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What Can Be Recycled? Your Complete 2019 Recycling Guide

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Picture this: you just finish eating your favourite meal in a styrofoam container along with your favourite chips and a refreshing can of pop.

You get up to throw everything out but you’re stuck.

Do you recycle everything? What about the chip bag? Is the styrofoam recyclable?

When it comes to waste, it’s important to know what you can recycle and what you can’t recycle. And to answer those questions, the chip bag and styrofoam are not recyclable items.

With landfills being the biggest contributor to soil pollution and 80% of landfill items being recyclable, it’s evident that we need to be more educated when it comes to what you can throw in your blue bin.

Since 9 out of 10 people said they would recycle if it were “easier”, we decided to create one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use recycling guides to help you identify what items can continue to be used after you.

Here’s what tools you have in this recycling guide:

-OneGlass: A recycling bot you can message at any time to find out what things you can recycle and can't recycle.

-Infographic: A visual guide on what you CAN'T recycle to keep you from contaminating your recycle bin.

-Recyclable Plastics: A guide on what plastics can and can't be recycled.

-Common Recycling Mistakes: Some common recycling mistakes to avoid.

-5 Fundamental Recycling Principles: General recycling rules of thumb to follow

-Recycling Center Near Me: Check what recycling center is closest to you.

-Why We Should Recycle: A reminder of why we should be recycling.

*Although this is a GENERAL recycling guide that will give you a solid understanding of what you can and can't recycle, it may not be 100% accurate to your local area.

If you would like a recycling bot and infographic made specific to your local area for FREE, feel free to reach out to me at daniel @ oneclass . com*

OneGlass the Recycling Guide

oneglass logo, a recycling guide bot that tells you what you can and cannot recycle

Click me to check out the recycling guide!

OneGlass is our friendly recycling bot who will tell you:

-What you can recycle and can’t recycle (paper recycling, cardboard recycling, glass recycling, metal recycling [aluminum recycling], plastic recycling and other).

-HOW to recycle items that are recyclable

-Interesting recycling facts and stats to give you some context on how important it is to be mindful of what you’re throwing out and what you’re recycling.

We’d love for you try it out below:)

oneglass recycling guide bot button

Click to try it out!

Recycling Infographic: What You Can't Recycle

What you can recycle and can't recycle really does depend on your local recycling center at the end of the day but it's very useful to know what you generally can and can't recycle.

That's why we created a handy infographic to help you keep the non-recyclable items from contaminating your recycle bin.

Just check the paper, glass, plastic, metal, and other categories to see if the item you're looking to recycle is on the list.

If it is, keep that item out of your recycling bin and check with your local recycling center on how to handle that item.

infographic on what you generally can't recycle. categorized by non-recyclable paper, glass, plastic, metal, and other items. For example, some items you can't recycle are coffee cups, light bulbs, plastic bags, razor blades, styrofoam, and batteries.

Share this Infographic! (Copy and Paste Code To Your Site)

What Plastics are Recyclable?

Not all plastics are made equal. In fact, they fall under 7 different categories.

To see how to recycle plastic, find what category your plastic falls under by looking for the following symbols and plastic recycling numbers on your plastic container (1 through 7):

plastic categories numbers 1 through 7
NumberType of PlasticRecyclable?
#1PETE (Poloyehtylene Terephthalate)RECYCLABLE
#2HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)RECYCLABLE
#3V (Polyvinyl Chloride)GENERALLY UN-RECYCLABLE (Check with local recycling center)
#4LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)GENERALLY RECYCLABLE (Check with local recycling center)
#5PP (Polypropylene)GENERALLY RECYCLABLE (Check with local recycling center)
#6PS (Polystyrene)GENERALLY UN-RECYCLABLE (Check with local recycling center)
#7Other (BPA, Polycarbonate, LEXAN, etc.)GENERALLY UN-RECYCLABLE (Check with local recycling

Common Recycling Mistakes

When it comes to recycling, it's common to make mistakes. After all, we're only human. To help you learn from other people's mistakes, here are some common recycling mistakes people make!

Recycling Plastic Bags - Although it is plastic, plastic bags cannot be recycled. This is mainly due to the fact that they can get caught in recycling machinery and potentially damage it. Keep away from your recycling bin!

Recycling Coffee Cups - Due to being coated in plastic or wax to prevent leaking, many local recycling centers don't accept them and so coffee cups should not be recycled. However, coffee cup lids are typically okay to recycle.

Recycling Shredded Paper - Since it's difficult to sort recyclable paper from non-recyclable paper and the fact that it can clog up recycling equipment, shredded paper is typically not recyclable (however some recycling centers do accept them if they're in a paper bag labelled shredded paper).

