So you want to recycle. That’s a good impulse. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, not only does recycling save energy and reduce pollution, it also creates hundreds of thousands of jobs per year and billions in tax revenue. Even for the not-so environmentally conscious among us, recycling is a no-brainer.
However, there is a way to do recycling wrong. According to USA Today, recycling non-recyclable materials can force recycling plants to more or less shut down their operations while they fish the garbage out of their machinery. Forcing plants to do this by recycling sloppily makes it less financially feasible to run a recycling operation. We want to make everyone a good citizen of the recycling world so we can continue to stuff those bins, save energy, and work toward a cleaner planet for everyone. Here are five materials that are often mis-recycled. Watch out for them!
1. Pizza boxes
This one may be surprising because cardboard—out of which most pizza boxes are made—is practically the consummate recyclable material. But as the folks over at HGTV explain, the grease absorbed by cardboard boxes affects the process of making cardboard into new materials. So don’t let pizza boxes trip you up! Don’t mis-recycle them, throw them away and make recycling better for everyone.
2. Saran wrap
Think it’s good to recycle plastic? You’re right! Just not this kind of plastic. According to Rebin, a sustainable design company, Saran wrap “can jam the machinery used to recycle plastic, costing time and money.” Think of where your recycled plastic wrap goes, and you’ll be much less likely to mis-recycle it.
Batteries today can be thrown out with your trash because they do not have as much mercury as those before 1997, when new mandates to phase out mercury were passed. But if you come upon older batteries or feel environmentally conscious about causally tossing them out, there are various recycling options from which you can choose. Older batteries contain heavy metals, so letting them rest in landfills is a long-term environmental risk for us all. Take batteries to a local facility that’s dedicated to recycling batteries and check out Call 2 Recycle for their recycling programs.
4. “Paper” cups
Ever wonder how paper cups are made to hold hot beverages, but are also recyclable? Unfortunately, only one of those two things is true. Most paper cups are made out of a non-recyclable plastic. Don’t get tripped up and mis-recycle them.
5. An Apple 1 computer worth $200,000
According to the pop culture site Konbini, a woman mistakenly tried to recycle an extremely rare, extremely valuable piece of tech history. This doesn’t have much to do with saving energy, but, um, don’t be like her!