You’ve seen the chasing arrows on the bottom of that Styrofoam cup and the tiny number that sits inside the little triangle. It appears to be recyclable, so you toss it in your recycling cart with hopes that it will soon be transformed into a useful, eco-friendly product. Without realizing it, you have just contaminated the recycling stream—and we’d like you to brush up on your recycling facts this America Recycles Day.
So why aren’t all items with a triangle recyclable? Because recycling is more than a convenience or the right thing to do; it’s a business. After your recycling provider has sorted the items from your curbside bin, a buyer is needed to purchase the materials. Without a buyer, the recyclables have nowhere to go. Local audits of recycling carts showed that nearly 40 percent of what was collected at the curb was unacceptable. Some of the most common contaminants are Styrofoam, garden hoses, metal wire, yard debris, diapers, plastic bags, clothing, and dirty take-out containers.
To help turn things around, we hope everyone will take a moment to become familiar with what can and can’t go in your curbside recycling bin during America Recycles Day and follow these easy steps to reducing waste and keeping local recycling programs strong:
- Consider if an item can be reused or donated before you trash it
- Think about packaging and disposal options when making purchasing decisions
- Reduce waste by avoiding single-use plastics, such as straws, plastic water bottles and plastic bags whenever possible
- Pack a waste-free lunch
- Buy recycled products
- Check with your recycling provider to find out which items are accepted in your recycling bin
- Know that clean plastic bottles, cans, paper and cardboard are almost always accepted
- Don’t bag your recyclables, but leave items loose in the bin so they can be sorted easily
- Plastic bags are not accepted in your curbside bin; take them back to the grocery store
- Take rechargeable batteries and electronics to a drop-off facility or collection event
You can also check our event calendar to find an upcoming recycling event in your city or county in celebration of America Recycles Day. While events differ by locality, many include the collection of items that aren’t accepted for regular curbside recycling, such as electronics, plastic bags, ink and toner cartridges, household hazardous waste, documents for shredding, unwanted household items and clothing.
Now help us spread the word about recycling! askHRgreen.org has resources you can use and share to help spread the word about the importance of recycling. The “Recycle More, Trash Less” marketing campaign toolkit includes digital ads in various sizes, a :30 and a :60 radio spot, as well as a :60 video.