Non-Recyclable Item of the Month: FOOD

Non-recyclable items frequently end up in the recycling bin, causing a slew of problems. In this regular feature, we will focus each time on something that is NOT recyclable.

For this first-time installment, we’re gonna focus on the number one problem in our recycling on Orcas Island: FOOD WASTE.

enzos-recycle-can-03There should be absolutely no food or liquids in your recycling. None. Items that are generally accepted as recyclable are deemed non-recyclable when they are contaminated with food. Jars, bottles, cans, plastic containers… everything needs to be emptied out and rinsed in order for it to be recycled. Clean the recycling? Yes. Clean the recycling. If you don’t, it is as good as garbage and will be treated that way by waste management facilities.

Also, food-soiled paper products are not recyclable. That means no pizza boxes, no paper coffee cups, no napkins, no paper towels, and no paper plates. Pizza boxes, although made of highly recyclable corrugated cardboard, are deemed non-recyclable if they have been contaminated with grease, oil or food. There should be no trace of food in your recycling!

This holds true when you are recycling in public as well as at home. The picture of a recycle can featured here was taken at a local coffee shop in Eastsound in January 2016. Notice the presence of many paper products in the can that are not actually recyclable. Wasting valuable time and resources, many businesses that are kind enough to provide a recycling receptacle are forced to sort through their recycling and remove the non-recyclables the public has intermingled. Please do your part to help, and learn what items are (and are not) appropriate to recycle.

REMEMBER: Contaminated recycling ends up in the landfill and can also contaminate your neighbor’s clean, well managed, recycling—deeming it unrecyclable! Don’t let your recycling efforts go to waste. Take an extra moment and recycle right!