Putting non-recyclables in the recycling - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-25-2010, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When your city specifies what plastic numbers they will take, wdyt of people who put all their plastics in the recycling, regardless of number?

When the city does not specify, do you still "recycle" plastcs that can't be recycled? (iirc, #6 is only recycled in a couple of places, and #7 as a group would be very difficult to recycle, etc)

What do you do with plastics that don't have numbers on them, but look like they may be recyclable? For example, lids from containers that are recyclable #'s (sometimes lids are different numbers from the base container).

I personally trash numbers that are not on my city's recyclable list. I'm torn on what to do with non-numbered plastics. It seems to me that it's helpful for the city to not have extra stuff to go through, and if you "recycle" everything, even trash, you might really underestimate the amount of trash you produce. Otoh, I may be tossing items that I don't know are recyclable.

I have a friend that lives in my city, that puts all numbers in the recycling, saying that the city has to sort it anyway. My MIL lives in a town that does not specify, and she puts everything that has even a remote chance of being recyclable (dirty saran wrap, foil lids from yogurt, #7's), including stuff that my town specifically says not to include, and that I'm almost positive is not recyclable anywhere.

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Old 09-27-2010, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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nobody?
I think I'll email the city to see what they say. I'm still interested in opinions, or people who have inside knowledge

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Old 09-27-2010, 10:05 PM
 
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I only put the stuff in my recycle can that my city recycles. Yeah they have to sort it somewhat anyway but why make a tough job tougher KWIM? My Aveda salon takes the lids to all the soda/powerade/bottled water type containers.
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Old 09-27-2010, 10:15 PM
 
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I only put in what they take. I don't want to make their messy job even harder, PLUS, what if my container is missed and it has something toxic in it and it gets made into a something to put food in...I would hate to be responsible for someone potentially getting sick if I can help it.

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Old 09-28-2010, 04:46 AM
 
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I only put in what they take.

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Old 09-28-2010, 12:42 PM
 
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We only put in what they ask for when it is specified.

When people put stuff in that they aren't supposed to, I think they're idiots. It really isn't that hard to check the number and sort it out.

If the city doesn't specify I don't sort it out. They might be doing something with the stuff that can't be recycled (compacting it, shredding it, etc). They might collect statistics on the composition of what comes in and those figures could be relevant for public education, planning waste management strategies, etc. And if they did find a use for it down the road, it would help to know how much typically comes in from the public.

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Old 09-28-2010, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The city emailed back already. She basically said that it is essental that only specified numbers are put in the bin, and that if something slips by the sorters, it will contaminate the entire load. In many cases, the entire load needs to be trashed if it's contaminated.

There is a facility relatively close to me that does accept other plastics, though. She said that, in theory, all plastics are recyclable, but in reality that's true only where facilities exist, and that 3, 6, 7, and unmarked plastics are low grade, and difficult to sell.

I wonder if it would be worth it to take my other plastics to the other facility? Probably not, when you add in the gas, etc.

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If the city doesn't specify I don't sort it out. They might be doing something with the stuff that can't be recycled (compacting it, shredding it, etc). They might collect statistics on the composition of what comes in and those figures could be relevant for public education, planning waste management strategies, etc. And if they did find a use for it down the road, it would help to know how much typically comes in from the public.
I never thought of that. Good point! So I suppose my MIL is doing the right thing. (though I'd be interested in seeing what her city actually says...)

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Old 10-02-2010, 12:04 PM
 
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I only put what is specified, but it pains me to throw the other other stuff out. There are some places that will take any and all plastic, because they are not recycling it back into the same specified number but are making composite based stuff out of it. For example: there is this company in Houston that will take ANYTHING plastic and they melt it down and make railroad ties out of it. Maybe there is something like that near you?

On the putting stuff into the recycling that they don't take:
My MIL does this, and when I pointed it out to her, she said it was too much trouble and she wasn't going to mess with that, and that if the city would just have to sort it for her. It makes me so mad to see her put things like microwave popcorn bags and stuff like that in there.
I have to wonder though, if contamination is such an issue with stuff like that happening, then why would curbside recycling ever work? I mean there are always going to be those who do this, thus messing up the batches almost every time, so how big a deal is the contamination thing (food on paper, etc)? And, sorters are often going to make errors. How does anything end up recycled at that rate?
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Old 10-02-2010, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's a good question. I sort of assumed that they do miss things sometimes, but the less "other" plastics that are in the bin, the less likely wrong plastics are to get through. Something like playing the odds. lol.

