Thank you Barbara Hirsch for recycling pearls of wisdom 🙂
You may have noticed curbside and public recycling bins withs lots of unrecyclables in them, and conversely garbage bins with lots of recyclables.
What can be recycled differs everywhere, but here is a simple guide for Californians and others unsure.
There are thousands of workers who work to separate our recycling streams, let’s give them a hand and increase the value of reusable materials by not contaminating them.
The following can not be recycled, they are landfill. These contaminate materials that can be recovered. Hence, it is a NO to:
used tissue and paper towels, paper drinking cups, plastic eating utensils, bits of plastic wrapping, food, liquids, paper plates, takeout food containers, plastic container caps, styrofoam, dishes, drinking glasses, mirrors, lightbulbs, chip bags, candy wrappers, shredded paper, register and atm receipts, compostable plastics, household and automotive containers of liquids, powders, e.g. insecticides, cleaners.
These items generally CAN be recycled:
Beverage containers including plastic cups (should be empty.)
Tetra pak – those rectangular waxy things that hold drinks and soups, and milk cartons
Aluminum and steel cans, solid metals
Office paper and envelopes, newspaper, cardboard
E-waste – all electronics, by drop off or special pickup
Batteries, easier if you place them in a bag.
Plastic bags – bagged together, not individual, due to sorting machines
large plastic items, as valued materials can easily be separated
Textiles should be dropped off at a thrift store or bin.
Safe to say that recycling takes a back seat in public consciousness. So many issues are of greater importance, but overall, resources must be an issue of primary concern – how we humans use the planet, not only how we live with each other! Towards Resource Wisdom is a phrase that moves me.
We can only handle increasing needs of an increasing population if more materials are recovered than currently are, and if we are much more efficient in our use of them. Every product we use requires energy and water besides the other resources needed. For example, recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a 100 watt lightbulb for 4 hours, uses far less water and emits much less pollution, than making one from mined bauxite. Plastic is another version of oil, and most of it is not recycled.
A glimpse at the state of recycling:
In the U.S. in 2013 about a third of all MSW (municipal solid waste) was recovered/recycled.
34% of glass bottles, 14% of all plastic packaging, including 30% of plastic bottles, 55% of beer and soda cans, 67% of papers of all kinds. Of the waste that is generated, 44% of it is packaging!
In California, AB 341 will require us to recover 75% of all MSW five years from now, we are currently at half. This will mean getting us down to less than 2.7 lbs of garbage per person per day. Source reduction will be a key method of achieving this. The more we have, the more we toss! And for business, extended producer responsibility makes both economic and environmental sense.
Cheers to that other 3 Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, which supposedly came from our Earth Day 45 years ago!
Past ecofacts can be found at santabarbaraview.com, using search: ecofacts.