If you have been to the Cheriton Recycling Center on the weekend, you may have found the bins overflowing to the point that staff has had to close them. The problem is that much of what is in the bins are not even recyclable. The following article is by Sue Mastyl. Her column Recycling Corner appears in the CBES Shoreline Magazine and provides many good tips about how to recycle properly. Recycling Corner is the best resource for recycling news, notes, and howtos.
Although we all know the basics of what can and cannot be recycled, there are always nagging questions about whether we’re really doing it right. So we checked with Kathy Russell, Education Outreach Coordinator at TFC Recycling in Chesapeake, which takes all the recycling from Accomack and Northampton counties.
Plastic bottle caps: We’ve heard that we should take the cap off a plastic bottle, so that it’s more easily compressed, and also that we should keep the cap on a plastic bottle since the caps can jam up the machines. Which is preferred? Can the caps be recycled as well, or should they be tossed in the trash?
TFC: With improvements in recycling technology, it’s OK to leave them on, including the plastic ring.
Paper: Do we need to remove the transparent windows from envelopes, or glue spots in magazines?
TFC: No, these come out easily in the recycling process.
Is shredded paper still unacceptable, since it jams the sorting machines?
TFC: Loose, shredded paper is still not accepted. But we can accept it if you place it in a paper bag, staple it shut, and mark it “shredded paper.”
Are paper egg cartons acceptable?
TFC: Yes, but only the paper egg cartons.
Pizza boxes: We’ve heard that even the word “pizza” on the side of a box (even if it’s clean) will be enough to have a whole bale of cardboard rejected. Is this still true?
TFC: If the box has cheese or grease on it, then it cannot be recycled. But if you have a pizza box with grease on the bottom, but the lid is clean, you can separate the two sections and recycle the clean portion.
Cardboard: Is there a limit on the size of cardboard boxes?
TFC: It just needs to fit in the Recycling Container, and can be folded.
Aluminum: We know you accept aluminum cans and aluminum foil – what about aluminum pie plates? Beer bottle caps?
TFC: Yes, as long as they’re clean.
Medicines: Can you take vitamin and medicine bottles, if they’re #1 or #2? What about things like cough syrup and lotions?
TFC: We can’t take pill bottles; because of the size, the scanner has a hard time picking the material up. Cough syrup and lotion bottles are OK, as long as they’re clean.
Glass: We know that only Northampton County accepts glass recyclables. Can all glass be recycled?
TFC: We don’t accept broken glass, because it’s too dangerous for our workers; or glassware, ceramics, lightbulbs, windowpanes, or mirrors, because they’re made from different processes.
Finally, what practices do you wish people would change?
TFC: Please don’t put plastic bags or batteries in with your recycling. Remember that there are many recycling streams (electronics recycling, scrap yards, etc.). Just because it has a recycle symbol, doesn’t mean it goes in the bin. Research your area and see what is acceptable in your local recycling program.
If you can’t remember what to recycle, get back to basics –paper, bottles, and cans. When in doubt, throw it out.
For more information, visit TFC’s website at http://www.tfcrecycling.com/, or call them at 757-543-5766.
Joseph McDonald says
For those who are interested…
The sites provide recycling facilities that include acceptance of plastic, glass, newspaper and cardboard, and aluminum, steel cans and food & beverage cartons. Waste oil and vehicle batteries are collected.
Infographic of Accepted Recyclable Materials