Recycling is a good habit that most people have now embrace. However, not so many people are keen on general rules governing recycling or wonder what does residential dumpster rental cost? When you do not understand these rules, you recycle what is not acceptable, which in turn contaminates good items during processing. One common but wrong recycling habit is wish recycling.
Wish cycling causes chaos in the recovery sites since a lot of work is needed to separate what is unacceptable from recyclables. In most cases, wish cycling is done out of good intentions, where you want to recycle something you have used over the years. We have prepared this guide to help you understand wish cycling and how to go around it.
What’s Wish Cycling?
Wish cycling is where you recycle items that should not be recycled out of good intentions, hoping the recycling center will process them. This leads to contamination of good recyclable items during processing, causing material wastage and financial losses.
Wish cycling also involves recycling accepted recyclable items but in bad conditions such as dirty containers with food remains.
Effects of Wish Cycling
- Leads to the Creation of More Waste: wish cycling leads to contamination of recyclables. Hence, items that the recycling center could otherwise process further to form valuable products are discarded as waste.
- Increased operational cost: when items that cannot be recycled, such as plastic bags, shredded papers, and scrap metals, enter the recycling machinery, they damage it. Money is used to fix the equipment, not to mention that trucks need to be fueled to transport non-recyclables that have been identified to landfills.
- Time wastage: more time is wasted when equipment is jammed by plastic bags or shredded paper. This delays the process, and production efficiency is reduced.
- Too much labor: the process is labor-intensive as the workers are forced to separate non-recyclables from recyclables.
Common Wish-Cycled Items
These are materials that are not accepted for recycling, but people often confuse and end up subjecting them to recycling. These items are excluded because the equipment available cannot process them as they can cause the separation machine to jam or contaminate recyclables leading to reduced quality.
Everyday wish-recycled items include:
- Plastic bags: plastic bags cause the processing machinery to jam and clog when collected with heavier rigid recyclable plastics. Repairing the processing machinery costs a lot, and because of this, you should not mix plastic bags with recyclable plastics during trash removal.
- Scrap metal: several scrap metals are not accepted for recycling since they cause severe damage to recycling equipment. These include copper, brass, iron, and steel. Lead or anything containing lead, such as cathode ray tubing found in computers and lead-acid batteries, is highly unacceptable for recycling.
- Shredded or colored papers: shredded papers are not accepted for recycling by most facilities because they make sorting out complex- the tinny papers stick on other items. The small papers eventually clog the processing machinery causing it to jam. The recyclability of fiber depends on its strength and length, and since in shredded papers, the size and strength is reduced, they become hard to recycle. Colored papers are also not accepted in many facilities because the papers usually undergo heat treatment, removing the dye. The dye stains other uncolored papers, reducing their quality.
- Frozen food or take-out boxes: frozen food and take-outs boxes are not accepted for recycling since the special coating makes them waterproof, rendering them non-recyclable.
- Certain glasses/ceramic: Items made of ceramic, such as coffee mugs, are not recycled because they do not melt down when subjected to heat. The machinery required to crush ceramics into useful sizes is expensive, and this procedure is not economically feasible. Ceramic and some glasses may break into sharp pieces that injure workers at the waste facility; a reason why they are highly unacceptable.
- Lids on glass containers: Lids on glass containers are primarily plastic and are not accepted for recycling since they are hard to recycle. Even though metals are accepted for recycling, you should not mix metal caps with glass, and they should be separated into a different bin or be thrown away.
Tips to Improve Recycling Habits and Avoid Wish Cycling
- Learn materials that are recyclables and those that are not: It is good to learn and know materials that generally can be recycled and those that cannot. Having this information at your fingertips is essential as it will guide you and ease your selection process when decluttering.
- Learn your local recycling rules: even though the general recycling rules apply in most cases, some change depending on local authority and equipment available for processing the materials. Please consult your local authority or check on their website to know what’s acceptable and exceptions that have been made.
- Keep items dry: It is hard to recycle soggy wet papers, and hence you should keep them dry and keep other items dry to prevent the papers from getting water from them. Any soggy items, including diapers, cannot be recycled, and you should throw them in the trash.
- Keep items clean: clean all your containers and bottles to prevent contamination which is the leading factor for not recycling recyclables. For papers, remove all contaminated parts with food, oil, and grease, or otherwise throw it all out.
- Learn about the different plastics: Not all plastics are recycled, and hence you should understand those to recycle and those you cannot. Rigid plastics: those labeled with 2, 3, or 5 at the bottom are for recycling while the rest are not. To avoid wish cycling, do not recycle a glass you are not sure of the type.
- When in doubt, throw it away: While recycling is important, not all material can be recycled. Even though you are environmentally conscious, you will be required to throw some items into your trash. Combining non-recyclables with recyclable leads to contamination, and hence if you are ever in doubt, the best thing to do is throw the items away.
- Compostable does not mean recyclable: Compostable plastics are not like regular plastics, and they are only disposed of in certified composts. You should not recycle materials labeled as compostable.
- Keep them loose: You should not bag your recyclables or tie them. Keep them loose to make the separation process easy and prevent contamination from the bag material.
Recycling is a complicated process that is dictated by price determinations, market demand, and local regulations. The success of recycling depends on the consumer, waste collector, and recycling factory worker. Consumers play a significant role since they largely influence the quality of the final material.
Learning good recycling practices goes a long way in ensuring high-quality materials are obtained from the recycling process and avoiding the negatives effects of wish cycling. Learn what’s recyclable and what is not so that you can ease this process and ensure contamination of recyclables is minimized.