Four "Non-Basic" Items to Keep OUT of Your Recycling Cart
How long have you been recycling? If you’re like many people, you’ve recycled for years, so knowing what to recycle is a piece of cake, right? The truth is, knowing what can go in your curbside recycling cart today is much trickier than 20 or even 10 years ago. The sheer amount of products, from pre-packaged food to electronics, has complicated modern-day curbside recycling.
That’s why we’re making recycling easy again by going Back to the Basics! Simply recycle basic materials including cardboard, paper, plastic bottles and jugs, metal cans and glass. These basic items are the foundation of a curbside recycling program. The recycling sorting facility is built to sort basic items like cereal boxes, junk mail, water bottles and soda cans – and then those separated materials can be sent to manufacturers and made into something new. In addition, basic recyclables are more valuable when trash and non-recyclable material are kept out of your cart. View a full list of accepted materials.
The “Non-Basics” – Items to Keep OUT of Your Cart
The easiest way to weed out “non-basic” items, and keep them OUT of your cart, is to consider how many layers and types of material it takes to make the product. For example, an electronic cord is made of metal wires wrapped with plastic coating. Multiple materials = non-basic. Compare that to a piece of paper, which is made simply of paper = basic.
Here is a list of “Non-Basic” materials that commonly cause confusion at the recycling cart and wreak havoc at the sorting facility.
- Electronics – There are a variety of plastics, metals and chemicals used to produce electronic devices which puts them at the top of the list for items to keep OUT of your recycling cart. Multi-layered materials are a tell-tale sign that the item is NOT accepted. However, there is valuable material that can be recycled through other methods in some electronics, so look for options to sell, donate or find local electronic recycling options.
- Pouches, Pods and Disposables – While modern, single-use packaging may seem “basic” because we use it every day, most one-time use packaging is not recyclable in your curbside cart. Flexible pouches used for juice or applesauce for example, are multi-layered with foil, several kinds of plastic laminated together and then topped with various plastic zippers and caps. That’s a lot of materials going into one product. Many coffee pods and disposable items likes coffee cups are also made of layered materials including paper, foil and plastic. Individually these materials may be recyclable separately, but when fused together they are a Non-Basic and non-recyclable in your curbside cart!
- Toys – Whether it’s a small toy truck or a big red tricycle, toys are composed of multiple materials, and are not recyclable in your cart. Even a toy that appears to be all plastic can be deceiving. There are thousands of types of plastics, each with their own chemical composition. Read more about what type of plastic is recyclable in your cart here.
- Clothing and textiles – If you check the label on the shirt you’re wearing right now, chances are it will show that it’s made of a blend of materials. Multi-materials = not-basic. Keep these OUT of the recycling cart. Consider taking clothing to a thrift store or clothing drop-off box for reuse.
When garbage and other non-recyclable items are put in curbside recycling carts, it damages machines, prevents the good recyclables from getting sorted, de-values material, and can ultimately jeopardize an entire recycling program.
A successful recycling program starts with you. Keep it simple. Recycle the basics.