3 Ways to Recycle Smarter

Here at GTECH, we help turn waste into something useful.We jumped at the chance to see one of the most popular ways people do this: recycling! On Monday, we toured Waste Management’s Greenstar Recycling Center with Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse. If you are a Pittsburgher or a resident of Allegheny County, you know all of your recyclables go into one big, blue bin. This is called single-stream recycling. After touring the facility on Neville Island, we came away with a few pointers on how to make the most of the your reusable waste.

Bags — forget about ’em!

You heard right, bags disrupt the sorting process. They get caught in sorting machinery, causing machines to jam and be shut down for removal. It’s best just to throw all your recyclables into a large, blue container. If you must use bags, make sure that they are blue or clear plastic bags specifically for recycling. The only thing you ALWAYS want in a recyclable bag is shredded office paper.

Small items, big problems.

Plastic items that are smaller than two inches in diameter shouldn’t be placed into the recycling bin. Why? These items are so small, that they fall into the wrong containers during the sorting process and contaminate whole bales of recyclables. These items include: small prescription bottles, loose bottle caps* and plastic utensils.

* Bottle caps are recyclable if they are tightly screwed on to the original, crushed container.

One greasy pizza box spoils the whole bale.

Well, not exactly.The more food or liquid in a recyclable container when it is thrown into the bin, the less value it will have once it’s processed. Dirtier bales of recyclables don’t sell for as much, because more time, energy and manpower is needed to recover them into a usable end product. So take that extra step and eat that last piece of pizza or scrape that last bit of yogurt out of the container.

Want more tips and tricks on recycling? Check out Waste Management’s video on how to recycle smarter.

2 thoughts on “3 Ways to Recycle Smarter

  1. Thanks for the tip that plastic items smaller than two inches shouldn’t be placed in a recycling bin. I didn’t realize size played a role in the sorting process of recycling, and small items can mess up bales of recyclables. In taking care of what I have, I think that I’ll work with recycling services to make sure everything is sorted properly.

  2. Thanks for elaborating on the different ways that you can recycle around your home and business. I had no idea that using bags was so detrimental to the process of sorting your recyclables. My mom has been trying to get a recycling plan going at her house; I will be sure to share these tips with her.

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