What you previously learned about recycling may not be correct.
Like any industry recycling technology, accessibility and requirements can change over time so it’s important to keep up to date to support recycling in your community. Here are some of the common myths debunked.
1. Recycling goes to landfill anyway
Some people don’t think it’s worthwhile to recycle because they believe everything placed in recycling bins goes to landfill. This is incorrect.
The main reasons waste goes to landfill is due to lack of segregation and contamination. Contamination occurs when people place the wrong items into recycling bins. An example of contamination would be putting food waste in with dry recyclables. Contamination can damage recycling equipment, be hazardous and become difficult to sort and separate.
To ensure as many items are recycled as possible, waste management companies and recyclers like DGrade are working with businesses, schools and communities to increase recycling through education and awareness campaigns.
DGrade focuses on the segregation of plastic at source to ensure maximum recyclability. Plastic is a resource so it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure as much plastic is recycled as possible.
You can help ensure recyclable items don’t go to landfill by educating yourself, family and colleagues on what can be recycled and placing these items in the correct recycling bins.
2. If you think it can be recycled place it in the recycling bin
Not all items can be recycled – even if it’s made from plastic or some type of paper. As mentioned above one of the biggest problems recyclers face is contamination in recycling bins. Contamination means the wrong types of items are placed in the recycling bin. This can include juice cartons placed in recycling bins meant for plastic or paper only. Items like juice cartons contain both paper and plastic coating and are not recycled so they need to go into the rubbish bin.
People commonly place all types of plastic into recycling – however not all plastics are recycled. There are in fact 7 types of plastic but only a few are usually recycled. These include PET (or type 1) plastic, the most easily recycled material. Other commonly recycled plastics include PP (type 5) plastic and HDPE (type 2) plastic. Check the bottom of the plastic item to see the recycling symbol and number before placing items in the recycling bin.
Other types of plastic (eg. PVC) and electrical items may also be recycled with specialist recyclers. Do not place these items in generic recycling bins, rather search online and contact these recyclers directly.
If you are unsure whether something is recyclable place it in the garbage bin – not the recycling bin. Make sure to check with your community or workplace waste management company to understand what can be placed into the recycling bin – this will ensure items in the recycling bins can be recycled. Remember that recycling may vary by location!
3. Recyclables need to be scrubbed
Food and oil residue can cause contamination in recycling bins however you don’t need to scrub your recyclables clean. Simply empty all liquids and food remains, rinse the container if possible, then place it in the recycling bin.
Most residues can be cleaned off during the recycling process.
4. Recycling takes up more energy than making something new
Recycling can be much more efficient than making something new. Recycling metals can save 75% or more energy, glass up to 15% energy, 40% for recycled paper, and 50% or more for plastic. Greenspun yarn uses 50% less energy compared to making polyester yarn from raw materials.
When less energy is consumed, the amount of fumes (or emissions) released into the air by powerplants is reduced. Less emissions means less greenhouses gases are released into the atmosphere. Greenhouses gases contribute to global warming and need to be reduced to ensure a healthier environment and sustainable future.
5. Plastic is recycled into lower grade single-use products
Technology has improved in the last decade, so this is no longer the case. Though some suppliers may choose to downcycle plastic other recyclers upcycle plastic into products that can be reused. DGrade for example upcycles PET 1 plastic into Greenspun yarn to make high quality clothing and accessories which can be worn over and over again.
It’s important to understand that recycling plays an important role in sustainability. Recycling saves waste from going to landfill, saves resources and energy, and reduces carbon emissions.
Help increase recycling rates by participating and advocating for recycling. To learn more about all types of recycling contact your community/property management or your local waste management company.
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