Home Recycling Tips

By Adam Rocco

It feels good to recycle. Here are some simple guidelines to help you sort household plastic, paper, glass and metals.

Plastic bottles and household containers-The most common plastics can be classified as either #1 or #2 and these are accepted at most recycling plants. PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) also known as #1, is common to most plastic bottles. Believe it or not, new technologies make it possible to recycle PET plastic for use in modern fabric used for clothing. Be sure to remove caps on plastic bottles before placing them in home recycle bins. HDPE or #2, usually found in household containers is the most-common recycled plastic and is downcycled for durable plastic products such as buckets.

Grocery Bags - Made of #2 plastic these accumulate quickly, get annoying to store, and may not be easily recycled from home. Thankfully, most grocery stores have bins for customers to drop off used and unwanted plastic bags.

Paper - Newspapers should get their own bin. You can rest assured that you are doing the right thing by recycling old newspapers. For every foot stack of newspapers you recycle you are saving an equivalent 10 feet of fir tree. Miscellaneous paper such as magazines, junk mail inserts, flyers, postcards, and envelopes should not be combined with the newspaper bin but can be combined together in one bin. Its OK leave staples in the paper but rubber bands and plastic ties should be removed wherever possible and recycled separately. Also don't include laminated paper, stickers or cardboard in the miscellaneous paper or newspaper bin.

Cardboard is an important recyclable and it is usually a requirement to bale and bind recycled cardboard. You can also check with your local municipality for size and weight restrictions for recycled cardboard.

Glass - Glass is recycled by color (clear, green, and brown) and you can leave paper labels on glass jars and bottles. You may not have known that every glass bottle you recycle saves enough energy to light 100 watt light bulb for 5 hours.

Light bulbs, mirrors, and sheet glass may not be accepted at recycling plats due to different chemical compositions which makes recycling them more difficult. A creative alternative to discarding hard to recycle glass is to use it to make custom furniture or other unique objects.

Aluminum & Copper-aluminum food and beverage cans have a broad range of recycling uses. Beverage cans should not be crushed flat before being sorted. Aluminum foil can also be recycled. Be sure to separate paint cans from other metal cans as they contain chemicals and are processed differently.

For questions about what materials your local recycling plant accepts call 1-800-CLEANUP. Set up storage bins in the garage to make them easily accessible to family members. Label the bins to ensure proper sorting. Clean materials designated for recycling. Think in terms of recycling.