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Jan 27

9 Common Mistakes You Should Avoid When Recycling

You probably know that recycling is one of the most important and effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint and protect the environment. But do you know how much recyclable material is improperly disposed of here in the United States everyday? All those used tires, car batteries, old clothes, and paper waste ends up in landfills where it benefits no one. According to America the Beautiful, if the all the recyclable materials currently present in the U.S. waste stream were actually recycled, they would generate about $7 billion.

You may not even realize that what you’re throwing away is recyclable. To make sure that you haven’t been unwittingly harming the environment, check out the following list of common recycling mistakes.

  1. Leaving out the bottle caps

Americans dispose of 25 million plastic bottles every hour, but too often their bottle caps don’t make it into the recycling bin, too. In the past, plastic bottle caps could not be recycled, but many recycling plants are now accepting them, so next time you toss out a used bottle, make sure to put the cap back on.

  1. Recycling dirty paper

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, paper accounts for 27% of our municipal waste. In fact, we go through 69 million tons of paper in the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, just a few sheets of dirty or greasy paper or cardboard can ruin an entire batch of recyclables. So remember, if it’s dirty or contaminated with grease, it’s trash (we’re looking at you, discarded pizza box).

  1. Failing to recycle magazines

It’s a common misconception that glossy paper products cannot be recycled. In truth, magazines can and should end up in the recycling bin. Unfortunately, just 20% of them ever do.

  1. Not sorting recyclables

Plastic, paper, glass, metal — all of these categories include recyclable material; however, they cannot be recycled together. It is essential that you properly sort your recyclables.

  1. Trying to recycle plastic bags

Americans throw out roughly 100 billion plastic grocery bags every year. You’d think that with all that waste, we’d have come up with an easy way to recycle these common household items. Unfortunately, most recycling programs do not accept plastic bags. If you want to stop these plastic bags from clogging up our landfills and waterways, bring your own reusable shopping bags to the store.

  1. Not recycling at all

The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to recycling is simply not doing it. While over 87% of people in the U.S. have access to drop-off or curbside recycling services, too many people fail to properly dispose of recyclable items.

  1. Being uninformed

In order to dispose of your waste properly, you need to know which items are recyclable and which are not. For instance, some types of glass can be recycled while others, like light bulbs and Pyrex, cannot.

  1. Trying to recycle shredded paper

As much as 90% of office waste, including massive amounts of paper, can be recycled. However, if your workplace has the habit of shredding documents, those itty-bitty pieces of paper are not recyclable because they are not compatible with recycling plant machinery. Instead, create an office compost bin and throw shredded paper waste in there.

  1. Including frozen food boxes

Boxes that are designed to hold freezer foods cannot be recycled because they are covered in a coat of plastic polymer that prevents the box from breaking up during the recycling process.

Now that you are aware of these common recycling mistakes, you can apply this knowledge to your own household waste disposal practices. Spread the word and save the planet!

This guest article and infographic was contributed by the green junk removal company, Junk King.

recycling infographic

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