How to Recycle the Correct Way

Recycling is a great way to reduce your landfill input. However, recycling can be tricky to get right. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to “contaminate” your recycling. Contamination occurs when a non-recyclable item is placed in your blue bin with recyclable items, rendering the entire bin unusable. For example, if someone placed a glass or plastic bottle into a container with cardboard, the entire box cannot be recycled. Another form of contamination is when a to-go food container isn’t properly cleaned of its leftovers and the food gets onto other items. Contaminated recyclables are sent to landfills with other garbage!

Although this process is more difficult than it seems at first, ECOmersion wanted to compile a list of best recycling practices to make sure that your recycling actually makes it to a facility and turned into new life. Get ready to learn how to recycle the correct way!

1) Follow your municipality’s rules

Each municipality only handles certain goods. Look at their list of acceptable items before tossing an item into your blue bin.

The city of St. Petersburg (where we launch our kayak tours from) accepts all colors of glass, aluminum, newspapers, and cardboard. They will not accept plastic bags or Styrofoam.

2) Don’t put food and drinks in your bins

Make sure to rinse your to-go containers and plastic coffee cups out before tossing them in your recycling bins. This greatly reduces the chance of contaminating your recycling bin.

3) Know which items are not recyclable

How to Recycle Saran Wrap
Saran wrap cannot be recycled!

Flimsy plastic items like saran wrap and grocery bags are not recyclable. Take care not to put these in your bin. Recycle these items in the recycling boxes found at your local grocery store!

Do not put your recyclable items in a plastic garbage bag. There should only be free range bottles in your bin.

Paper cups with wax coatings should not be recycled.

4) Invest in reusables to ensure you minimize your waste footprint as much as possible

The best way to do your part to help the planet is to reduce your use of single use plastics and papers. Make coffee at home, or bringing a reusable cup to a coffee shop (when it is safe to do so again)!

Swell water bottles are a great alternative to single use plastic bottles!

5) Recycle your food waste

Composting (CLICK HERE FOR OUR HOW TO COMPOST AT HOME POST) is an easy way to recycle your food waste into nutrients for your soil. Many local gardens will accept compost to help their soil retain their nutrients if you don’t have a garden at home.

6) When in doubt, throw it out

Items like glass are not as easily recyclable as plastics. These items are more resource intensive to recycle. Therefore, these items are best thrown in a garbage bin (or just not used altogether).

Residents of Hillsborough county can take a pledge here to reduce your waste and do your part to join the fight against single-use plastics. If you live elsewhere, look for a locally based way to reduce your footprint and learn how to properly recycle.