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So You Have A Recycling Cart, Now What?

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Author: Hai Le

Updated on August 29, 2023 • Estimated read time: 5 minutes

Congratulations on taking a step towards a more sustainable future by getting yourself a recycling cart! Recycling is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and help conserve natural resources.

However, having a recycling cart is just the first step. To make a real difference, you need to know how to use it effectively. So, in this blog post, I'll guide you through the process of recycling, from sorting your materials to understanding what can and cannot be recycled.

Disclaimer: Recycling guidelines vary by location. Before you put anything in your recycling bin, check with your local waste management agency or visit their website to see what materials are accepted in your recycling program.

What Not To Recycle?

Not all materials can be recycled. Some common non-recyclable materials include:

  1. Plastic Bags: These bags often clog the recycling machines, so they are usually not accepted by local recycling programs and should not be placed in your recycling bin.
  2. Small-Size Plastic (roughly 3 inches or smaller): Small plastic items like straws, lids, and bottle caps can get stuck in the sorting machines at recycling centers. This can delay the recycling process and even damage the equipment.
  3. Hazardous Materials: Certain items, like batteries, electronics, and chemicals, are considered hazardous materials and should not be placed in your recycling cart.
  4. Food Contaminated Items: Items like pizza boxes soiled with grease or containers with leftover food can contaminate the recycling stream and are not allowed to be put inside a recycling cart.

Learn about 10 Items That Usually Not Recyclable.

Tip: Do not bag recyclables. When recyclables are bagged, the bags can get caught in the sorting machines at recycling centers. This can cause the machines to jam and break down, which can lead to delays in recycling or even damage the equipment.

Also, If you are not sure whether an item can be recycled, it is best to check with your local waste management agency. By recycling properly, you can help to reduce waste and protect the environment.

Summary: Not everything can be placed in your recycling bin. Items such as plastic bags, small plastics under 3 inches, hazardous materials, and contaminated with food are not recyclable. Also, you should not bag your recyclables. Instead, you should loose-fill your recyclables into your recycling bin. This will help to keep your recycling clean and free of contamination.

A person recycling stamped onto the cardboard - Ecopify

What Can You Recycle?

The most common recyclable materials include paper, plastic, metal, glass, and cardboard. Here is a list of items that can be recycled:

  1. Plastic: Plastic is one of the most commonly recycled materials. Items such as plastic bottles, jugs, tubs, lids, and bags are all recyclable.
  2. Paper: This includes newspapers, magazines, junk mail, office paper, cardboard, and paperboard. It is important to remove any staples, clips, or other non-paper materials before placing them in your recycling bin.
  3. Metal: Another commonly recycled material is metal. Items like aluminum cans, tin cans, and steel cans are all recyclable.
  4. Glass: Glass containers and jars are 100% recyclable, and you can recycle them endlessly because they don't lose their quality after the recycling process.

Learn about 10 Items That Usually Recyclable.

Tip: Rinse out containers and bottles before placing them in your recycling cart to help prevent contamination. Many beginners make the mistake of not properly cleaning or emptying their containers before recycling. This can contaminate other recyclables and may lead to the recyclable not being accepted.

Summary: The 4 most common recyclable materials are paper, plastic, metal, and glass. Again, if you are not sure whether an item can be recycled, check with your local waste management agency.

reduce reuse recycle stamped on to the side of cardboard in green

How To Recycle?

Now that you know what can and cannot be placed in your recycling bin, here are the 3 easy steps on how to recycle properly by The Central Virginia Waste Management Authority:

  1. Place all your recyclables inside the cart with the lid closed. This will help to keep your recyclables clean and dry, and it will also make it easier for the recycling trucks to collect them.
  2. Set your cart at the curb by 7 a.m. on collection day. Ensure that your cart is visible from the street and not blocked by parked cars or other objects.
  3. Leave 3 feet between the recycling cart and parked vehicles or other carts. This will give the recycling trucks enough space to maneuver.

Tip: Flatten down all cardboard boxes. Large cardboard boxes can take up a lot of space in your recycling cart. To maximize space and ensure that your boxes are properly processed, take a few minutes to flatten them before you put them in the cart.

Summary: To properly recycle, first place all your recyclables inside the cart with the lid closed. Then, set your cart at the curb by 7 a.m. on the collection day and make sure to leave 3 feet between the recycling cart and parked vehicles or other carts to allow the recycling truck to do its jobs.

Quick Takeaway

Having a recycling cart is a positive step towards reducing your environmental impact, but using it effectively requires some knowledge and effort. By following these tips, you can make recycling a part of your everyday routine.

  1. Not everything can be recycled. Do not put plastic bags, small plastics under 3 inches, hazardous materials, or contaminated items in your recycling bin.
  2. The 4 common recyclable materials are paper, plastic, metal, and glass. Also, remember to rinse out containers and bottles before placing them in your recycling cart.
  3. To properly recycle, place all your recyclables inside the cart with the lid closed. Set your cart at the curb by 7 a.m. on collection day, and make sure to leave 3 feet between the recycling cart and parked vehicles or other carts for the recycling truck to do its job.

Disclaimer: Recycling guidelines vary by location. Before you put anything in your recycling bin, check with your local waste management agency or visit their website to see what materials are accepted in your recycling program.

Frequently Asked Questions Relate To This Blog:

Question #1: What can I recycle in my recycling cart?

Answer: The items that can be recycled in your recycling cart vary depending on your local recycling program. However, you can simply tell if an item is recyclable by checking the recycling symbol on the item. The recycling symbol is a triangle made up of three arrows pointing in a clockwise direction.

Question #2: How do I prepare my recyclables for pickup?

Answer: To prepare your recyclables for pickup, you will need to rinse out and remove any food or debris stuck on your recyclables. You can also remove any lids from bottles or flatten cardboard boxes to save space in your recycling cart and help the collector.

Question # 3: What are the benefits of recycling?

Answer: By recycling, you can help reduce pollution by keeping waste out of landfills and conserve natural resources, such as trees, water, and minerals. Recycling also saves energy by reducing the need to extract, process, and transport raw materials.

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