Contaminated Recycling Materials

Contaminated Recycling Materials

In recent years, the quality and amount of recycling has been reduced due to contamination. Recycling carts, bins, and dumpsters get filled with non-recyclable items every day. Contamination occurs when:

  • Non-recyclable materials are put into a recycle bin.
  • Recyclable materials contain too much food wastes.
  • Recyclable materials are put into a recycle bin in the wrong manner, for example, in a plastic bag.

Why is Contamination Bad?

When a certain percent of a batch of recycling is contaminated, the whole batch of recycling is considered unusable and thrown away. Contaminated recycling materials end up in landfills.

What Can You Do?

To avoid contaminated recycling:

  • Check that the material is recyclable. Contact your recycling hauler to determine what materials they can recycle. Just because an item has a recycle symbol on the bottom, does not mean it will be accepted everywhere.  
  • Rinse jars, bottles, and cans that have visible residue in them. A quick rinse is usually adequate.
  • Throw away heavily soiled items.
  • Do not put food wastes in recycle bins. Food wastes should be put in the trash or in a compost pile.

Recycling is Required

Municipal and state regulations require that residents, commercial establishments and non-residential establishments recycle all recyclable materials.  Commonly recycled materials include:

  • Paper – newspaper, office/copy paper, glossy paper, color paper, cardboard, junk mail, phone books, cereal/cracker boxes
  • Plastic – bottles and jugs No. 1-7
  • Glass – clear, green and brown containers
  • Metal – aluminum, steel, tin, and bimetal cans and containers

You should check with your hauler for a complete list of acceptable recyclable materials.