Specific Classes of Materials

Welcome back to rethink the bins best practices for recycling and composting. I hope you took the quiz that’s part of this course. How old did you do? Do you remember what I’ve taught you so far? If you want to review any of the previous lessons, feel free to do so. Otherwise, we’re going to jump into lesson five and look at specific classes of materials. Okay, let’s dive in and look at specific classes of materials. I’m going to talk about four different types of materials here that you will commonly see in your household waste stream. In my upcoming book, rethink the bins I cover 10 different classes of materials, but today we’re just going to look at plastics, glass, metal and paper. I start with plastics Which are one of the most challenging types of materials to recycle. And there are various reasons for this. But it really comes down to the challenge of technology and economics that I mentioned in an earlier lesson. Many types of plastics can technically be recycled. But the problems with sorting and the low cost of plastics combined with high contamination rates, meaning food residue, trash, non recyclable materials, stuff that doesn’t belong, all those things combined to make plastic recycling a big challenge. I’ve got a photo here with this is a table from my new book. The different numbers you’ve seen these different numbers one through seven, on your plastics and they come with A friendly triangular thing that looks like a recycling symbol. But it doesn’t mean that the material or the object is recyclable. The number simply means what it’s made of. So you can take a look at this one through six are specific types of plastic. Some of them are almost always recyclable. Some of them are never recyclable, and in some cases, it depends on shape. And that’s because at the murf, the sorting equipment, sometimes sorts by shape, they identify things like milk jugs, and water bottles and yogurt tubs that are recyclable. And if it’s something that the system can’t identify, it tosses it out, and it will often end up in the landfill. So you’ve got to look at the guidelines in your city to determine whether the items are recyclable. Sorry, but the numbers He is not going to tell you the answer. Let’s take a look at some of these common things. These are all different types of plastics. Which of these items belong in your bin? You’ve actually got a look at the rules in your city. I’ll give you a clue. That plastic bag around those apples does not belong in the curbside recycling bin. It’s type four, which is a technically recyclable material, low density polyethylene these plastic films, but it clogs up the equipment. When I toured my local facility. They told me that several times a day they have to stop the equipment because a plastic bags clogging up the gears. So please do not throw those plastic films in the recycling that tray in the top right No, not too good because most systems will toss it out because it doesn’t meet their shape requirements. No, I know some people want to just throw their hands up, I’ve got that comment of saying, Oh, you know, I’m not going to put anything in because I don’t trust the system. I don’t know what’s going to be recycled. That’s not necessarily the best approach either. Because if you put in the stuff that really will get recycled, and leave out the stuff that won’t, we’ll have a cleaner recycling stream, the materials will be worth more and they can actually get processed to make new goods. I mentioned in the lesson on composting about compostable plastics. So these are made from plla. poly lactic acid. If you look at the numbering, it’s part of number seven other write other is anything that isn’t numbers one through six. Usually the cups will have some type of symbol on them, or labeling that indicates that they’re compostable. And this is again this is a plastic that is made from agricultural products made from renewable resources it says here on the label for these. But sometimes you got to look at the labels carefully. And I talked about industrial versus backyard composting. These kind of cups are only acceptable in industrial compost facilities where they can be ground into tiny pieces that will eventually degrade if you put a whole cup like this, or those plastic forks and spoons that are listed as being compostable into a backyard compost bin. You’re gonna still see them there years later. I’ve got a PDF I’ve put together with five minutes about recycling, and most of them have to do with plastics. So I’ll give you a hint. If you just put everything into the blue bin because it might be recyclable, you’re contributing to the contamination problem. And number five has to do with paper we’ll get to paper and a little bit later. Next glass. Glass is definitely recyclable. But now I’ve got a list of states here and what those states are, are states in the US that have bottled bills, meaning you can return glass bottles of beer soda, sometimes wine, sometimes jars from pasta sauce, it depends on what is accepted, but you can then get a rebate on that material. So you pay the fee up front when you buy it from a store. And then you can turn it in and get a rebate and that’s list of things. states that have those. If you don’t live in one of those states, then you can’t participate in that kind of program. Glass is often accepted in recycling. But some communities have stopped accepting glass recycling, because there’s no nearby processing facility and trucking it for hundreds or thousands of miles across the country is really expensive because last is heavy. So, if your curbside recycling accepts glass fantastic, if it doesn’t, and you’re not in a bottle bill state, unfortunately, you may be out of luck. Now metal, metal is recyclable the metal that we see usually as part of cans and from canned food. clean it out. Okay, clean and dry is a good policy for all types of food containers. Whether it’s plastic, glass or metal rinse it out, wash out greasy food, shake it dry and then you can put it into your recycling bin. For metal, sometimes the lids can be a problem so small lids can get lost. If you remember back in less than two I showed a photo that was supposed to be all glass and had bits of this and that, that includes tiny plastic lids, tiny metal lids that fall through the screen. lids need to be separated out unless they’re a large enough size generally, or you can crimp them inside containers. That’s another way. Now let’s take a look at paper. Most papers, recyclable, the stuff you get in the mail, cardboard packaging all those cardboard boxes from your mail order things but some things may not be Because they include plastic. For example, coffee cups often have a plastic liner and unless they’re listed to specifically accepted in your curbside recycling, they probably aren’t. And paper mailers if it’s all 100% paper, great recycle it, but sometimes they have plastic inside them a bubble wrap kind of layer that protects the stuff inside, but it makes the envelope non recyclable. And store receipts are often coated with plastics. If the store receipt looks shiny, sorry to say, but it doesn’t belong with the recycling. It has to go in the trash. In this lesson, we covered recycling for four different types of material, plastics, glass, metal and paper. There are of course a lot more items in household waste that are technically recyclable, for example, clothing and batteries, but these do not generally go into your curbside recycling bin. So I didn’t cover those. But overall, the materials that are recyclable, they meet the conditions of being able to be processed into new materials, being able to be sorted recycling facility and having an end market. And so that does include certain plastics may or may not include glass depending on where you live. And we’ll always include plain paper and metal. If you want to review any of the information in this lesson, before you go on to the quiz to see if you know what to toss were. Go ahead and review this or any of the previous lessons.