteria and dirty in general. These issues can compound further and make it harder for equipment to recycle everything else. Most recycling services such as Green Bins list explicitly in their accepted materials that they do not accept food waste. You shouldn't recycle large bits of household food. However, this doesn't mean you can't recycle packaging that has some minor food residue still on it. No one expects food packaging to be completely free of leftover residue. We recommend that you compost any larger quantities of food waste.
The act of recycling can be a multi-part process depending on the materials in question. People working in this industry work hard to process large amounts of recyclable material every day. We can make things easier for them by being aware of what they can and cannot use so that they aren’t forced to halt operations repeatedly for otherwise avoidable sorting of unusable materials. Make sure to do your research and be aware of what your recycling service does and doesn’t take so that you aren’t forcing them to take something that will end up in the landfill anyway.