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Wednesday, 20 October 2010 17:54

Broom No, Foil Yes

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I am always amazed at what I see sticking out of my neighbors' recycle bins. I'm pretty sure brooms are not recyclable. Plastic bags, nope. Aluminum foil, yes (this one surprised me when I first found out). Check your recycle bin and see if there is any information on it. Mine has a sticker clearly outlining what items are recyclable. Another way is to contact your waste company or look on their website. If you don't know who your trash company is, next time you get the trash bill, see who you pay it to. Then look them up online. You can also try Google to find out. I typed "trash contra costa" into Google (Contra Costa is the county I live in ) and Allied Waste was the first thing to come up on Google which is my local waste management company. Your waste company's website is likely to have a host of information about what is acceptable for recycling with ideas on where to recycle the products that are not accepted. Each area is different, but here are some general rules of thumb.
  • Plastic bags and styrofoam are not recyclable in household bins. There are places that recycle bags, but your recycle bin is not one of them. Take plastic bags to your local grocery store or drugstore. There is a law that says these stores (if they are over 10,000 square feet) have to offer in-store recycling programs for plastic bags. 
  • Recyclable paper includes white office paper, corrugated cardboard, newspaper, phone books, brown paper bags, magazines, and junk mail. Papers should be free of plastics, food items, rubber bands, binder clips, and tape. Staples and plastic window envelopes can be recycled. Paper items that should not be placed in your recycle bin include waxed paper (including cartons and cardboards), laminated paper (including fast food wrappers and pet food bags), stickers, and photographs, to name a few.
  • Other recyclable items include milk and juice cartons, egg cartons, aluminum cans, containers and foil, steel/tin cans, glass bottles and jars and plastic bottles, containers, and jugs with the acceptable recycle number. For example, in my area, plastics 1-5 and 7 are accepted. This means plastics with #6 should be placed in the trash (this is probably the case in most areas since it is very difficult to recycle). You can typically find the recycle number on the bottom of the item with the recycle symbol. If you don't see a number and the recycle symbol as shown below, it is probably not recyclable.


Every time you go to throw an item away, just be mindful of where it belongs—trash or recycle bin. If everyone in the U.S. separated the paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum products from the trash and instead put them in the recycle bin, the waste in landfills would be reduced by 75%!
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