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Recycling: Part 2.

January 31, 2009

Now that we’ve taken a look at what happens to the things you take in to recycle (and learned that, yes indeed, it does get recycled) we can move on to the instructory phase: how to take your trash in for recycling.

First you need to examine your trash (not piece-by-piece; just glance at it and see what it’s made of) to find out which of it can be recycled.  Aluminum cans, glass bottles, pop bottles, and milk jugs are all a given.  Cardboard and gloss-free paper (including newspaper) are also good.  Plastic is a bit trickier.  Most of it can be recycled, but not every recycling center is equipped to take every kind of plastic.  To make this simpler, your recycled plastic should be marked with a triple-arrow with a number on the inside.  These numbers range from 1 to 7 and denote the type of plastic used.  1 and 2, respectively pop bottles and milk jugs, are the most common and the most widely supported (as stated above), but 3 and below are a bit trickier to process.

The next thing you should do is find a recycling center in your area and find out which materials they accept.  Many older facilities are not equipped to handle plastics 3-7 and will discard them.  If you cannot find a center in your area that takes these, you are better off to either discontinue purchasing the product that uses those plastics or finding alternative uses for the used containers.

Finally, prepare your trash for recycling.  This is probably the hardest part, as it requires you to segregate all of your trash by composition (metal, glass, paper, fabric, and the various kinds of plastic should all be separate from one another).  Anything that cannot be recycled (paper layered with metal or plastic, plastic that the center does not accept, and any kind of garbage not listed above) goes into its own container for regular trash disposal.  Once you have full sacks of recyclable material – as many or as few as the family vehicle will hold – you’ll need to drive them in to the center.  For convenience and gas savings, this is best done on your way to perform other errands such as grocery shopping.

Once you get it into the center, it’s a pretty simple matter of dropping the stuff off.  Often your things can be deposited outside, but it may be necessary for you to take your recyclables into the building proper.  From there, the center employees take over and you get back to your business.

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