Recycling is something we all like to do to help the environment – everyone is on board with the yellow lid recycling bin now and the reduce, reuse, recycle phrase has become part of common lingo. That said, there are some unanswered questions about recycling that we are going to get down and tackle right here on the ripple effect this National Recycling Week (November 7 to 13).
Do I need to wash items before I put them into my recycling bin?
It’s not a necessity, the items will be washed at the recycling plant. If you wash your dishes in the sink, once you have finished you can rinse the recyclables with the remaining water, this will also keep your recycling bin from becoming too stinky.
Do I leave lids on or take them off?
This is a tough one – because they are small, lids can get stuck in the machinery during the recycling process. Having to stop the machinery to remove any of these items can be extremely time consuming and expensive. If a lid is left on a plastic bottle, the built up pressure can cause the lid to shoot off, which causes all kinds of chaos. The best thing to do with lids on plastic bottles is remove the lid; let all the air out of the bottle; then replace the lid tightly. Glass bottles will get smashed up eventually so the metal lid can be left on (it will be removed from the broken glass with magnets).
Other items that can cause problems with the machinery are larger, more irregularly shaped objects, like old saucepans or coat hangers. There are metal recycling facilities that can deal with larger metal products but these are separate to your weekly household recylcing.
Can plastic bags go in the recycling bin?
No, they will get all tangled up between the machinery and other recyclables – so make sure you reduce the plastic bags you use; remember those green bags when you head down to the shops.
What paper is suitable?
All paper products can be recycled (but if you are taking the junk mail straight out of the letter box and dumping it into the recycling bin, it’s probably time to get yourself one of those ‘No Junkmail’ signs).
Are there regional differences?
Recycling can differ from town-to-town so if you aren’t sure about something, make sure you contact your local council – they will usually have information about recycling on thier website. Alternatively there is a Recycling Hotline operated by Planet Ark with operators who can talk you through all of the dos and don’ts about recycling.
Recycling & Climate Change
Recycling materials can also help you to be carbon neutral as a recycled item requires a lot less energy to produce than one that’s created from scratch. Recycling a single aluminium can will save enough energy to run your TV for three hours – now there’s some serious incentive to recycle.