Can I Recycle This? Americans Worry They Are Recycling Trash

More than half of Americans do not know how to recycle, and it’s kind of a big deal. According to this new study commissioned by Covanta, 62% of Americans worry that they are recycling incorrectly, and this statistic is both extremely worrisome and disheartening to hear – especially so soon after Earth Day.

According to the EPA, recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, conserves natural resources, increases economic security by tapping a domestic source of materials, prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials, and saves energy. This only works, however, when we don’t throw “soiled” materials in with our recyclables. If enough soiled material makes its way into a recycling container, the load is considered to be contaminated and will be sent to a landfill.

Recyclable

  • Paper: office paper, newspaper, brown paper bags, magazines, junk mail, phone books
  • Plastic: plastic bottles and containers:
    • 1 – PET: Soda bottles, oven-ready meal trays, water bottles, etc.
    • 2 – HDPE: Milk bottles, detergent bottles, spray bottles, etc.
  • Aluminum (don’t forget to bring your scrap metal to BIG’s Brenham location)
  • Cardboard
  • Glass: cleaned bottles and jars
  • Empty aerosol cans
  • Wrapping paper
  • Construction lumber/trees
  • Your old car (BIG offers Auto Crushing services)

You can check whether or not an item is recyclable using the universal recycling symbol – three arrows chasing each other in a triangle. Plastics will have a number inside of this recycling symbol which will help you identify plastics which can and cannot be recycled.

Non-Recyclable

  • Some papers: wax paper, used napkins and paper towels, dryer sheets
  • Plastics without a recycling number (mentioned above): trash bags, Ziplock bags, bubble wrap, cereal box bags, plastic wrap, plastic store bags, candy wrappers.
  • Tempered glass
  • Propane cylinders
  • Lightbulbs
  • Ceramics
  • Textiles and clothing
  • Pillows and blankets
  • Electronic waste
  • Medical supplies
  • Paint

(Bonus Round!) Tricky Non-Recyclables

Even when we’re being vigilant, sometimes thing slip through the cracks and we end up recycling items which seem or would be recyclable, but are not.

  • Greasy pizza boxes
  • Unwashed aluminum
  • Unwashed plastic bottles
  • Styrofoam – this one can be extra tricky because some styrofoam will have the #6 on it.
  • Hangers – plastic and metal

If you have any questions about what you can recycle, feel free to give us a call at 979-260-0006.