Have you ever stood in front of the recycling bin with something in your hand while you are not quite sure whether you can recycle it. So you throw the item into the recycling and believe that if it’s not suitable, the recycling system can solve it out. Here we will try to explain how wrong we are for doing this. Recyclers have a word for this kind of well-intentioned, but in the long run unhealthy, behaviour: It’s called “wish-cycling.”
You may ask: – What is “wish-cycling“?
The apt term seems to have been coined by Bill Keegan, president of a recycling company in Shakopee, Minn., and it’s loosely defined as “the practice of tossing questionable items in the recycling bin, hoping they can somehow be recycled.”
“Wish-cycling“ it’s extremely common, but also incredibly harmful to the very recycling programs. The issue with wish-cycling is that, although it seems like it’s a great idea, tossing potentially unrecyclable items into your blue bin ends up costing time, money and even sometimes creating far more waste. So, while you think you’re helping out by tossing anything and everything that could possibly, maybe, sort of be recycled into your blue bin, you may actually be dooming literal tons of other, properly recycled, items to the trash.
Here we will try to explain how “wish-cycling“ can be harmful:
Most recycling plants these days rely on complex machinery to sort and process our recyclables. These machines are designed to recognise and appropriately divert a specific set of items. When things like shredded paper, bottle caps or even plastic cling, get tossed in with proper recycling items, it can damage the machinery. The time wasted on fixing clogged machinery and having an entire recycling plant put on pause while the issue is fixed ends up costing taxpayers money — and potentially jeopardising recycling plant operators’ relationship with the commodities market.
“If recyclers bale materials with high rates of contamination, markets will not purchase them, which effectively makes recycling unsustainable,” Lara Rezzarday, spokeswoman for Waste Management in Denver. “In order for recycling programs to be sustainable, it is important that we all maintain material stream integrity and quality.”
Recycling operations work by collecting, sorting and then selling their recycled material. Recycling is typically done in series, and if a non recyclable item works its way in it risks contaminating the entire batch.
For example: when paper products are recycled, they are mixed with water and turned into a slurry. As water and oil don’t mix, the issue is clear. Grease from pizza boxes causes oil to form at the top of the slurry, and paper fibres cannot separate from oils during the pulping process.
Examples of non recyclable products: used paper plates, used napkins, used paper towels, pizza boxes, etc.
What’s a wish-cycler to do? First of all, familiarize yourself with your city’s recycling program and its unique guidelines — almost every program is different. Do a quick Google search, use the Earth911 recycling search, or call your local municipal office if you are having trouble finding specific guidelines. This way you can at last make the most of your ecological intentions and start recycling the proper way for a better planet.
Full article by Madeleine Somerville, in Eart911 at http://earth911.com/living-well-being/wish-cycling/
* PORTUGAL (where Jinja was born) RECYCLING RULES: