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Everyone knows how to recycle, right? 

Probably you do, but as new materials are invented and enter common use, global recycling technology and purchasing habits shift, and the law changes, things can get tricky. At Diverse, we understand that keeping up with recycling may not be your first priority, but with our help it doesn't have to be. Below are some of the most common myths and misconceptions about recycling and the truths about your trash:

Myth: In New York City you only have to recycle at home.

Truth: New York City has had commercial recycling laws for over a decade, but the city only began enforcing them in August of 2017. Under NYC law, all businesses must recycle. 

Myth: I read a news article that the recyclables that get collected don't actually get recycled. 

Truth: As global markets shift, demand for certain types of materials shift too. This means that the value placed on them may change, and impact what happens to them after you have thrown them away. This does not, however, mean that they will simply be landfilled, but they may find less traditional methods of using the materials, such as using them as construction fill or in waste-to-energy facilities. 

Myth: I see all of the recyclables going into the same truck as the garbage anyway, so it doesn't matter.

Truth: Co-mingling of garbage and recyclables is illegal and can result in a hefty fine for haulers. Likely what you saw was one of two things. Most likely, it was a split bodied truck, which can hold garbage and recycling in separate compartments, and which cuts down on the number of trucks on the road. If it wasn't that, it may have been a case of heavy contamination in the recyclables which rendered them unfit for recycling. On rare occasion, some private haulers may have the capacity to sort the bags at their own facilities.

Myth: I don't have to clean out recyclables, that gets done at the facility.

Truth: You do have to clean out your recyclables! You don't have to scrub it until it's clean enough to eat from, but you do have to empty containers of food and liquid and wipe out any residue with a napkin or paper towel. 

Myth: Styrofoam and plastic bags are recyclable, I saw it in the news!

Truth: While some materials like styrofoam, plastic bags, chip bags, and candy wrappers may be recyclable in theory, they are not recyclable in practice. What this means is that while they are physically capable of being recycled, your local recycling facilities likely do not have the capacity to recycle these materials, and therefore will not accept them in the waste stream. 

Myth: Bottle caps/straws/plastic silverware aren't recyclable.

Truth: These materials are recyclable, but the problem is that they are very small and often fall out of machinery during the recycling process. You can still try to recycle them. 

Myth: I have compostable plastic/paper service ware, so its recyclable!

Truth: This material is only recyclable if you have certain organic recycling programs. It cannot be recycled with traditional streams of recycling, and unfortunately must be otherwise disposed of in the garbage. It is also often believed that if they end up in a landfill that they will break down just like they would in a compost pile or other organic recycling process, but this isn't the case. Unless you have an organic recycling program, these materials cannot be recycled. 

Have you heard a myth about recycling? Have you been given contradictory information about what you can and can't throw out? Drop us a message at and we'll do our best to answer your questions!

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