I recently visited the Boulder County Recycling Center and learned the ins and outs of proper recycling technique. The recycling center asks for all of our help in making the process run as efficiently as possible. Please feel free to share!
Here's a video from Boulder County Recycling Center's website offering an in-depth look at the single-stream recycling process:
- Plastic Bags: DO NOT PUT THEM IN RECYCLING!!! Take them to your local grocery store that has a plastic bag recycling program. Plastic bags are the biggest problem at the Boulder County Recycling Center. They get wrapped around the machines and all the machines have to be turned off 4 times per day to cut the bags off the gears and thrown away. Don’t bag your recyclables, just dump them loosely into the recycle bins.
- Shredded Paper / Small Paper: NOT RECYCLABLE! This paper is too small to sort properly, and takes man power to pick out and throw away at the center. It can be put in compost.
- Plastic Caps: ONLY RECYCLABLE IF SCREWED ON TO THEIR PLASTIC CONTAINER! If they are separate, they are too small to sort properly. If they are a different material (for example, a plastic cap on a glass bottle), throw the cap away.
- Aluminum Cans: GOLD IN THE RECYCLING WORLD!! Uses 95% less energy to create a can from recycled aluminum than to extract new. Aluminum cans are the most recyclable materials and can be continually made into new cans, indefinitely! Leave cans in an uncrushed state for easy sorting.
- Plastic Containers under 3” Tall: NOT RECYCLABLE! They are too small to sort properly the machines think they are paper because they are so thin and light. Your large plastic container that holds spinach or lettuce at the grocery store is recyclable (as long as the lids are hinged, they are recyclable too, but if the lids come off they need to go in the trash), but the smaller ones with blueberries/raspberries/blackberries need to be stacked together to equal over 3” in height to be recyclable. You can wrap a rubberband around them to hold them together.
- Starbucks cups, Chinese food containers, Whole Foods Salad Bar container, etc: NOT RECYCLABLE! These containers are all lined in plastic and go in the trash. The reason why Silk cartons broth containers are recyclable is that the company actually takes them back to recycle them in house! What great corporate responsibility!
Check out Boulder County Recycling Center’s website for a few comprehensive videos on how to make the most of this fantastic resource: http://www.bouldercounty.org/env/recycle/pages/recyclingcenterfacts.aspx