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Old 10-02-2010, 05:30 PM
 
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[QUOTE=Manonash;15906416

On the putting stuff into the recycling that they don't take:
My MIL does this, and when I pointed it out to her, she said it was too much trouble and she wasn't going to mess with that, and that if the city would just have to sort it for her. It makes me so mad to see her put things like microwave popcorn bags and stuff like that in there.
[/QUOTE]

Ours sort it into the truck and if you put something in your not supposed to, they leave it for you to deal with! LOL I get mad when my dh doesn't collapse cardboard boxes, as they always them.

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Old 10-02-2010, 05:41 PM
 
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I am a Master Recycler (I had to take a class through some gov't agencies here...)

It's really important not to throw non-recyclables in the recycling, for the contamination aspect listed above. Not only is it wasteful of the load, but it decreases the revenue the recycler-picker-upers (lol) make, which puts the whole curbside recycling program in jeopardy. What happens is they pick it up from the curb, take it to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), where it is sorted and like items are grouped and bound together to be sold to companies that turn it into useable plastic to make new things. Each lot of recyclables is priced based on what is in it. Clean, correct plastic is worth a lot; dirty, mixed plastic is worth less. If they can't make the money because people are contaminating it, they'll have to stop doing it. And lately (since the economic downturn) the recyclables market has taken a big hit and they're not making much money anyway. Plus they have to pay to take the "bad" materials to the dump, and if there are more people putting wrong things in there, they have to spend more time sorting.

It's all around bad news!

Remember to rinse and sort your recyclables the way your city or recycling company wants you to!

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Old 11-03-2010, 02:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DevaMajka View Post
The city emailed back already. She basically said that it is essental that only specified numbers are put in the bin, and that if something slips by the sorters, it will contaminate the entire load. In many cases, the entire load needs to be trashed if it's contaminated.

There is a facility relatively close to me that does accept other plastics, though. She said that, in theory, all plastics are recyclable, but in reality that's true only where facilities exist, and that 3, 6, 7, and unmarked plastics are low grade, and difficult to sell.

I wonder if it would be worth it to take my other plastics to the other facility? Probably not, when you add in the gas, etc.


I never thought of that. Good point! So I suppose my MIL is doing the right thing. (though I'd be interested in seeing what her city actually says...)
From what I've read on the subject, all plastics are hypothetically recyclable, which is why the items are all marked. But for some types it is nearly impossible to find a facility that actually does it, because the plastic is of poor quality and doesn't warrant the expense generated in sorting, cleaning and recycling.

Also you ought to tell your MIL that food contamination is a big problem and when something gets by the sorters, a wad of plastic wrap with rotten food on it can ruin a whole batch of otherwise good plastic. Better to throw that stuff away if it is too much of a bother to rinse off. And a lot of places don't even want it anyways because of the low grade plastic and contamination hazard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fujiko View Post
I am a Master Recycler (I had to take a class through some gov't agencies here...)

It's really important not to throw non-recyclables in the recycling, for the contamination aspect listed above. Not only is it wasteful of the load, but it decreases the revenue the recycler-picker-upers (lol) make, which puts the whole curbside recycling program in jeopardy. What happens is they pick it up from the curb, take it to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), where it is sorted and like items are grouped and bound together to be sold to companies that turn it into useable plastic to make new things. Each lot of recyclables is priced based on what is in it. Clean, correct plastic is worth a lot; dirty, mixed plastic is worth less. If they can't make the money because people are contaminating it, they'll have to stop doing it. And lately (since the economic downturn) the recyclables market has taken a big hit and they're not making much money anyway. Plus they have to pay to take the "bad" materials to the dump, and if there are more people putting wrong things in there, they have to spend more time sorting.

It's all around bad news!

Remember to rinse and sort your recyclables the way your city or recycling company wants you to!
Thank you for that!

