Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bone Up On What's Recyclable

My dog has been taking me on daily around-the-block tours of our neighborhood. It allows him to catch up on the latest canine comings and goings in the 'hood, and every two weeks I get to take a reading on the state of recycling in town. Basically, people need to bone up on what's recyclable and what's not. I see a lot of (pardon the sports analogy) Hail Marys getting thrown into the recycling bins, that is, stuff that should be recyclable but which in our imperfect world could actually cause problems at the recycling plant. So let's get our recycling chops together, and learn what goes in the recycling bins, and what has to go in the trash.

Here are a few common mistakes, followed by some links to useful websites:

DON'T put your recyclables in plastic bags! Put them loose in the bins. Paper can be stuffed in paper bags.

DON'T try to recycle those wide-mouthed plastic containers, like yogurt cups, flower pots or folding salad bar containers. They may say #1 or #2 on the bottom, but if they don't narrow at the top for a small lid, they aren't recyclable. For details on all this, scrutinize the photo in Mercer County's brochure of Common Recycling Mistakes

DON'T recycle pizza boxes of any kind. The delivered ones are greasy. Frozen food boxes look clean, but have something in them that relegates them to the trash.

Styrofoam belongs in the garbage. Check township website for more info.

DON'T recycle toys. They either get a second life via a yardsale or meet their ignominious end in the trash can. I have an idea for a Fix-It Museum in town, where refugees from the throw-away society get to see real people fixing things for re-use, but that will have to wait.

No light bulbs! No glass other than bottles and jars. The glass in drinking glasses is apparently different from bottle glass. To recycle florescent bulbs, which contain traces of mercury, check the websites below for dropoff locations.

For recycling afficionados, here are a few extra tips:

  • Metal and plastic lids are recyclable, but take them off before putting them in the bins.
  • A few of those windowed envelopes won't hurt, but as a whole, the windows need to come out.
  • Washing containers before putting them in the bins helps keep odors down, but I recently heard that the process of melting down recyclables for reuse burns all the impurities off.
Check out in particular the Mercer County brochure. It's got PICTURES!

Everything That Can and Cannot Be Recycled, From A to Z
(As encyclopedic as it sounds)

What To Put in the Yellow and Green Buckets

Princeton Recycling Pickup Dates

Mercer County Brochure With Picture of Common Recycling Mistakes (One-page picture that's good for printing out. The one inaccuracy on it is that bottle tops are in fact recyclable.)

Mercer County General Recycling Info

Thanks to Princeton Township's Janet Pellichero for helping with this post.

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