Recycling is important. You hear it all the time--from the hallways at work to the daily news. However, recycling isn't just about putting plastic bottles in the recycling bin or re-using plastic bags in your home.
There are various important steps you should take to ensure that your recycling efforts are actually bearing fruit. Here are four best practices that maximise the efficiency of your recycling efforts.
1. Make sure it's clean before placing it in the recycling bin
Recycled waste is different from regular waste because the containers can only be recycled when clean. This means that you should carry out the extra step of rinsing out plastic bottles, plastic containers and cans before recycling. Heavily soiled plastic and cardboard will be of no use during the recycling process.
2. Don't mix recyclables with regular waste
This may sound obvious, but many people who don't have dedicated recycling bins tend to dump their recyclables along with regular waste. Once these two types of waste have been mixed, it becomes very difficult to sort them out from the same container.
Some people place their recyclables in a clearly labelled bag, after which they dump it inside a regular trashcan. This practice may also cause your recyclables to be overlooked if the waste disposal company doesn't carry out thorough sorting. Your best bet is to use dedicated bins for recycling and for regular waste.
3. Remove lids from plastic bottle (but don't remove the labels)
To ensure that as much of your plastic bottles as possible are recycled, a good practice is to remove all lids before placing bottles in the recycling bin. Lids trap air inside the bottle and can cause it to deform when undergoing recycling. Trapped air also forms a breeding ground for bacteria, especially when there's moisture inside the bottle. You can avoid these challenges by removing the lid or by squeezing out air from the bottle before replacing the lid.
To further save yourself some time, you don't need to remove labels from plastic bottles containers or cans. These can be easily removed during the sorting and recycling process.
4. Don't shred paper before recycling
While shredded paper can be recycled for many different purposes, it's better to leave the shredding decision to recycling professionals. Leave your sheets of paper in their full size and place them in dedicated bags.
Some recycling centres struggle with shredded paper as the pieces are too small for sorting. By shredding, you may be limiting the scope of use of the recycled paper down the line.