(415) 457-9760 Mill Valley Refuse Service 112 Front Street San Rafael, CA 94901
Contamination is the term used to describe anything that renders your recycling non-recyclable. Recycling contamination also increases labor costs at processing plants as workers try to separate materials. Contamination typically occurs when:
Let's take a look at each of these in a little more detail.
Sometimes in our desire to be "green" we get overzealous with what material can actually be recycled. Please pause before you throw all that packaging into your recycling bin and consider what portions of that item are really recyclable. For example: While your frozen food tray may be marked as recyclable, the plastic film that covers it is not. If you throw the whole thing into your recycling (after rinsing it) and do not remove the plastic film, that is considered contamination and it's possible it will not be recycled.
If you do not properly rinse or clean your recyclable food containers, that food will spill out either in your cart, in transit to the facility, or on the line at the recycling facility resulting in contaminated paper items. When paper products get covered in food waste, they are rendered contaminated and non-recyclable. Please take the extra step to properly rinse your food containers before putting them in your recycling can/cart.
It's tempting to bag your recyclables, but please do not. Bagged recyclables are not accepted in recycling facilities and will most likely be tossed into the trash. Don't do all that work sorting and cleaning your recyclables only to send them to landfill!
In this short video, our friends at Marin Sanitary explain how contamination can ruin your best recycling efforts.
Visit our Recycling Services page to learn more about what items can and can't be recycled.