Awareness of waste recycling has arguably never been more widespread. Today, the current recycling rate in the U.S. is at 32 percent, compared to just 7 percent back in 1960. More emphasis on residential and commercial recycling has not only allowed for a better overall impact on environmental sustainability, but has also led to accounting for 681,000 American jobs, as well as an estimated $37.8 billion in wages. But as far as we’ve come in terms of efficient recycling in this country, the fact remains that unawareness and confusion still persist when it comes to comprehending exactly what types of waste can be recycled, as well as how to recycle them.

Statistics show that while approximately 75 percent of all waste Americans produce is recyclable, only about 30 percent of that waste is officially recycled. Much of that can be equated to several long standing myths of recycling that have been generally accepted as fact amongst the status quo. Some of these popular misconceptions contribute to the wrong items ending up in the recycling bin, which can also cause recyclable materials to wind up in landfills when they could’ve been effectively processed and reused. To clear up some of these fallacies, let’s take a look at four of the most common myths regarding recycling, as well as how they can be debunked.

Myth No. 1: All Plastics Are Recyclable

The average American goes through around 250 pounds of plastic a year, which makes it easy to see how people can assume that all the plastic they’re using is completely recyclable. That notion is far from the truth, as there are many variants to plastic materials that can restrict them from being properly recycled. For starters, plastic materials are sorted into seven categories known as Resin Identification Codes (RIC), which are the numeric classifications you see on any given plastic material, which determines the temperature at which the material was heated, then created. To truly know which types of plastic materials are recyclable in your city, you need to correspond with your waste disposal provider to determine which numbers of the RIC codes they accept for recycling.

Take a look at some of the following plastic materials that are commonly found in recycling bins, while more often than not, they’re not accepted by curbside recycling programs:

●        Plastic wrap

●        Condiment pouches

●        Deodorant containers

●        Labels on plastic beverage bottles

●        Egg cartons

●        Coffee cups

●        Plastic bags

These are just a few of the plastic materials that are generally not accepted with most residential or commercial waste services.

Myth No. 2: It’s Not Necessary to Separate Recycling

If you’d ask most people on the street, they’d probably tell you that their recycling bin is the one-stop spot for all their recyclable materials. In reality, about 25 percent of what people put into their recycling bins cannot be recycled by the waste programs that pick them up, primarily because certain seemingly-recyclable materials are actually contaminating for other truly-recyclable materials. 

One of the biggest needs for separating recycling is to ensure that any plastic or recyclable materials used to contain food or beverages will not contaminate other recyclable materials. Any glass, plastic, or aluminum that’s had contact with food should be effectively rinsed, cleaned, and separated from the rest of your recycling pack. In fact, all of your plastic, foil, glass, tin, aluminum, or aerosol cans should be separated and then disposed of, to avoid any cross-contamination risks.

Myth No. 3: Plastic Bags Are Okay For Curbside Recycling

This is a myth that continues to result in severe environmental consequences, all around the world. From winding up polluting our oceans, affecting marine life, to taking up to 1,000 years to organically degrade in a landfill, plastic bags are, in no short, one of the most environmentally damaging materials we commonly use. 

While plastic bags can be recycled, most residential or commercial recycling programs don’t accept plastic bags, which means they’ll most likely end up in landfills. The best way to recycle plastic bags is to take them back to retail or grocery stores that use them, seek out any drop-off recycling sites that accept plastic bags, or if you do accumulate any plastic bags, continue to reuse them in your everyday shopping.

Myth No. 4: Dirty Recyclable Materials Can Still Be Recycled

Ever wonder if the dirty, greasy pizza boxes you’re disposing of are actually being recycled? Unless you’re cleaning off that leftover cheese or grease, they aren’t. As alluded to earlier, any recyclable materials, paper or plastic, that have been contaminated by food or liquids, can’t be properly recycled, even if the material itself is recyclable. You need to wash off any food residue found on plastic, cardboard, or foil packaging in order for it to have a chance to be recycled. You don’t have to give your greasy pizza box the most thorough cleaning of your life; just a subtle rinse and scraping of any residue should suffice!

Contact LJP Waste Solutions For Professional Recycling Service

The more aware and active we are about appropriate recycling, the better off our environment will be! If you’re unsure of whether or not your recycling waste is being efficiently processed and disposed of, LJP Waste Solutions has the residential or commercial recycling services for you! We work hard to ensure that every piece of your recycled waste is effectively processed and reused, so our landfills won’t continue to accumulate more waste than they already are. Contact us today to learn more about our waste solutions, or give us a call at 507.625.1968 to speak directly with one of our waste management experts.