Learn how to do more and recycle half!
Do half Of more than a million tons of garbage thrown away each year, we only recycle 39 percent. We can do more - help the county reach our goal of recycling at least 50 percent of all waste by 2015!
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Recycle Half Challenge
put it in the recycling bin.You're Right.
This item is trash.
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This item is recyclable.
Have a recycling question? Our experts are here to help!
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1. What should I do with caps and lids?Leave plastic lids on to prevent them from falling through the gaps at the recycling sorting facility. This applies to plastic bottles, jugs, cups, containers, and cartons. Remove caps and lids from glass bottles and jars. You can collect metal caps in a metal can (like a soup can). Squeeze the can shut before recycling to prevent the caps from falling through the gaps at the recycling facility.
2. Can I recycle pizza boxes?No. Pizza boxes are not accepted for recycling because they are almost always contaminated with grease and oil. Food is one of the worst contaminants in the paper recycling process because it can ruin entire batches of recycled paper, costing the industry $700 million per year. If you insist on recycling your pizza box, make absolutely sure the entire box is grease-free. Cut or tear out the soiled portions of your pizza boxes and trash them.
3. Can I recycle plastic bags?Check with your hauler. Allied Waste accepts retail plastic bags – put all plastic bags together in one plastic bag before placing in the recycling cart. Waste Management and Randy’s do not accept plastic bags. If you have a different hauler, check with your hauler or city for guidelines. Plastic bags cause problems at the recycling sorting facilities because they become wrapped around moving parts and interfere with equipment. The good news is many retail and grocery stores accept plastic bags. The county drop-off facilities do too.
4. Can I recycle refrigerated and frozen food boxes?Milk cartons and juice boxes can be recycled. Soup, broth, and wine cartons can too. Thanks to new technology at paper mills the valuable, high-quality paper in cartons can be separated from the unwanted layers of plastic and aluminum. However, frozen food boxes and ice cream cartons are typically not accepted because plastic is incorporated into the matrix of the paper during manufacturing. This added plastic helps protect food from freezer burn and ensures that the paper container won’t get soggy. Check with your hauler for details on other items, such as pop and beer cartons and refrigerated food boxes.
5. What do the numbers on plastics tell me about recycling?The numbers on plastics are called Resin Identification Codes and let you know what type of plastic the items is made of. The symbol does not mean the item is recyclable. For example, both shampoo bottles and plastic bags may be #2 plastics, but their recyclability varies. To crack the recycling code, it’s best to use description of the materials (bottles, cups, containers), images and the numbers to determine what is recyclable.
6. How clean do my recyclables need to be?Cleaner is better. Rinse cans, bottles and jars to remove food residue. Here are some other pointers for preparing recyclables.
- Leave plastic caps and lids on
- Remove lids from glass jars
- Flatten boxes
- Remove pumps from spray bottles
- Do not place recyclables in plastic bags
7. What should I do with confidential paper?Confidential paper can be recycled. Your confidential papers are no safer in the garbage than in the recycling, but proper preparation is important. It’s a good idea to shred paper with financial information or other sensitive personal information to prevent identity theft. Place the shredded paper in a brown paper bag, staple it shut, and put it in your curbside recycling cart.
8. Can I recycle egg cartons?It depends on what type of egg carton it is. Paper egg cartons cannot be recycled because the paper fiber in egg cartons has been recycled too often and is too short to be recycled again. However, they are great to use in compost. If the egg carton is Styrofoam™ or #6 polystyrene, it goes in the trash. If the egg carton is a clear #1 plastic, then it can be recycled.
9. I’m confused about plastics. What should I do with Styrofoam™, flower and garden pots, and larger items such as my laundry basket?Styrofoam™ should be placed in the garbage. Examples include Styrofoam™ cups, plates, bowls, take-out containers, egg cartons, mushroom containers, and all other expanded polystyrene foam products. These items may be labeled as #6 plastic. As a general rule, #6 plastics are not accepted for recycling. There are very few viable, cost-effective markets currently available for this material. Transportation costs are prohibitive and it contaminates other materials, not to mention the litter impact. It's best to avoid Styrofoam™. Ask your city or hauler about flower and garden pots. Some haulers accept them, some do not. If they are accepted, make sure to clean out any remaining dirt. Also check with your city or hauler about options for other rigid plastics such as laundry baskets.
10. I know I can’t recycle syringes and needles, but what should I do with them?To reiterate, do not place in the recycling. Sharps are not recyclable and they are a health and safety risk to workers handling materials. Here are several ways to dispose of your sharps, syringes, and needles.
- Destroy needles at home by purchasing a needle destruction unit available online or in many health care stores or use a mail-in program.
- Subscribe to a service that will collect used sharps (needles) from households on a regular basis.
- Use a mail-in program to send used sharps (needles) to be destroyed safely.
- Contact your doctor or pharmacist for disposal alternatives.
- Home disposal is legal but the least safe option. As a last resort, place needles in a hard plastic container (like a laundry detergent bottle), seal tightly, label as “SHARPS – DO NOT RECYCLE.” Throw the container in the trash.