We all want to recycle but it’s a process that is often unnecessarily complicated and in constant flux. While some restaurants have paper plates and cutlery that can be recycled or composted, others have different sets of trash bins, confusing people with the many kinds of recyclables that there are. This process is up to the seller, but consumers are the ones who end up confused.
Recycling laws can change depending on the area where you live, demanding that you do some research if you want to get involved. While most of us think that it’s better to recycle an item even if you’re not completely sure if it’s recyclable, people who work in this industry claim that this leads to machine breakdowns and delays that slow down the recycling process and do more harm than good.
The Huffington Post compiled some tips that can help you learn what to recycle. Here are some of our favorites.
Learn the basics
The basic recyclable items are paper, cardboard, cans and most hard plastic containers, like soda bottles. Depending on where you live, there are different rules. For example, in some places cardboard and paper need to be separated.
Use the web
Websites like BeRecycled.org is a big help for learning your community’s recycling rules. By typing in your zip code you’ll get a list of websites from your area that will give you all of the necessary information.
Clean your recyclables
When it comes to food containers, try to rinse them out or scrape out as much food as possible, especially if you live in an area where paper and cardboard are recycled together. You don’t have to go crazy, just ensure these items are passably clean.
Don’t add in items if you’re not sure they’re recyclable
If you’re not sure if an item could be recycled and you can’t find enough information online, it’s best to avoid placing it in your recycling bin. According to a spokesperson from one of the country’s largest trash companies, they spend “about 140,000 hours every year cleaning plastic bags and tanglers (garden hoses, Christmas lights, chains, etc.) out of our equipment.”