The Environmental Protection Agency says the average American generates about four pounds of trash per day – and we recycle about one-third of our waste.
But some of the things you put in your recycling bin are likely still ending up at the landfill.
Read more: How to recycle your old technology for cash
Can this be recycled? Here’s how to tell
Atlanta Magazine went behind the scenes at a materials recovery facility, where recyclables are processed before being sold to companies that use the materials.
It’s a big business, but contamination is affecting the sale of recyclables.
These materials can be worth a lot of money, but buyers are only interested in them if they are high-quality – and that’s where all of us can help out.
What can be recycled
The National Waste & Recycling Association says the following items are most widely accepted at recycling facilities:
- Food boxes
- Beverage cans
- Food cans
- Glass bottles
- Jars (glass & plastic)
- Plastic bottles and caps
But as Atlanta Magazine reported, even glass is ending up at the landfill due to an oversupply, which we can only hope is a temporary, localized issue.
Things you should not recycle
Meanwhile, there are common mistakes that can lead to contamination.
One thing you should never do is put recyclables into a plastic bag. It’s a problem because the bags can cause the machines at the recycling facility to stop working.
Instead, take your plastic bags to the grocery store and recycle them there.
Also, greasy pizza boxes are trouble. You can recycle the clean top of your pizza box, but you want to throw away the bottom half in the trash.
And when recycling plastic containers, rinse them first. This will make them more valuable.
By the way, the Association of Plastic Recyclers says you don’t need to remove plastic bottle caps before recycling. In fact, it’s better to keep the cap on.
If you’re not sure whether something can be recycled, don’t do it. Check to see what your community accepts before you toss something into the recycling bin.
Click here to read more about the recycling options where you live.