Recycling 101: What Can & Cannot Be Recycled

 

By Alexandra Booth

recycle-logos-1We all want to do our part for the environment by reducing our use of resources, reusing products instead of throwing them away, and, of course, recycling. Recycling reduces the need for landfills, can prevent pollution and saves energy. However, there are some common misunderstandings when it comes to recycling that need to be addressed.

It was believed that you must remove the cap to your plastic container before recycling it, but this is only a myth. Caps are recycled when not separated from the bottles during the process. All of the others pass through a 2-inch screen. They are then labeled as recycling residuals and are transported to a waste-to-energy facility. This also applies to metal bottle caps. If separated from the bottle during the process, they are collected by a magnet and then recycled.

Speaking of plastic, there are seven different types, all which have the numbers one through seven on the bottom of the product. While most public recycling centers do not accept products with a three or five on the bottom, Hillsborough County accepts all plastics for recycling. 

The introduction of the blue recycling carts provides single stream recycling, which allows for all of the recyclables to be mixed. Aseptic containers have been added to list, which include milk jugs, soup containers and juice boxes. Plastic film has also been added. Some items that can’t be processed are soiled paper products, light bulbs and glass windows, mirrors, dishes and cups.

These blue carts have helped make recycling easier and, therefore, more people have participated.

“The transition to automated collection has increased recycling tonnage in Hillsborough County by more than 70 percent and almost doubled participation rates,” said Andrea Roshaven, Community Relations Coordinator at Hillsborough County. So, when you’re preparing your recyclables, keep these things in mind:

-Wash containers and cans to keep the recycling cart clean.

-Flatten corrugated cardboard boxes.

-When recycling plastic bags, packing, and film, bundle them into a single bag. Loose plastic bags can damage the sorting equipment and be costly.

-Don’t bag other items; toss them into the cart.

Make sure to research when your area’s recycling is picked up during the week. For more information on what can and cannot be recycled in Hillsborough County, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/ index.aspx?NID=1253. If you’re interested in learning recycling facts or playing an education game, visit iwanttoberecy cled.org.