You might think that you're helping the environment by recycling. But if you do not recycle the right things, you can possibly do more harm than good. Grease, liquids, biological waste and hazardous waste are common recycling "gotchas" to avoid. Here are some other tips to help you recycle.
Rinse Out Food Containers
You should only recycle a plastic food container if you completely rinse it out beforehand. Always rinse out plastic, aluminum and glass bottles. Do not recycle paper if it is covered with grease or food debris, such as with napkins and paper towels. Don't toss a greasy pizza box into the garbage can.
Pour Out Liquids
Always pour liquid out of liquid containers before placing them in the recycling bin. Recycling bins are not the same as garbage cans and a beverage with liquid can ruin some of the other contents of the recycling bin. Even worse is when the liquid is in a bottle with the cap screwed on. The baling machines will cut open the bottle and the liquid will spill out, creating a mess. Simply pouring the liquid out is not always enough. Instead, pour and thoroughly rinse it out. Also, if the recycling bin has a lot of liquids inside, the container will be much heavier to carry. You can rinse milk and juice cartons, something many don't realize, but be sure to empty these out as well.
Don't Recycle Biological Waste
Biological waste should not be recycled at all. This includes used diapers. First, dispose of any feces in the diaper into the toilet. Then, the rest of the diaper can be placed in the garbage. For other forms of biological waste, you could simply toss it in the garbage. However, some forms of waste can be recycled by composting them.
You can compost most plants, including your fruits and vegetables. However, you should avoid composting diseased plants and weeds unless you are knowledgeable of the proper way to do so. To kill the diseases in diseased plants, the compost pile will need to get to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. As for weeds, you will want to first let them dry until they have become crunchy before adding them to your compost pile.
Don't Recycle Hazardous Waste
Anything that was in contact with hazardous waste must not be recycled. Instead, the container and the hazardous waste itself should be disposed of at a hazardous waste disposal facility.
It might not seem like these mistakes can have a large impact, but if everyone makes these mistakes regularly, recycling can become unsustainable as it becomes more expensive for the recycling center to separate the contaminated recyclables from the usable ones.
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