Join the nonprofit movement and display the standardized labels on your recycling bins to make it easier for everyone to recycle right, wherever they might be.
If there are instructions on the bin, follow them as best as possible.
NO food, NO liquids, NO straws, NO plastic cups and NO plastic dishware in the recycling bin. Compost all food and food-soiled paper when possible.
NEVER put your recyclables in plastic bags and never put any plastic bags in your regular recycling bin or recycling dumpster. Plastic bags and plastic wrap get jammed in recycling processing equipment, which causes recycling to be expensive to process.
If you absolutely need to use a plastic bag or need to line your bin with a plastic bag, then empty your loose recyclables into the recycling cart or recycling dumpster -- and take your empty plastic bag to a place where they will recycle plastic bags. If you can't find a plastic bag recycler, then either reuse your plastic bag or throw it in the trash bin.
Again, please avoid using, accepting or purchasing plastic bags entirely.
Avoid one use items as much as possible. As a rule of thumb, unless your recycling hauler has indicated specifically that they can accept any of these items remember: NO aluminum foil, NO plastic or metal utensils, NO plastic bags, NO Styrofoam, and NO plastic wraps or wrappers should ever go in the recycling bin.
Unless you have a clean cardboard pizza box, please do not put cheesy, oily pizza boxes in your recycling bin. The oil, cheese, and sauce on the box can contaminate the cardboard. If you compost your food waste, then please compost the pizza box if there isn't any plastic in or on it. Otherwise, put it in the trash and send it to the landfill.
NO NEED TO WASH, however, please empty and scrape out the food or materials from all bottles, jars, containers, and cans before putting it in the recycling bin. For instance, if you have a peanut butter jar, just scrape it as clean as possible, but no need to wash it. And please remove all metal lids from glass jars.
NOTE: Sadly, some communities are not recycling glass anymore. Refer to the instructions on the bin (or check with your county or city). IF you can recycle glass in your community, never put glass drinkware or window glass in your bin. Recycle glass bottles and jars only.
Plastic bottles and jugs with #1-#2 on the bottom are recyclable: Avoid single-use plastic bottles when possible. However when you have them, empty and recycle all plastic bottles and jugs that have necks.
Plastic caps: In most larger communities where Mixed Recycling is the sorting system, it is generally preferred to have the plastic cap put back on the empty plastic bottle or jug before you put it in the recycling bin.
Other plastics #3-#7: Before throwing other types of plastics in the recycling bin, confirm that your recycling hauler will accept them. Refer to the numbers on the bottoms of containers. When in doubt, throw them out.
Prescription and Sample Bottles: Do not put prescription bottles or sample sized bottles in your regular recycling bins; instead, contact your county or city to find out how to properly dispose of or recycle them.
Recycle all clean paper and all clean and flattened cardboard boxes. If you have time, please remove all tape and all plastic wrap that might be attached to the cardboard. They will accept tape on the cardboard, but the cardboard recycling processors will greatly appreciate it, if you remove all plastic materials from the cardboard.
WHEN IN DOUBT THROW IT OUT. As much as we might want everything to be recyclable, many things are not. In fact, making too many mistakes can cause even good materials to go to landfills. So instead of wish-cycling, make sure every common recyclable such as metal cans, plastic bottles, plastic jugs, clean cardboard, and clean paper gets recycled. And if you're not sure about something, let it go to the landfill to avoid contamination.
NEVER put drinking glasses, cups or dishware in the recycling bin. Putting dishware and glass in the recycling bin can cause many issues for the processors and can cause huge issues for the glass manufacturers, including destroying their equipment and causing the good glass jars and bottles to be unusable. If you have dishware and drinking glasses that are intact, please bring them to your local Goodwill or local reuse shop. If they are broken, put them in the trash and send them to the landfill.
If possible, start composting or hire a compost service to pick up your food waste and soiled paper waste.
Compostable plastics are only compostable in industrial or commercial compost processing facilities. DO NOT THROW COMPOSTABLE PLASTICS IN RECYCLING BINS - compostable plastics such as PLA, are not recyclable and can actually contaminate good recycling. If you have compostable plastics, either throw them in a bin marked for true industrial compost, or throw them in the trash. And when purchasing compostable products, such as cups, serving ware, etc., make certain the products are well marked as "compostable" and ideally display the BPI certified logo, so they aren't mistaken for traditional plastic.
Take all of your used batteries to a recycling facility or store that recycles batteries. Check with your local city or county offices - or your local hardware store to learn more.
Take all of your electronics to a SERI certified electronic recycling facility. Check with your local city and county offices, for more information.
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