Every building with an eye on sustainability should have a recycling program. However, improper practices lead to recycling contamination. By throwing one unsuitable item into a recycling container, you risk contaminating everything else.
With its #1MORE initiative, waste management provider Republic Services Inc. encourages communities to take #1MORE step to recycle more responsibly.
"We all play a critical role in keeping our community recycling programs running properly and helping to reduce contamination," says Pete Keller, Vice President of Recycling and Sustainability at Republic Service. "Many consumers are placing contaminated items into their containers and consequently, many of those recyclables end up in the landfill and not where they were intended.”
Republic Services offers these three tips that will reduce recycling contamination. To ensure that your recycling program is working as intended, communicate these tips to your facilities’ occupants.
1) Recyclables should be empty, clean and dry. It’s easy to undo the good intentions of recycling by including materials that are dirty or wet. Make sure they are empty and clean of any residue before placing them in the recycling container.
2) When in doubt, throw it out. If you aren’t sure whether something is recyclable, don’t include it with the rest of your clean recyclables. It isn’t enough to hope materials are recyclable. Throwing out questionable items is better than accidentally contaminating a batch of recyclables.
3) Know what should never go in a recycling container. Items in your facility that you should never place in a typical recycling container include:
- Plastic grocery and shopping bags
- Food waste
- Styrofoam, fiberglass and other foam packing material
- Tissue, paper towels and paper napkins
- Treated or contaminated wood, sheetrock or drywall
- Electronic devices and equipment, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs and ballasts. These must be handled differently than other recyclables.
Getting employees at your organization to buy into proper recycling practices will make sure that your program doesn’t create more waste through recycling contamination.