Garbage Goat's Blog
Resolve to Recycle Right
We all play a role in creating a more sustainable future, and that includes properly handling our recyclable waste. This new year, make the resolution to recycle right.
Contamination is one of the biggest problems facing the recycling industry. Many people put non-recyclable materials in their blue recycling bins, either from lack of knowledge or because of "wish recycling"—a term referring to when non-recyclable items are put in a recycling bin because the individual hopes it is recyclable. Contamination requires more labor to sort the recyclable from the non-recyclable materials, and it costs more to the user as items like plastic bags and rope tangle the expensive sorting machines, forcing them to be turned off frequently and repaired.
To recycle right, focus on the basics. Make sure your recyclables are always empty, clean, and dry. Pay attention to what is accepted in your recycling bin by checking with your recycling service provider. In Spokane County, visit www.spokanecounty.org/2027/Recycling for a full list of what is accepted. When in doubt, throw it out—don’t recycle something unless you’re sure it’s accepted by your provider.
Recycling During the Holidays
The rules of recycling can be confusing, and it might seem overwhelming to figure out what is recyclable and what’s not. The season’s celebrations and gift-giving can create excess waste, and finding the best way to deal with the surplus trash is even more important. Follow these guidelines to help you navigate through the season’s festivities without filling up your trash can.
When sorting your recyclable materials, look for the basics: cardboard, non-coated paper, plastic bottles and containers, glass bottles and jars, metal cans, and no lids. Make sure items are only made of one material—a shiny paper cup cannot be recycled because it is made of both paper and plastic. If you’re shopping for wrapping paper or holiday greeting cards, look for papers that are not shiny and don’t have foil embellishments, as these are often made of multiple materials.
Anything put in your recycling bin should always be clean, empty, and dry. This prevents contamination of materials that would make them hard to recycle.
Plastic: Yes to Bottles, No to Bags
We all dream of being able to recycle all the plastic that comes through our home, but some plastics, such as bags and plastic wrapping, can damage the equipment that sorts through our recycled materials. When recycling plastics, look for bottles and larger containers, and leave off lids which are often made of a different type of plastic. Thin plastics such as bags, plastic films, and lids, cannot be recycled in your blue bin, but may be dropped off at a grocery store where shopping bags are recycled.
Do’s and Don’ts
Blue recycling bins in Spokane County are eventually sorted at the Waste Management SMaRT center. This facility’s machines can be clogged by materials that are not meant to be recycled, such as plastic bags and string that can get caught in the sorting equipment. Be sure to properly dispose of things like ribbon, twine, and Christmas lights that can tie up costly equipment. Flat items like plastic lids are difficult for the machines to differentiate from paper, and they become contaminants in the final paper product. Leave any non-paper items that are flat out of your blue bin to reduce contamination, and focus on recycling larger plastic items like bottles.
When in doubt, throw it out. If you’re not sure if something is recyclable, throw it away.
The holiday season is a time to relax and celebrate, so don’t let confusing recycling rules bring you down. If you have any questions about what is and isn’t recyclable, you can use the Spokane Waste Directory to figure out how to properly dispose of your waste.
Wa-aa-aste Not, Wa-aa-ant Not!