Know what is recyclable and what is not
I live in a community that offers single sort curb-side recycling, meaning I just put all recyclable items into a bin and the waste management company sorts the useable recycling into individual categories at their facility. As a result, I have never given much thought to the recyclability of any item made with paper, plastic, or glass; I assumed it was all useable in some form.
Recently, I did a little research into the actual process of recycling and discovered The University of Buffalo in New York’s comprehensive list of recyclable materials. Here is what I found about paper recycling:
- Any paper that has been contaminated with food products cannot be recycled, including fast-food wrappers, candy wrappers and pizza boxes (although cardboard is often accepted as a recyclable paper material). Juice and paper milk cartons can’t be recycled because they have a plastic coating on the inside.
- The glue that binds many phone books, paperbacks, and hardback books together makes them, generally, non-recyclable. Fortunately, some phone books are now being manufactured with a glue that is more soluble, allowing the books to be included in the recycling process.
- Typically, tissues, paper towels and napkins cannot be recycled because they are usually contaminated once they reach the trash can, and even clean tissues are not suitable for recycling.
Knowing that not all the paper products I use can be recycled has made me more conscientious about how much paper I send directly to land fills and caused me to use less.
One way to help control the amount of paper I waste is Control-n-Roll inserts in my paper towel and toilet paper tubes.