Given our current technology we’re not able to recycle everything, unbelievably. Good intentions aside, some items simply just can’t be salvaged, and even worse, some items can actually cause more harm than good by going through the recycling process. While it is true that technology is becoming more and more sophisticated every day, sometimes it can’t be helped, and you will need to dispose of some items into landfills. The following article is a list of common household items that you should never recycle, complete with full breakdowns explaining why they should avoid the recycle bin, and more importantly, whether or not it’s worth trying to compost them or to simply toss them into the trash.
I Thought You Could Recycle Bottle Caps!
As shocking as it may seem, the caps from your bottles of water or soda actually aren’t recyclable, and the reason may be surprising. Indeed, many caps can be recycled on their own, however on the inside of both metal and plastic caps you’ll find a thin coating of plastic. If you were to melt those down, you would contaminate the entirety of the batch. The thing to keep in mind when it comes to recycling is that all materials must be separated before melting down. If you didn’t, then the material you retrieve from the process can’t be used. It’ll either be too weak, too brittle, or too malleable. This idea will continue to present itself throughout the article, so keep it in mind as you continue reading.
I Thought My Makeup Was Recyclable
Despite the current market move to use non-toxic materials in beauty products, many companies still continue to include very toxic materials. Products such as Perfumes, hair products, lipstick, and foundations are amongst the group that are still considered hazardous, and thusly are unable to be recycled. These products can be unsafe for the environment, as well as spread illness within a community, due to the carcinogens and hormone disrupting ingredients.
If you need to get rid of unwanted beauty products then you’ll want to contact your local disposal service and provide them with as many details as possible about the product you’re trying to dispose of. The more information they have, the more accurately they can dispose of the material properly. It’s better to over share details than to be vague. For example, many perfumes don’t list their ingredients on bottles, so it may need to be disposed of in an entirely different manner.
This doesn’t mean that all parts of these items are non-recyclable. Plastic and glass containers can often still be recycled, in spite of the toxic materials found inside them. It’s important not to pour these products down the drain, so if this is the course of action that you wish to take, be sure to dump the contents of the product in the trash (as much as you can), and from there clean the container. It’s best to hold off on going to the sink for as long as possible, since you don’t want to pour toxic chemicals down the drain. A paper towel or an old hand rag is more than enough to clean these bottles for recycling purposes.
What to do With Old Take-Out Containers?
What makes up a pizza box? Cardboard. Chinese pack boxes? Also cardboard. Do you know what these things have in common? Contaminants. Think back to the bottle caps section, when we discussed the problem with mixing different materials. Food waste is not an exception to that. You can scrape off all the meat scraps, cheeses, and rogue noodles possible, but you’ll still be left with a bunch of grease and fatty acids that are soaked into the cardboard. If you were to try to recycle that, the resulting material would once again unusable, and therefore sent to the landfill. Currently there is no effective way to recycle any paperboard type product that has come in contact with food. It is worth mentioning that many paperboard food products these days are compostable, meaning that you can safely discard them into a compost or even a trash can with less impact on the environment overall.
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How Do You Recycle Styrofoam?
You made find that styrofoam (also known as Expanded Polystyrene, or EPS) is a fairly hot topic, and has been for a while now. Because it’s a synthetic material that easily breaks down, many people believe it’s just as recyclable as plastic or paper. Many also believe that it’s alright to simply burn EPS.
When under the right conditions styrofoam is, in fact, recyclable. You may find your recycling is being thrown out if you put styrofoam into it because recycling companies can’t just melt it down with the other materials, and they don’t have the time nor the resources to pick through everyone’s recycling for it. As if this wasn’t complicated enough, only a few types of styrofoam are able to be recycles, and the rest must be thrown out. Only the PS 6 styrofoam is able to be recycled, and it will be marked on the backs of all the pieces of styrofoam. No PS 6 symbol on the back means it can’t be recycled.
It can be dangerous to burn styrofoam at home. Deadly carbon monoxide and black carbon are released into the air when polystyrene burns. Not only is this bad for the environment, but it’s also an immediate risk to you and anyone nearby the burning styrofoam, as carbon monoxide poisoning is likely to occur. Nearly 30,000 people a year are hospitalized from carbon monoxide poisoning, and nearly 500 people a year die from it. With that said, it’s best the disposal is left to the professionals.
