Republic Services Discusses Common Recycling Mistakes on Las Vegas Now

Feb 28, 2018 11:50 AM ET
Blog

We all have the best intentions when it comes to recycling. We put items into our recycling container in the hopes that the item can be repurposed, reused or made into a new item through the recycling process. However, many items should never be put into the recycling container. They are simply not recyclable.

If you find yourself questioning if something is recyclable or not, follow the guidance, “When in doubt… throw it out.” The wrong items, such as a dirty diaper, or a contaminated item, such as a half empty jar of peanut butter, could – or more than likely will – ruin an entire batch or truckload of clean recyclables, such as mail, cardboard or newspapers.

Jeremy Walters, Community Relations Manager for Republic Services, recently hosted Las Vegas Now for a behind-the-scenes look at recycling. Check out the video here.

Here are a couple of recycling tips that you might find helpful:

The Most Common Recycling Contaminants
The most common contaminants that we see in the everyday recycling stream are diapers, yard waste, old clothes or shoes, food, or plastic grocery bags. None of these items are recyclable.

Trying to recycle unclean or unrecyclable materials increases sorting time and slows down the recycling process, damages the recycling facility’s equipment and causes contaminants in the bales of clean recyclables that decreases the value of the items. These items should never be put into your recycling container. Here is a list of the worst offenders…

What Can NEVER Be Recycled:

  • Diapers

  • Tissues, paper towels or napkins

  • Clothes and shoes

  • Yard waste

  • Styrofoam

  • Hardcover books

  • Ropes, chains, cords, garden hoses

  • Plastic grocery bags

  • Food waste

Plastic Grocery Bags
Did you know that plastic grocery bags or thin plastic film are not recyclable items? Plastic bags jam the recycling equipment and contaminate the bales. Try reusing your grocery bags and when ready to discard them, put plastic bags in the trash or they can be returned to your local grocery store. We also encourage the use of reusable grocery bags for trips to the pharmacy or the grocery store.

Is Yard Waste Recyclable?
Yard waste, including tree trimmings and grass or dead plants, cannot be put into the recycling container. Yard waste must go in the trash. That also goes for garden hoses, ropes and other gardening materials as well. Contact Republic Services or your local service provider if you need to schedule an extra yard waste collection this spring.

Pizza Delivery – Are the Boxes Recyclable?
Can a pizza box be recycled? We get this question a lot. The answer is – it depends. Check the pizza box. The bottom of the box is greasy and more than likely too contaminated to be recycled. The grease not only makes the cardboard unfit to be recycled, but will also contaminate other recyclables in your container. Rip or cut the box apart. If the top of the pizza box is not greasy, it’s recyclable. Put the top of the box, if clean and dry, in the recycling container. The bottom of the box with the pizza grease and leftover food needs to go in the trash container.

“Reuse, Repurpose or Recycle” Does Not Mean Everything Goes Together
You’ve heard the phrase, “reuse, repurpose or recycle.” That doesn’t actually mean that everything goes into one container to be sorted or separated out. Items that can be reused or repurposed, such as a pair of shoes or article of clothing, do not belong in the recycling container. If you have items you would like to repurpose or donate, please do so directly. The recycling facility does not separate and collect items to be sent to secondhand stores or charity organizations. Items such as clothing and shoes will end up in the landfill.

Empty, Clean & Dry
Unfortunately, not everything we put into the recycling container is recyclable or it might be, but it’s not ready to be recycled. Sometimes a perfectly good item like newspaper is ruined because other items are wet or dirty. So, what is the proper way to prepare your recyclables for the recycling container? It’s easy – just remember: Empty, Clean and Dry.

Empty the contents (food or liquid) of the container, clean with a quick rinse using only a little bit of water so the item is free of food or other residue, and tap out any remaining liquid to ensure other recyclables like paper are not ruined by remaining liquids.

What Can ALWAYS Be Recycled:

  • Paper – newspapers, paper with staples, envelopes, mail, phone books, brochures, magazines

  • Plastic – water bottles, soda bottles, milk jugs, shampoo bottles, detergent bottles

  • Cardboard – flattened cardboard boxes, food boxes with food and liners removed, file folders, poster board

  • Metal – aluminum cans with food or liquid removed

What can SOMETIMES Be Recycled:

The items below can be recycled, but require a little additional effort to separate the recyclable parts:

  • Pizza Boxes – if clean, the box lid can be recycle. The greasy box cannot be recycled. Toss it.

  • Coffee Cups – The lids can be recycled. If paper, the sleeve can be recycled. And the cup can be recycled.

  • Top Packaging – The cardboard can be recycled. The plastic can be recycled. Both sections need to be separated from each other.

  • Plastic Food Containers – Be sure your recyclables are empty, clean and dry before you put them into the recycling container.