How clean do my recyclables have to be? etc. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 07-10-2008, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Let's say I have a glass jar of spaghetti sauce. Usually I just rinse it. Often there is a couple of spots of dried sauce near the top. Do I have to get out a sponge and everything and clean that thing within an inch of it's life?

How clean? Clean enough to eat off of? Or just clean enough that there's nothing really visible left?

Another, similar question: if I have a can, do I have to take the label off? I assume yes (I've been doing that). But there's these little bits of glue and paper left in a strip. Do I have to spend time scraping this off? Or is this good enough?

Or let's say I buy a 6 pack of Annie's macaroni and cheese. The larger cardboard box that contains the individual cardboard boxes is sealed at the bottom with tape. ARGH!! It takes me a good 20 minutes to pick off all of the tape (it's the kind that really sticks and tears wherever you manage to pick it up, so you have to pick at it for quite some time). If I left some tape on there, what will that do to the recycling process?

So, overall, how much time do I need to spend prepping these babies?

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#2 of 4 Old 07-11-2008, 01:24 AM
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I was the recycling person at my office and when I took out the cans the bees were after me. Therefore I think rinsing out sweet stuff is a good idea! Think about the folks who do the sorting.

As for tape does your recycling center accept envelopes with windows? If so then they probably have a way to get the tape out.
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#3 of 4 Old 07-12-2008, 10:49 PM
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I imagine different recyclers have different policies, so take this with the proverbial grain of salt, but my mom's group had a field trip to a recycling center and here's what I learned:

* Bottom line, it's probably better to recycle when in doubt than not. They took waaaaay more things than I would have thought and seemed to be of the opinion that they'd rather sort through some crap and get some good stuff than not get as much in the first place.
* They did say that rinsing food out was good because of the odor (as the pp said, think of the sorters). The food doesn't actually affect the recycling process so it wouldn't need to be super clean, though.
*Can labels get incinerated in the recycling process and don't need to be removed. FWIW, I remove them when they're easy and recycle them with the paper, but I don't kill myself. I think the same would apply in most cases to tape, etc.
*This is probably super obvious but I was so glad to hear it--you don't need to rinse all the soap/detergent out of soap/detergent containers. It doesn't affect the process at all.

Hope that helps!
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#4 of 4 Old 07-13-2008, 02:26 PM
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I think it definately depends where you are. I'm not sure *why* but a few years back our recycling company started sending out memos saying that NOTHING had to even be rinsed, don't worry about sorting anything, taking windows or tape out, etc. It seemed odd to me, but I suppose it probably gets more people recycling. I suspect they may be saying don't do it, because if I remember correctly they employ mentally challenged people, to give them a career- this is probably something good and easy, and productive for them to work on.

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