However, there are other alternatives to recycling Styrofoam. For example, companies such as Publix, located in the southern part of the USA, allow for donations of styrofoam so that they can reuse it for their own products that they’re packing. You should get online and look for one of the many other companies throughout the nation that offer similar programs. If you are unable to locate a local business that has such a problem then you can contact your local recycling plant for a no-trouble drop off, and they’ll dispose of it for you.
Recycling Shredded Paper
As strange as it sounds, there’s a good reason for shredded paper to be another hot topic in the world of recycling. It isn’t so much a problem regarding the environment as it is the actual logistics of using shredded paper. An individual american will use an average of 7 trees a year on paper products, but out of all recycled paper, only around 66% of it is reusable. Many companies will refuse to take shredded paper because it’s so difficult to recycle, and even those that do will often require you to separate it into clear bags.
The short and sweet of it is to not shred paper. Of course, given that most shredded paper involved sensitive information that need to remain hidden, this is a bit unreasonable. Knowing all of this, you should avoiding shredding anything that doesn’t contain important or private information, such as account numbers, card numbers, and anything with your social security number. Doing this will minimize the amount of shredded paper that’s created, and recycling plants can get the most out of the process.
Should I Recycle Juice and Milk Cartons?
It’s often thought that juice boxes and milk cartons are able to be recycled. Texture wise they appear to be similar to cardboard or paper-like materials. In truth, they are. These items are around 85% paperboard. The big problem is that both juice boxes and milk cartons contain a thin lining of plastic on the inside, which is also known as Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE #4). It prevents the contents of the container from dissolving the walls of it. You may destroy all your hard recycling work if you carelessly toss your juice boxes into your recycling, as it may then be all tossed away.
Many companies these days have addressed this problem by switching their products to purely plastic materials. Buying strictly plastic bottles of juice and milk is the simplest solution. Though it may mean using more plastic, the best way to recycle is to cut out the middleman in the process, and in this case that means cutting out your use of these harmful boxes and cartons. Don’t forget, if we want to keep things from ending up in the landfill then we have to keep materials separate so they can be reused later on.
Are Diapers Recyclable?
Given that the average diaper can take up to 500 years to fully decompose in a landfill, many people want to find a way to recycle the item and cut down on clutter that can so easily overwhelm landfills. Once again, it is a matter of logistics. Most diapers contain both paper and plastic materials. As well, you’d have to remove all possible contaminants from the diapers to ensure the remainder of the plan stays clean and functioning. Recycling a diaper currently has no safe and realistic solution to it.
There are other ways to dispose of diapers, however! Thanks to the massive market for these items, eco-friendly diapers are currently widely available. They spend less time in a landfill thanks to the high decomposition rate.
How Do You Recycle Ceramics?
Typically ceramics are made from clay that has been heated and shaped. Known as sinter, the process involves partially melting the materials used, then allowing them to cool and solidify together in order to maintain their shape. It can be said that it’s a similar process to glass. The thing is, being similar and being the same are two different things. Ceramic is not recyclable. If you break a mug or a plate then you’ll have to toss them in the trash, because ceramic is not an easily salvaged material. It should be said that you might be able to compost your ceramic pieces, depending on how much clay there is in them.
You can try personally reusing your old pieces of ceramic instead of sending them to the landfill, given that you can’t recycle them. You might be able to make a small plant pot from a mug that’s lost it’s handle by sanding down where the handle broke off from. You might also try using broken pieces for arts and crafts projects, such as creating a mosaic. You might even be able to file down the ceramic and use it for gravel.
What Should I Do With My Plastic Bags?
Plastic bags are a big problem. Plastic bags, after plastic bottles, are one of the worst offenders with regards to our landfills, oceans, and national parks. However, these too, cannot be recycled. Recycling plants won’t accept them because they can too easily damage equipment, getting stuck in either the gears of dump trucks and other machinery, potentially causing some serious damage. There’s a fairly simple solution to this issue: Don’t use plastic bags. Due to the lack of effective recycling methods regarding them, the only other way to remove them from the environment is to remove them from use. Since both paper and reusable bags have risen in popularity, only luxury is a reason to continue using plastic bags. To reduce your carbon footprint, help the environment, and cut down on overall production costs for businesses, one of the easiest solutions is for you to buy several reusable bags, store them in your car, and have them at the ready whenever you next go shopping.