Recycling The Right Way
India recently announced it won't be accepting post-consumer plastic imports, and China has already stopped accepting most recycling imports. The reason, according to Popular Science reports, is partly because of the often highly-contaminated materials recycling countries have been sending.
Much of what goes in recycling bins is non-recyclable waste, including hazardous materials. In fact, recyclables often include as much as 25 percent contamination. Before it can be sold to India or China, for example, it needs to include less than 1 percent contamination.
Although there might be fewer options for handling recyclables oversees, some U.S. companies are happy to tackle this problem here at home. Waste Management, for example, operates 100 recycling sorting facilities in North America and sells its materials to domestic recycling plants, so its operations have remained mostly unchanged.
That said, contamination is still a problem. According to reports, contamination increases the company's costs, causes safety problems and increases the environmental burden.
For organizations that strive for better recycling, here are some tips:
• Watch your can liners. In most states, clear can liners are the only acceptable option for handling recycled materials. Better yet, ditch the bag altogether. Some progressive states are already looking at eliminating liners for recycled materials.
• Scrap metals — such as old pipes — are contaminants. They are recyclable but need to be taken to a facility that can handle them.
• Crushed cans and cartons can contaminate recycling because they’re harder to sort out when flattened.
• Paper products and containers made of glass and aluminum are usually fine. Plastic can be more confusing. Stick to bottles, tubs, jars and jugs. Food doesn't contaminate plastic and glass, but it's good to rinse them to discourage pests throughout the collection process.
• In paper products, food can actually ruin the material, making it unrecyclable. A really greasy, cheesy pizza box should be composted instead of recycled.
• For plastic containers, keep the lid back on. The end markets now want the lids. But they need be on the bottle or they’ll get thrown away.
For more, read the full article here.
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