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It has the recycling arrows and a number on it, so it should be recyclable, right? Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Items are labeled with the recycling arrows are recyclable in theory, but that doesn't mean that they are recyclable in your local recycling systems. Meaning that while they could be recycled, simply putting them in the regular recycling at your home or office isn't enough to get them where they need to go, and will likely land them in a landfill or incinerator once they are sorted from the material that can be recycled. Here are some common culprits that make it into the recycling bin, but which belong in the trash:

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An Explanation:

Coffee Cups: Coffee cup lids may be recycled, and the cardboard sleeves they come with can be recycled, but the cup itself is garbage. In order to make sure that your coffee doesn't leak through, the cups are often lined with plastic that makes the paper unsalvageable from a recycling perspective. 

Chip Bags: Chip bags are made of too thin a plastic to be sorted in most material recovery facilities. However, these may be recovered under some supplemental programs. Ask a Diverse representative about how you can set one of these up!

Compostable Silverware: Unless you have an organics recovery program that specifically accepts these, compostable plastics in general are not recyclable. The material that makes them compostable means that they cannot be processed with other rigid plastics, and unfortunately, they don't break down in landfills the way that they do in compost piles or other organics processing methods. These belong in the trash.

Compostable Takeout Containers: These look like paper, but because they are food soiled, they cannot be processed with paper. Just like compostable plastics, these cannot be recycled unless you have a specific program that accepts them. 

Plastic Bags: Plastic bags are not recyclable unless you have a specific take back program. If you do not have one, you can set one up, or bring them back to most large grocery chains to be recycled through their programs. Unfortunately, these flimsy plastics are a huge source of landfill material, and often rip and clog the machines at material recovery facilities, causing huge delays and costly repairs. Worse, because they are so light and catch the wind so well, they often float away from people and trash piles and end up tangled in trees or at sea, where they can cause terrible ecological damage. The best thing to do is avoid single-use plastic bags by using your own reusable bag, or to bring them to a take-back to have them recycled. 

Granola & Candy Wrappers: Like chip bags, these are not recyclable because the plastic is too thin. However, many manufacturers have take-back programs, and special supplemental recycling programs exist to recycle these materials. 

Tissues & Napkins: Soft paper, like thin plastic, cannot be recycled, even when free of contamination. These are garbage, though if they are only food-soiled, they may be recycled in an organics recycling program. 

Plastic Packaging Bubbles: Plastic packaging bubbles. bubble wrap, cling wrap, and other film plastics are not recyclable for the same reasons that plastic bags are not recyclable. Where possible, reuse them for shipping, but where not possible, dispose of them in the garbage. 

Want to set up a supplemental recycling system at your workplace? Reach out to Diverse today!

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