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5 Reasons to Recycle Right

Think of recycling like making an omelet: While it takes effort to carefully crack an egg and empty its shell, it’s much more trouble to pick small pieces of shell out of your breakfast after smashing the whole egg into the pan.

In order to successfully recycle items, different types of materials must be processed separately. Contamination occurs when materials get mixed together: plastic with food residue, paper with glass, cardboard with film wrap. Not only are contaminated materials more expensive to process, but loads of otherwise perfectly recyclable materials can end up in landfills because of contamination.

Today, the percentage of materials diverted away from local Bay Area landfills is around 75 percent. While California has long been a leader in the recycling movement, there are still improvements to be made. The first step is reducing the amount of materials we use and waste we generate. The next is lowering contamination rates in recyclables.

Sometimes good intentions, such as “wishful recycling” — when people put non-recyclable items into the recycle cart with the hope they can or will be recycled — can doom whole loads of materials to landfills, incur hefty costs and damage expensive machinery.

Why You Should Recycle Correctly

While it may seem like an inconvenience to clean out food containers or separate film wrap and polystyrene foam from cardboard packaging, it is impossible at the processing facility. That’s why everyone needs to do their part to ensure local recycling efforts are successful.

  1. KEEP WORKERS SAFE Hazardous materials such as batteries and single use propane tanks can cause explosions, risking the lives of employees on the sorting line.
  2. CREATE SELLABLE MATERIALS Materials like paper and plastic are often sold to over sea manufacturers, but only if the recycling loads are high-quality. Contamination can render loads unsellable.
  3. DECREASE COSTS Picking out contamination at the facility is labor intensive and requires expensive equipment. Nonrecyclable items can also jam machinery and force facilities to temporarily shut down, decreasing productivity and increasing costs.
  4. SAVE RESOURCES Successful recycling reduces the amount of natural resources and energy needed to create new goods.
  5. KEEP RESOURCES FROM BEING LANDFILLED Contamination can send otherwise recyclable materials to landfills. Have an item you’re not sure can be recycled? Don’t be a wishful recycler — when in doubt, check it out with the Mill Valley Refuse service “What Goes Where” tool. It will tell you exactly how to properly dispose of the item.

Recycle Right

  1. Do not put any trash, food waste, yard waste or hazardous wastes in your recycling cart.
  2. Properly rinse items prior to putting them in your recycling cart (see The Contamination Problem for more information).
  3. Use our recycling guide to make sure that the items you put in your recycling cart are actually recyclable. 

Download our Recycling Guide

 

Have an item you’re not sure can be recycled? Don’t be a wishful recycler — when in doubt, check it out with the Mill Valley Refuse service “What Goes Where” tool. It will tell you exactly how to properly dispose of the item.