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How to recycle paper, plastic and aluminum + dispose of Styrofoam

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to recycling paper, plastics, metals, and other unclear mixtures.

Obviously, limiting single-use waste is ideal, but it is not always as feasible as our current grocery stores operate. The next best thing is to make sure you dispose of this waste responsibly… Ideally, avoid it becoming waste in the first place.

When you live in a building in New York City, you will learn about the recycling habits of your neighbors because you share a trash can. So I can witness the random toys, greasy pizza boxes and plastic bags that should really be thrown in the trash can. Most people are good neighbors, but bad recyclers.

Unfortunately, your own guilt is not enough to justify putting something in the recycling bin. Doing so will actually contaminate the entire batch of products. So be a good person and do your homework. Rule of thumb #1 is: when in doubt, throw it away.

To help me write this comprehensive recycling guide, I invited Shannon Bergstrom to comment on her expertise.She is a LEED green assistant, real waste consultant and writer Zero waste.

Read on for the six most common types of household waste you need to know and how to recycle (or discard) responsibly.

With health and hedonism,


1. Paper and cardboard

In the United States alone, paper is made Account for 25% of all municipal solid waste Produced in 2017-more than any other material. The good news is that compared to all other materials, paper has the highest recycling rate: 65.9%.

Recycled paper can be used to make new paper products. It also helps protect trees and precious natural resources. More importantly, each ton of recycled paper can release 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.

What to recycle?

  • Office paper and printing paper
  • Mail and envelope
  • Newspapers, magazines, catalogs and advertising inserts
  • Dry food packaging, such as cereal boxes
  • Frozen food packaging
  • Non-greasy pizza box
  • Shoe box
  • tissue box
  • Paper bag
  • Paper towels and toilet paper rolls
  • Soap box and cosmetic packaging
  • Corrugated cardboard

What to do and what not to do

  • Disassemble the cardboard box and flatten the cardboard box. This makes them easier to handle and saves space.
  • Make sure your waste paper is not contaminated with liquids, food or other waste. A single contaminated item may endanger the entire batch. This means there are no greasy pizza boxes! If you want to recycle, please cut off the top or sides of the box-where there is no grease.
  • Remove the plastic window and bubble film from the envelope And other packaging. Mixed materials cannot be recycled.
  • Unfortunately, shiny or laminated gift packaging is not recyclable. Therefore, it is best to choose a decorative gift box that does not require packaging and can be reused many times or wrapped with alternatives such as kraft paper. For more tips on how to find eco-friendly packaging or low-waste gifts, click here.

2. Glass

Glass can be recycled almost indefinitely, without any loss of quality and purity. More importantly, using recycled glass can help manufacturers cut energy costs, 2–3% per 10% of glass shards Used in the production process.

Each ton of recycled glass can save more than one ton of natural resources such as sand, limestone, soda ash and feldspar. In addition, every 6 tons of recycled glass used in the manufacturing process helps reduce greenhouse carbon dioxide emissions by 1 ton.

That said, not every municipality recycles glass, so be sure to understand the rules of local roadside programs.

What to recycle?

  • bottle
  • Jar
  • Food container
  • cosmetic packaging

What to do and what not to do

  • Before handling, be sure to empty, rinse and dry glass bottles and containers. Never leave more than a teaspoon of liquid in recyclables, or you may contaminate the entire truck.

3. Aluminum

Aluminum is another material that can be recycled indefinitely. But there is more: Recycling a can only requires 5% of the energy required to make a new can And reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95%.

What to recycle?

  • Beverage can
  • Aluminum foil
  • Spray can
  • Beverage can
  • Pet food cans
  • cooking utensils

What to do and what not to do

  • In addition to the standard community recycling program, some states have aluminum recycling centers or shops where you can return empty cans and get a refund of your deposit.
  • Some cans have an insulating coating and are not always recyclable. Be sure to check your local regulations.
  • Remove paper or plastic labels, Remove all food residue, and dry the cans before recycling.

4. Plastic

American households and businesses have created more than 35 million The plastic tonnage in 2018 is equivalent to 12% of waste streamHowever, only 8.5% of these plastics are recycled.

One reason for the relatively low recycling rate is that not all plastics are the same, and some plastics are easier to recycle than others.To find out what kind of plastic you are dealing with, please see Small triangle symbol At the bottom of the container. The number inside the triangle indicates the type of plastic. This will help you understand whether the item is acceptable for your local roadside project.

We recommend that you first check your municipal recycling requirements to understand which items you can and cannot put in the recycling bin.

The most common recycled plastics are #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE) plastics. They are the most widely accepted plastics in the national roadside recycling program. #1 Plastics are usually your water bottles and household cleaner plastic bottles. #2 Plastics are your detergent bottles, milk cans, shampoo bottles, etc. Sometimes you will find soft plastic with the #2 symbol-fragile film or plastic bags. These need to be dealt with separately. More on this below.

