Things you thought you could recycle - but can't!
By Nikita Grosser
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Cosmetics: An Environmental Hazard
Cosmetics are a huge industry and only one out of five women today use no cosmetics whatsoever.GO!
Make a trashion statement
A new form of recycling known as fashion recycling is becoming popular among the environmentally consciousGO!
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Here is a list of a few other items which cannot be recycled
• Styrofoam and packaging supplies- it is best to reuse these items.
• Gift wrapping paper- this is poor quality paper which is not accepted by recycling centers. Most paper that is coated in wax, aluminum, or plastic is also not accepted as the recycling process is too expensive.
• Pizza boxes and take away food boxes- are not accepted by recycling centers as the food can contaminate the recyclable materials and wet, greasy cardboard can jam the machines.
• Plastic credit cards- cannot be recycled due to the kind of plastic it is made from.
• Mirrors- are not accepted as the chemicals in this type of glass cannot be mixed with glass bottles and jars.
• Shower curtains and liners- made from PVC which is not accepted by recycling centers because when it is melted down it can contaminate the chemical makeup of the recycled material.
• Deodorant Sticks - The plastic dial on the bottom of the stick is not recyclable therefore recycling centers will not accept these items.
• Wipes (Napkins and paper towels) and Sponges - any kind of cleaning cloth is not accepted because of the cleaning chemicals which still maybe present on the cloth.
• Sticky notes- Their size, color, and the adhesive strip make them a better bet for the trash bin
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Recycling is something that all of us should practice regularly, but not many of us do. It’s an easy way to become more planet-friendly and keep from over filling our already full landfills. Those of you who recycle regularly must already be aware of the stuff that can be reused and thus are very careful about what you put into your recycle bin.
But did you know that sometimes some of the stuff you unknowing toss into the bin may cause problems for your local recycling plant? Here are a few things you should know about what can and can’t be recycled and ways in which you can make sure that whatever goes into your recycle bin can be more easily and efficiently recycled on reaching its destination.
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One major problem faced by recycling centers is caused by plastic bags. These packets get caught in the machinery so workers have to remove them one at a time before hand this may have adverse effects on their health as tearing open the bag may lead to them being exposed to potentially dangerous substances this also wastes a lot of time. It is a costly and time consuming process and these plastic bags usually land up in landfills anyway. Thus avoid putting your recyclable items into plastic bags when tossing them into the recycle bin. Remember to remove bottle caps from bottles; the caps have a different melting point from the bottles they come with. The bottles maybe recyclable but the caps are not. Sealed containers are major hazards of recycling facilities as well. These
may contain liquids or may even be empty in which case it may cause problems in the compressor as the lid locks in air. This should be done with recyclable metal lids as well. Keep in mind the caps can go in the trash and the bottles can go on to be recycled. However the small ring around the bottle’s neck need not be removed, these are small enough not to cause problems.
Frozen food boxes are another cause for concern as these boxes come with a thin layer of plastic spread onto the paper to prevent freezer burn, the polycoat prevents the fiber inside from breaking up in the recycling process. Many recycling centers do not accept these boxes as they contaminate the pulp supply. Aseptic cartons also cause a lot of problems when it comes to recycling. These cartons are usually used for storage of beverages like soy milk etc, and helps in keeping it free from microbiological organisms that would lead to spoilage, fermentation, or contamination. These containers are designed to store beverages on shelves at room temperature the cartons usually have a layer of foil as well as plastic coating which makes it hard to separate the materials to be recycled. Most recycling facilities reject these cartons. However, regular milk and juice cartons made from paper are recyclable, since they don't have the additional coatings.
Many forms of glass are not recyclable. Drinking glasses and flower vases are some examples. This type of glass is intended to withstand reuse as the melting temperature is much higher than single-use glass. The sturdy glass remains solid as the other type melts and contaminates the product. (See Box for details)
Shredded paper also causes problems at the recycling centers, these tiny shreds of paper may slide through the cracks and into trash piles or clog up the machinery thus it is always best to keep your shredding to a minimum. However shredded paper can be easily composted. Paper which has been exposed to water or wet paper are also less valuable to paper mills which makes it unprofitable to collect and recycle. Thus composting is the best option here as well.
Some ice cream containers may have a small triangle on the bottom but it may not necessarily mean it is recyclable. Remember to check the numbers inside the triangles the recycling centers will only accept those which are recyclable. Soda bottles and the like and, thicker plastics like milk jugs and detergent bottles - are the most commonly recycled. Try to avoid tossing toys or any other form of unmarked plastic into the recycle bin.
The best way to clear your doubts about what can and can’t be recycled is to call your local recycling center. By following the guidelines provided by them you can help save transportation and labor costs as well as reduce the amount of rubbish that goes to our landfills. However if the stuff you want to recycle are not accepted by recycling centers and is still in good condition you can choose to recycle for free on freecycle.org, it’s an online group sponsored by Yahoo! which allows members to offer free stuff, request for wanted items, and respond to other members’ requests. But if this option is not suited for you, you can donate the stuff you don’t want anymore to goodwill or charity this in turn helps by keeping it out of our landfills. And gives you that “feel good” feeling that you have contributed to protecting the environment.