Recycling programs often run into big problems with what is known as "wrong bin recycling." This is when recyclable items are placed in the wrong recycling bin.
"This can be a real problem; in fact, in some cases, the entire load of recyclable items must be discarded because of it," says Doug Berjer, Product Manager for CFR.
An unfortunate example of this recently occurred in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The city’s recycling program began with considerable enthusiasm. But after several months, it was discovered that not only were recyclable items being placed in the wrong bin, nonrecyclable items were often being tossed in as well — including even dead animals.
Another common "wrong bin" problem is when something like a recyclable glass item, for instance, is tossed into a recycling bin along with the paper or plastic bag it is being transported in. "Glass should always go in one bin, paper in another, and plastic in still another bin," says Berjer.
But there are a few ways to help stop, or at least minimize, wrong bin recycling:
• Make sure recycling bins are color coded and clearly marked. Blue bins should be used for one type of recycling, green for another, etc. It is important to also keep these colors consistent throughout the facility.
• Make recycling bins location specific. Bins for collecting metals and cardboard are best kept in a warehouse, while bins for plastic and paper make sense in an office area.
• Educate staff members regarding the importance of placing recyclable objects in the correct bin. While many facilities have recycling bins, few emphasize the importance of placing items in the proper receptacles.