#5 Plastics are accepted in some not all roadside projects. A common #5 plastic is a yogurt container.

#3, #4, #6, and #7 plastics are generally not accepted by the roadside recycling program in the United States.

#4 Plastic is the most common film plastic. Think of plastic food packaging, shrink packaging, flexible plastic packaging on products, etc. Soft plastics are not recyclable in the curbside recycling programSometimes, depending on the project, these will also be marked as #2, so please use your judgment. Any transparent film or flexible plastic—such as a shopping bag, or something that can be crumpled into a ball—is considered a soft plastic.

Fortunately, there are still ways to recycle soft New York state (And many others), large retailers are required by law to recycle soft plastic bags and plastic film. You can save your plastic shopping bags, mailing sleeves, non-food-contaminated plastic packaging and sleeves and take them somewhere Here. This also includes newspaper bags, dry-cleaning plastic and plastic film from note cards, tea boxes, pre-packaged cheese, household goods and juice packs. There is no doubt that many other states have similar options. Worth a try.

Because soft plastics are flexible, they take up very little space. You can keep a separate bag or container to collect soft plastics and take them to a retailer or recycling point every few months.

In the United States, there are few recyclers of #6 plastic. Generally, the recyclers of #6 plastic will require that #6 plastic be collected completely separately from all other recyclable materials.

#7 Plastic is everything. #7 Plastics include nylon, fiberglass and PLA materials, which are commonly used materials for making biodegradable cups.

What to recycle?

  • Hard plastic containers: milk cans, water bottles, milk cans, detergent and cosmetic containers
  • Flexible/soft plastics: food bags, cling film, bubble wrap, dry cleaning bags, bread bags, sealable plastic food bags, flexible plastic packaging on cotton balls, paper towels, toilet paper, soda water tanks, etc. note: As part of the community recycling program, these cannot be recycled with other plastics. Look for special soft plastic containers at a grocery store or recycling center.
  • Polystyrene foam: beverage cups, food packaging, takeaway containers, coolers, building insulation materials. This will not be part of your roadside plan, but you can find a drop-off location below.

What to do and what not to do

  • The caps and bottle caps are too small to be recycled on their own, so be sure to leave them on the container.
  • Most community recycling programs do not accept flexible plastics, such as retail bags and cling film. However, you can return plastic bags to special containers in grocery and retail stores. Just make sure not to return the biodegradable bags-these bags are usually green and don’t have a # on the bottom.
  • Polystyrene foam (plastic #6) is now widely recycled. There are currently more than 200 drop-off locations across the country.Click on Here Check if it is available in your area.
  • Although PP or Plastic #5 has not traditionally been included in curbside recycling programs, it is now becoming more recyclable. In addition, many manufacturers provide mailing or delivery procedures for PP.For more information, check this Recycle the database.

5. Electronic Products

Recycling or reusing electronic equipment prevents valuable and potential materials from entering the waste stream.

Check if you can return the recyclables to the retailer or manufacturer, or find an electronic waste collection point in your area.

What to recycle?

  • Monitor
  • Printers and copiers
  • Hard disk drive
  • Mobile phones and tablets
  • Digital camera
  • Hard disk drive
  • keyboard
  • Ink and toner cartridge

What to do and what not to do

6. Household hazardous waste

Special care must be taken when handling products that contain toxic, flammable, corrosive or reactive ingredients. Dangerous household waste is dangerous to people and animals, even fatal, and harmful to the environment. Do not throw them away with ordinary trash, dump them into the sewer or throw them on the ground.

Instead, check the applicable regulations in your community and look for special collection activities or collection centers. Sometimes retailers and manufacturers may also accept them for recycling.

What to recycle?

  • oil
  • paint
  • Cleaning products
  • battery
  • pesticide

What to do and what not to do

  • Minimize the use of hazardous products by replacing hazardous products with more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Bottom line

Recycling is essential. However, we often forget that it is only the third and final element of “reduce, reuse, and recycle”.In order to minimize the impact on the environment and reduce the carbon footprint, please consider adopting some best practices Zero waste campaign Integrate into your lifestyle.

If all this sounds confusing, there are other ways to limit your carbon footprint. Terracycle provides zero waste bins You can put all the items that are difficult to recycle (soft plastics, electronics, foam, etc.) there, and they will dispose of them responsibly.They also provide special boxes, such as all Plastic packaging box, At a more affordable price. This is a small way to the best of your ability.

Shannon Bergstrom is a LEED Green Assistant and a true waste consultant.She currently works at Instant messaging system, A technology-driven waste and recycling management company, serves as a sustainable development operations manager.Shannon advises clients from all walks of life on sustainable waste practices and provides Zero waste.

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