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Old 11-03-2010, 02:34 PM
 
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i don't understand the "contamination" theory. If a non-recyclable carton of milk touches a recycleable can how is it contaminated? wouldn't they just throw away what isn't recycleable and still use the recycleable stuff?

In my town, if you put something in that is not recyclable, they will just leave it in your bin with a note and a checksheet that says why it is not possible to recycle it. I always err on the side of recycling because I don't want to throw something away that could have been recycled and only once has something been left in my bin (it was a yogurt container where the top was smaller than the bottom or something so for some reason it could not be recycled. THey still took everything else and i don't get how it could have contaminated it...*scratches head

I should also add our town requires recycling so maybe that is why i am more likely to recycle more than is actually recycliable for the off chance i'm going to get in trouble for NOT recycling it...if that makes sense.

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Old 11-03-2010, 02:44 PM
 
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I should also add our town requires recycling so maybe that is why i am more likely to recycle more than is actually recycliable for the off chance i'm going to get in trouble for NOT recycling it...if that makes sense.
Our city is like this too. You can get a fine if caught throwing away recyclables.

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Old 11-03-2010, 02:48 PM
 
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i don't understand the "contamination" theory. If a non-recyclable carton of milk touches a recycleable can how is it contaminated? wouldn't they just throw away what isn't recycleable and still use the recycleable stuff?

In my town, if you put something in that is not recyclable, they will just leave it in your bin with a note and a checksheet that says why it is not possible to recycle it. I always err on the side of recycling because I don't want to throw something away that could have been recycled and only once has something been left in my bin (it was a yogurt container where the top was smaller than the bottom or something so for some reason it could not be recycled. THey still took everything else and i don't get how it could have contaminated it...*scratches head

I should also add our town requires recycling so maybe that is why i am more likely to recycle more than is actually recycliable for the off chance i'm going to get in trouble for NOT recycling it...if that makes sense.
It depends on how your recycling program works. Here they ask us to sort like items (plastics, glass, aluminum, steel, paper, and cardboard) into separate bags. These all get tossed onto the same truck and taken to a facility to sort. Contamination happens when someone tosses a milk carton in with the cardboard, the milk sours and stinks up the whole bag, that bag is then contaminated, needing to be trashed. Or let's say it was rinsed, so no rotting, but it's coated with wax and your facility doesn't process that. It slips through into a batch of shredded cardboard, and the wax gums up the machine or lets say they cook it down into whatever, that wax ruins the consistency of the whole batch. In any scenario, you've just created more waste then just 1 milk carton.

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Old 11-03-2010, 02:52 PM
 
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It depends on how your recycling program works. Here they ask us to sort like items (plastics, glass, aluminum, steel, paper, and cardboard) into separate bags. These all get tossed onto the same truck and taken to a facility to sort. Contamination happens when someone tosses a milk carton in with the cardboard, the milk sours and stinks up the whole bag, that bag is then contaminated, needing to be trashed. Or let's say it was rinsed, so no rotting, but it's coated with wax and your facility doesn't process that. It slips through into a batch of shredded cardboard, and the wax gums up the machine or lets say they cook it down into whatever, that wax ruins the consistency of the whole batch. In any scenario, you've just created more waste then just 1 milk carton.
Oh interesting. Here we do not sort at all, we just put paper, plastic, aluminum etc. all thrown in the bin and they do all the sorting. I always rinse though (the sour milk thing would be pretty nasty!!)

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Old 11-03-2010, 02:57 PM
 
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I wish we had something like that. We just got recycling pick up here three weeks ago. So I think it is really important to follow their guidelines and encourage that service to stay!

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Old 11-03-2010, 03:07 PM
 
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Another thing that can contaminate, engine oil bottles. They have the recycling symbol on them and are a common number (#2, I think) but the oil permeates the plastic and contaminates it even if cleaned. I always thought cleaning them probably did worse damage by getting engine oil into the water system anyway. But then I found out that that didn't even get the bottles clean enough to be recycled.

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Old 11-03-2010, 03:18 PM
 
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I will admit to not checking the numbers on plastic.

And occasionally not rinsing out cans thoroughly

I'll be more careful now.

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