5 Recycling Best Practices

January 16, 2024

According to a new survey by Forbes, 62% of respondents said they feel pressured to set a New Year’s resolution. Choosing and sticking to a resolution goal can be challenging, but if executed successfully, the results are so gratifying! If you’re still stumped on choosing a goal for 2024, we suggest doing something good for the Earth, like learning to practice cleaner recycling habits to ensure reusable materials don’t end up in landfills.


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Clean & Dry Clean & Dry


Clean and dry your plastic and glass bottles, jugs, jars, and tubs! This ensures your items can be successfully recycled instead of ending up in a landfill. According to EarthDay.org, food waste contaminates about 25% of recycling loads collected in the United States, sending once perfectly recyclable items to live forever in landfills.


Did you know that plastic bags are the number-one contaminant in recycling? It’s true! Though uncontaminated plastic grocery and garbage bags CAN be recycled, you should never put them out with your curbside bins or use them to bag up your recyclables for collection.  Plastic bags are notorious for tangling up in sorting machines, causing equipment shutdowns. However, you don’t need to send those plastic bags on a one-way trip to the landfill. Consider collecting and bringing your plastic bags to a local drop-off center that recycles such materials.

Flatten Cardboard Flatten Cardboard


When recycling cardboard, make sure to break down and flatten boxes to save space and allow for more recycling to be picked up at one time…meaning fewer pick-up trips and, therefore, less pollution! Not only that, but your recycling professionals will thank you for your helping hands.

Non-Recyclables Non-Recyclables


Just because you WISH an item were recyclable doesn’t mean it actually is. Many Americans think most items in the home are recyclable, but several everyday household items can’t be recycled. Below is a list of just a few items that cannot be recycled curbside-- *NOTE: some of these items can be recycled at drop-off locations and through alternative recycling programs in your area:

  • *Plastic bags
  • *Plastic film, wrap, or bubble wrap
  • *Batteries and electronics
  • Plastic OR paper to-go containers, cups, straws, or utensils
  • Plastic pieces smaller than a credit card
  • Styrofoam
  • Coffee pods
  • Frozen food, ice cream, or frozen juice containers
  • Organic material or food waste
  • Clothing Hangers
  • Tangle-prone items (i.e., garden hose, rope, leashes, holiday lights)

Single Stream vs Multi Stream Single Stream vs Multi Stream


As we just mentioned, it can be hard to know what is recyclable, especially with rules and regulations varying by city, county, or state. Waste Management recommends looking up your local recycling programs to familiarize yourself with what you can or CANNOT recycle in your bins, as well as drop-off locations and other tips for processing harder-to-recycle materials. Most importantly, you should find out if your local recycling collections use a single-stream (no sorting required) or multi-stream program (required to sort recyclables by material).


Recycling the right way can take a little extra work. Still, the benefits of our added efforts make all the difference in helping our planet and keeping more plastic pollution from entering our surrounding waterways and ecosystems. In addition to recycling, consider eliminating single-use plastics to reduce your carbon footprint further and do good for the Earth.


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