Removing the labels from cans and bottles - This is actually not required for recycling; so save yourself some time and energy and throw it in the bin!

Not washing out cans before recycling - If this isn't done, the food/liquid remnants can contaminate your whole recycling bin, resulting in all of your other perfectly good recyclables ending up in a landfill. So don't be lazy, just quickly rinse before recycling cans and jars!

Learn from these mistakes so you know what NOT to recycle. You don't want to be contaminating your bin and your recycling efforts by recycling batteries or even recycling light bulbs.

5 Fundamental Recycling Principles

1. Check Local Guidelines

Always double check with your local recycling guidelines before recycling anything.

Recycling guidelines can vary quite a bit based on your local recycling center.

Although we’ve provided a list of general/commonly recyclable items, it’s always best practice to make sure you follow your local municipality’s specific instructions on recycling specific items.

2. Reuse/Re-purpose

diy image of wrenches repurposed to become hangers by being bent and screwed to wall.

A clever DIY way of re-purposing wrenches for hangers!

The second ‘R’ in Reduce Reuse Recycle is to reuse.

Before you recycle anything or if you find that an item cannot be recycled, it might be a good idea to get those creative juices flowing and think how you can repurpose what you have into something that can be really useful for yourself or for others.

3. Food and Liquids

one last pizza slice in pizza box but with minimal grease on the box so it is recyclable.

If your pizza box has minimal grease, it is usually okay to recycle.

Any leftover juice or food scraps can leave your recyclables contaminated and dumped in a landfill instead of being recycled and reused.

With this being said, it doesn’t mean that the tiniest bit of food or juice can ruin your whole recycling effort. All that’s needed is a little extra care to make sure there aren’t any large chunks of food or juice in your recyclables when you throw them in your recycling bin.

What’s important to know is that with steel and glass recycling, small amounts of food and liquid won’t affect the recycling process (but just be sure to give your cans and jars a quick scrape and/or rinse). However, the bigger concern is with paper recycling since a little bit of food or liquid can deem a paper product unrecyclable.

4. E-waste and Hazardous Waste

image of thousands of phones as electronic waste (e-waste) to be recycled.

Electronic waste is always a tricky recycling topic. Check with your local recycling center!

If electronic recycling (e waste recycling) and hazardous waste (incl. things like fluorescent light bulbs, and batteries) are not handled properly, they can end up in the landfill and the toxic metals and material can leak into the environment, harming the surrounding ecosystems.

Although electronics and hazardous waste do require a little more attention than your standard recyclables, it’s important to dispose of/recycle them the right way.

Check with your local municipality on the proper guidelines on how to deal with electronics recycling and hazardous waste in your area.

5. When in doubt, throw it out

outlined image of person throwing out trash in the garbage bin.

Guessing is not the best recycling practice!

If you’re ever confused about whether something can be recycled or not, check our handy infographic or our recycling bot, and then with your local municipality.

If you’re still confused, it’s probably best to throw it out in the garbage. Although you have the right intention in mind to recycle, guessing isn’t a good recycling practice.

Throwing a non-recyclable item into the recycling creates a lot of inefficiencies and makes the recycling process a lot longer than it needs to be, which in turn wastes a lot of the resources you were trying to save in the first place.

So when in doubt, throw it out.

Recycling Center Near Me

*These are general guidelines to give you a convenient way to learn what you generally can and can't recycle. It's always recommended to double check with your local recycling center or municipality.*

Check out earth911 below to find a recycling drop off center near you:

Recycling Near Me

You'll be able to find details on specific items such as mattress recycling, ink cartridge recycling, tire recycling, computer recycling, appliance recycling, plastic bag recycling, etc.

Why Should We Recycle?

question marks on trees in the forest to symbolize why we should recycle.

We should be more forward thinking and take recycling seriously.

At the end of the day, we have to realize that the resources we use on a day to day basis are limited.

With Earth's vast population and having to meet our needs, we're using essential resources at an unsustainable rate and that needs to change.

Although considerable damage has already been done to the environment, it's never too late to make a committed effort to try and reverse the damage done.

The best part is, it only takes a few minutes out of your day to ensure you're throwing your recyclables in the blue bin instead of the trash, and you'll be doing your part.

If everyone in the US recycled one aluminum can, 295 million new aluminum cans could be made, reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 6,750 cars off the road, and save the energy equivalent to 80,000 barrels of oil.

Let's keep the future generation in mind and take those extra few minutes to make our world a better place.

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Author: daniel @ oneclass . com


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