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  • Susan Wineland

Recycling Resolutions

Considering some New Year’s resolutions?  Think about incorporating more and better ways to recycle. We can all start by learning our local recycling rules and making sure that we all comply. One of the worst things we can do is wishcycling. That’s when we optimistically put non-recyclable objects into recycling bins. When we do this we contaminate all of the otherwise recyclable material.

Contamination is one of the biggest problems with the recycling process. When recyclable material is contaminated, it renders the whole load useless which means it becomes trash and goes into landfills. Not only does the contamination negate other people's efforts to recycle correctly, the fee for trash hauling is costly for towns and taxpayers.  Make everyone’s recycling efforts pay off by not contaminating any recycling home or store blue bins, or the transfer station recycling trailer.

What are Some Common Contaminants in Recycling? 

Plastic bags are the number one contaminant. Plastic bags act as tanglers, getting caught in machinery equipment and shutting them down. That would include sandwich type bags of any size, bubble wrap, and plastic wrap which all are prime candidates for commercial drop-off areas. You can drop off plastic bags at store bins especially dedicated to that purpose and/or the Orange Transfer Station plastic bag shed. So don’t include any plastic bags in any recycling container and don’t bag your recyclables!

Small items can also cause machines to go awry. Don’t recycle anything smaller than a credit card. This includes straws, bottle caps, coffee pods, plastic cutlery, paperclips, and many other tiny things that creep into our daily lives. These objects are too small to be sorted and can jam the recycling equipment. Plastic caps go back on the bottle but not metal bottle caps which can be taken to companies that take scrap or should be thrown away in trash. Plastic straws are also too small and too often end up in the environment posing a hazard to fish and other animals.

Food waste can also send an entire load of recyclables to the landfill.  Food also leads to odors and attracts rodents. Clean and dry your recycling materials. You can compost at home with one of many types of composting systems. Or, take your food compost to the Orange Transfer Station green compost bins. Do keep them out of landfills. Not only do food wastes weigh a considerable amount, they produce methane gas, a potent pollutant which contributes to the forming of ozone, decreases air quality, and leads to various health issues in animals and humans.

Enlist everyone in your family and make the habit a convenient process. Know the rules of recycling and be conscious of what you throw into the recycling bin. If we all endeavored to recycle wisely, more materials could and would be recycled and not end up as waste in a landfill. Now that would be something to celebrate!


For more information about recycling, visit .    

Article originally published in the Milford-Orange Times.


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