Most communities offer their residents curbside recycling pick up. And most consumers play their part well. They toss their empty plastic and cardboard containers into the recycling bin and haul it to the curb on the designated day. Fool-proof, right?
Once that pile of stuff leaves your curb, it’s hauled to a recycling center to be processed. But it’s not often worth the time to collect, sort, and process. That’s because the recycling processors make money from reselling the stuff that comes through their facilities. But when that stuff isn’t worth the hassle, it winds up in a landfill — despite your best intentions.
What’s generally not recycled?
- Mesh bags from citrus fruits or onions
- Juice boxes
- Plastic TV dinner trays
- Keurig®-style coffee cartridges
- Loose bottle caps (attached caps are easier for machines to process)
- Boxes made of more than one material (like cardboard pasta boxes with see-through plastic windows)
- Plastic “clam shell” take-out containers
- Plastic straws and stir sticks
- Cereal box liners
- Tetra Pak® containers
How can you help?
Consider your buying habits. Processed foods and take-out meals are typically packaged in materials that recyclers reject. Buy in bulk as often as you can, and opt for unpackaged produce. Aluminum and glass containers are always better than plastic.