Chico, Calif. – Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough recently explained how changes in the way China is accepting US-generated recycling waste is reshaping costs and habits for local recycling companies as well as consumers.
Oftentimes change can be confusing. To help sort through the issue of recycling and how to properly sort, Yarbough reached out to Paradise-based Northern Recycling & Waste Services, to learn more about what we should and should not place in our recycle bins.
Action News Now met with Jennifer Arbuckle, the Recycling and Public Outreach Coordinator for the company. During a ‘show and tell’ walk-through of the facility, she shed light on some of the biggest mistakes consumers are making.
Arbuckle says she often finds items that people mistakenly think are recyclable but are not. It seems that even with consumers’ good intentions, many are sorting incorrectly.
Items which are found quite often which should not be in recycle bins are plastic tarps, which Arbuckle says show up more than she would like to see.
What items *can* be placed into recycling bins? Glass, paper, aluminum, tin and some types of plastic. It sounds simple but making sure to understand what types of plastic can be difficult, as well as understanding which items should simply be placed in the trash.
Arbuckle explains that many people place items in the recycle bin that are more suited for a second-hand store or trash, not recycling.
The other big mistake she says she sees, is consumers who do an excellent job in sorting and cleaning recycling items, such as glass jars and aluminum cans but then, putting all those items inside a plastic bag. She says this is probably one of the biggest misconceptions. She explains that if items are inside a plastic bag, the time it takes for crews to open the bag and inspect the contents, is not efficient. In most cases, because plastic bags are not recyclable, the bag, including the recyclable contents, will more than likely be placed with trash.
Arbuckle also points out that with many people completing so many online purchases, that the amount of packaging we receive has increased. She reminds consumers that while the cardboard boxes most items come in is recyclable, the plastic or Styrofoam filler; is not.
Another big items she says she sees in recycling piles is empty pizza boxes. Again, while the cardboard can be recycled, only the clean portion is allowed. The portion of the box with food debris is not permissible. And now, with more stringent restrictions of the contamination levels allowed for recyclable waste to be shipped to China, it is more important than ever to only recycle clean materials.
A rule of thumb is to remember which items cannot go into recycling, and that includes plastic bags, Styrofoam, any kind of sheet plastic, tarps and hoses; none of those items are recyclable.
When it comes to recycling, the consumers’ role is crucial in not only how we throw things out but what we choose to purchase. Arbuckle believes if consumers altered purchasing habits and asked manufacturers tough questions about why they are making something that is not recyclable nor compostable, it would force a change.
She says, “If we don’t all purchase single-use disposable items, they (manufactures) would stop producing them.”