Most recycling centers request that you to rinse out your recyclables before you put them into your bin for recycling. But what happens if you don’t?
If there are a few drops of soda in a bottle, a few small corn kernels in a can or some stray pieces of cereal in the bottom of a box, it shouldn’t be a problem to get these materials recycled.
If, on the other hand, there’s enough peanut butter or mayonnaise on the inside of a jar to make another sandwich, recycling centers may turn away the whole truck load due to contamination.
Contamination is traditionally thought of as being filth or pollution rather than food, but in the recycling world, it is defined as being “non-recyclable items that are mixed in with recyclables items or when recyclable items are placed in the wrong recycling bins. Too much contamination is the reason manufacturers reject tons of recyclable paper each year.”
This is where it gets a little confusing with a gray area. Some residue on some types of commodities will be ok in the recycling process such as liquid in glass bottles or jars or even a few bits of food left in a steel can. Because of the processes these types of materials go through to be recycled, the food or liquid will be burned off or evaporated.
Paper and cardboard are very different. Any grease or food left on such things as pizza boxes (the biggest offender) could render the whole load contaminated. Paper and cardboard go through a process where it is chopped up and churned with water to make slurry. The food and grease don’t mix with water, therefore making the whole load unacceptable.
When in doubt, for best results give recyclables a quick rinse to make sure they are free from food residue and paper and cardboard containing any amount of food or grease is considered a trash item.
For more information on recycling visit www.wasteawaygroup.com