Wishful Recycling Must be More Practical in the New Year

Hanna Greer-Brown Hanna Greer-Brown Wishful Recycling Must be More Practical in the New Year
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Editor’s note: this article was written with the help of CU contributor Travis Irvine. Read more of his work here.

As we propel into the new year, many people are aiming to make (and maybe even keep!) new year’s resolutions. While improving yourself or your career or your home life always seems like the first thing on the list, some folks are starting to think of how they could possibly even better the environment. 

After all, as more and more research comes out every year about how the Earth may be heading toward irreversible damage, it’s probably worth looking into how each and every one of us can do our part to reduce our waste, conserve energy or water and all the other little things that, when done collectively, add up and certainly make a difference to our planet.

Case in point — most cities and suburbs in central Ohio have a residential recycling program in which household recyclables are collected by homeowners and placed at the curb for pick-up. Recyclables are then taken to a recycling facility where they’re sorted, baled and sold in order to be made into new products. 

While recycling is good for the environment and helps to support jobs in a green industry, individual recycling practices always have been and still are nuanced. Often, people will think they’re doing the right thing by putting as many potentially recyclable products into their recycling bin as possible. Unfortunately, when you place items that aren’t accepted for recycling into the bin, they can contaminate entire streams of other recyclable materials, potentially causing items that could have been recycled to be sent to the landfill and leading to higher costs for all of us to be able to recycle.

Therefore, it’s important for people to avoid simply tossing trash or items that they wish could be recycled into their bin before they know for sure. 

Franklin County’s residential curbside program accepts paper and cardboard, cartons, metal cans, glass bottles and jars and plastic bottles and jugs. 

When it comes to figuring out which plastics can be recycled, things tend to get tricky pretty quickly. 

The easiest and best way to know which household plastics to recycle is to rely on the shape, not the numbering system on the bottom of the product. Franklin County’s recycling program accepts plastics that are in a bottle shape, meaning the neck of the bottle is smaller than the base. Examples include a disposal water bottle, milk jug or a laundry detergent bottle.

Other plastics like your yogurt containers and grocery bags should not be put in your household recycling and placed at the curb.  Plastic bags can be returned to most grocery stores for recycling and yogurt containers can be taken to Whole Foods and recycled as part of the national Gimme 5 program.

People who recycle in a practical manner can collectively be great for the environment, the economy and even our health in the long run. They just need to know the rules, put in a little extra effort to clean items or save them until they can recycle them properly. And above all, commit to it — what’s a better new year’s resolution than that?

For more information on how to recycle right and make a difference, visit SWACO’s website at www.recycleright.org.

Recycle Right is brought to you by SWACO, Franklin County’s resource for solid waste diversion and disposal. SWACO seeks to reduce the community’s reliance on the landfill as well as meet state mandated diversion goals by providing waste reduction, reuse and recycling programs and services to residents and businesses in 41 central Ohio communities, totaling more than a million people. Last year, Franklin County reached its highest rate of diversion on record – 49 percent. In addition to diversion programming, SWACO is the only Solid Waste District in Ohio to own and operate a landfill and which provides the organization with a holistic and unique perspective on the local waste stream.

For more information, visit swaco.org.

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