Happy New Year! Do you have any resolutions this year? Will you get that gym membership? Will you commit to reading more books or learn a new language?
Consider adding a few green resolutions to your list. Add a room in your home to your recycling routine by collecting recyclables in the bathroom, laundry room, home office, bedroom, or other areas where you generate paper, bottles and other recycling. Learn more about recycling to make sure that recyclables stay out of the garbage. Most importantly, turn your “wish cycling” into recycling!
Have you ever tossed an item into a recycling bin that you were not 100 percent sure was recyclable, just wishing it would be alright? Many items are recyclable, but some items that are tempting to throw in your recycling cart are actually problematic at recycling facilities. These can damage equipment or contaminate other materials, lowering the value of recyclables. The Star Tribune took an in-depth look at some problematic items, including plastic bags, food pouches, loose shredded paper, sharps, tires, and more.
Recycle with Certainty
Quit wish cycling this year by refreshing your knowledge of what’s accepted in your recycling program at home. Most haulers accept:
- Glass bottles and jars
- Paper, boxes and cardboard
- Plastic bottles, jugs, cups, and containers
- Metal cans
Check with your city or hauler for a list of materials specific to your recycling program. Also remember that many items can be recycled, just not in your recycling cart at home. Find options at Rethink Recycling.
Plastic Shopping Bags
Plastic shopping bags are one of the hardest materials for recycling facilities to handle as they tangle in machinery, clogging machines and stopping the recycling process for hours at a time. Fortunately, plastic bags can easily be recycled at drop-off locations. Plastic bags are accepted at various retailers including Byerly’s, Cub Foods and Target as long as they are clean and dry. Find additional retailers through the Recycling Association of Minnesota’s It’s in the Bag program. Don’t put plastic bags in residential recycling bins or carts.
You can reuse plastic bags as garbage bags or to pick up pet waste. To limit the amount of plastic bags you end up with, use reusable shopping bags and avoid products with excessive plastic wrapping.
Most likely, there are items in your home that contain batteries. Many household batteries, including small button batteries found in greeting cards and watches, as well as rechargeable batteries contain hazardous materials that can harm the environment if not properly recycled. Their small size makes them hard for machinery to sort at recycling facilities, so they can’t be placed in residential bins.
Find drop-off options for rechargeable batteries through Call2Recycle, and check with your county for additional drop-off recycling options.
Styrofoam, also known as polystyrene, is a petroleum-based plastic that is used in a variety of products like packing supplies, cups and other containers. The only drop-off site for foam blocks is at the Coon Rapids Recycling Center. Limit the amount of Styrofoam you acquire by bringing your own lunch or cup instead of getting to-go boxes or Styrofoam cups. Try out some interesting re-use options including making it into decorations or seedling starters.