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What Can I Recycle In My Bin and What Is The Rest Of America Doing?

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What Can I Recycle In My Bin
What Can I Recycle In My Bin

Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2016
By: J.P. Mascaro & Sons
Categories: Recycling

Clearing up the confusion as to what you should place in your residential recycle bin in the 21st Century and how well Americans are doing with recycling today

Believe it or not, Americans have been researching the rewards of residential recycling since the early 1970’s. Yep. It’s a fact. Nixon was (still) president, the first Earth Day was observed, the Environmental Protection Agency was created, the Public Broadcasting System started its storied history, and the first recorded mass recycling program – "Ban The Can" – was conceived and executed by Ruth "Pat" Webb in Honolulu, Hawaii.

On that date, Webb expertly organized military and civilian volunteers to collect more than nine tons of metal cans from the roadways of Oahu that were later recycled into steel reinforcement bars used in local construction projects. That, my friends, is an awful lot of Primo beer, a bit of Coca-Cola, and an amassing of Spam (the food, not the email intrusion). Spam was first introduced to the Hawaiian islands by American soldiers during World War II when the manufacturer provided cans to American and Allied troops.

Today, Hawaiians consume the most Spam of any culture in the world, about four million cans annually to be precise! Its popularity is certainly due in part to the famed 1970s Monty Python skit of the same name, currently with more than seven-million views (and located below for your viewing pleasure)!

Okay, so… sorry for the massive (though historically-significant and article-relevant) video distraction. Back to the task at hand: What exactly can be recycled curbside in your bins on a weekly basis, and what is the rest of America doing to step it up?

Single-Stream Recycling

Fortunately, facilities like TotalRecycle in Pennsylvania exist in the 21st century to make this entire process a whole lot easier to wrap your head around (Ms. Webb would most certainly be pleased indeed)! This groundbreaking, state-of-the-art single-stream recycle facility contains cutting-edge technology that allows for the precise sorting and processing of recyclable materials. The 75,000 square foot facility accepts all items capable of being recycled, including but not limited to: plastics #1-7, cardboard (OCC), aluminum, newspaper (ONP), clear and colored glass, steel, tin, e-waste, aseptics, cartons and electronics.   

Glass

Clear, green, or brown bottles and jars (food and drink only) can be collected. Remove all caps and rings. Please rinse before placing in container. Glass bottles and jars are 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without any loss in purity or quality. In 2013, 41.3% of beer and soft drink bottles were recovered for recycling, according to the U.S. EPA. Another 34.5% of wine and liquor bottles and 15% of food and other glass jars were recycled. In total, 34% of all glass containers were recycled, equivalent to taking 210,000 cars off the road each year.

Paper

Materials that are collected include newspaper, magazines, advertising inserts, catalogs, junk mail, envelopes, waxed paper, paper bags, phone books, and wrapping paper (remove metallic paper, bows, etc.). Place all paper in a heavy brown bag or tie together with twine. Do not use wire or plastic bags. About 67 percent of newspapers / mechanical papers were recovered in the U.S. in 2013.

Cardboard and Corrugated Paper

Cardboard boxes and items such as cereal boxes, tissue boxes, and gift boxes can be collected, as well as milk and juice cartons. Please flatten cardboard. Over 85 percent of all products that are sold in the United States are packed in cardboard. Approximately 89 percent of corrugated cardboard was recovered for recycling in 2013.

Cartons

Milk, juice, soup, flavored drinks and aseptic cartons are recycled in some areas.  Please check with your municipality.  Carton recycling access has grown a remarkable 177 percent over the last 5 years, starting at just 18 percent in 2009 when the Carton Council was first formed. Today, more than 58.3 million households can recycle cartons either via curbside programs or drop off facilities in the U.S.

High-grade paper

Manila envelopes, file folders, fax and copy paper, and computer print outs are collected for recycling. Please place in paper bags or box (no plastic bags). Paper accounts for about half of all recyclables collected in the US, by weight. About 43-million tons of paper and paperboard were recovered in 2013, a recovery rate of about 63 percent.

Aluminum Cans and Foil

Rinse cans and place in the recycling container. They may be flattened or left intact. Labels do not need to be removed. Foil must be clean. The aluminum industry pays out more than 800 million dollars a year for recycled cans. The U.S. industry can recycling rate is approximately 67 percent.

Steel & Bi-Metallic Cans

Any food container such as coffee cans or soup cans can be recycled.  Steel food cans are the most recycled food package. 600 steel cans or tin cans are recycled every second. More than 1,500 food items come in steel cans. Items like, yes: “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam… Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam”. But please do rinse thoroughly before recycling (rinse Spam cans twice)!

Tagged:Green, Recycle, Recycling, Sustainability, Environment, Evironmental Responsibility, Earth, Planet

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