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The process of turning used materials into new products in an effort to prevent waste and aid the environment.

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Recycling is made simpler when you know what you can and cannot recycle

  • Mar 7, 2010
  • by
As you probably know, recycling is the processing of used products for the purpose of creating new products.  This reduces waste and can reduce pollution and other negative impacts to the environment.  Everyone can recycle what they use, but what can and cannot be recycled may not seem clear to most people.

Below is a good guide on what usually can and cannot be recycled by your curb-side recycling service. Your local recycling center may be able to recycle more items for you.  If you have a curbside recycling service contact them for a listing of what they will accept.  If you do not have curbside recycling service find the recycling center nearest you by using Earth911.com's Recycling Center search.


The following MAY be recycled:

  • White ledger paper: computer, copy machine and typewriter paper; white ledger pads, adding machine tape
  • News Quality Papers: newspaper, phonebooks, wide-lined news print
  • Folders: manila, colored and coated folders
  • Mail: letters, brochures, advertisements, magazines
  • Correspondence: legal pad paper, colored paper and message sheets, self adhesive notes, index cards, fax paper
  • Envelopes: with or without windows, with labels, colored and coated
  • Computer paper
  • Brown Papers: brown envelopes, brown grocery bags, cereal boxes, beverage cartons, grey cartons and clean pizza boxes (without grease)
  • Cardboard Boxes: broken down into 3 feet by 3 feet sections
  • White ledger paper: computer, copy machine and typewriter paper; white ledger pads, adding machine tape
  • News Quality Papers: newspaper, phonebooks, wide-lined news print
  • Folders: manila, colored and coated folders

The following MAY NOT be recycled:

  • text books, candy wrappers, pizza boxes, Styrofoam egg cartons; dirty plates, cups or napkins; facial tissue, paper towels


The following MAY be recycled:

       Examples: soda, milk, detergent, shampoo & small-mouth bottles

The following MAY NOT be recycled:

        Examples: plastic plates, utensils, cups, some grocery bags or toys


The following MAY be recycled:
  • clear, brown, green and blue glass bottles and jars in which food products are packaged

The following MAY NOT be recycled:
  • window glass, drinking glasses, light bulbs
        Examples: aluminum, bi-metal beverage cans; steel food/tin cans; empty aerosol cans



The following MAY be recycled:

  • aluminum, bi-metal beverage cans; steel food/tin cans; empty aerosol cans

The following MAY NOT be recycled:

  • paint cans, coat hangers, steel scrap, batteries

Where I live (Louisville, Kentucky) and in most other cities in the U.S. the above list is what can and cannot be recycled by curbside recycling.  In other cities (San Francisco, for instance) more materials can be recycled.  Contact your curbside service or local recycling center to find out what they will recycle.  Again, to find the recycling center nearest you, go to Earth911.com's Recycling Center search

Also, to make it easier for your local recycling service and to make sure your stuff gets recycled properly you need to do a couple of things.  Make sure you clean and rinse your recyclables and flatten your plastics (e.g. milk jugs) before handing them over to the neato people who will be doing the recycling.  Note: keeping labels on products is fine.

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April 20, 2011
Quality Bilt Equipment has recently added what is sure to be an immediate hit with warehouse and distribution center managers. Styrofoam is a continuing problem in handling, storage and waste disposal. Up to this point, most facilities simply threw their waste Styrofoam into a dumpster or a compactor before shipping it to a landfill. Since Styrofoam is literally 98% air and 2% plastic, the expense of disposal of this material is expensive and a disaster for the environment. Styrofoam is very stable and does not degrade over thousands of years. Burning is restricted in almost all situations. Recycling is almost out of the question because of the cost of shipping to any recycling center even one that is close … at least until now. Our foam densifier is designed to reduce the volume of Styrofoam 90:1 thus making the storage and shipping of this recyclable affordable. The FD-25 is designed to handle the needs of most end-users. The FD-25 shreds and then melts the large blocks of Styrofoam quickly and extrudes the output into a 3/4" "rope" that quickly solidifies into a small "patty" which can be stored for later shipment. A roomful of Styrofoam can be reduced in minutes down to two or three 12 inch diameter X 4 inch high patties. But that is not all! Quality Bilt can supply names of recyclers that will buy the recycled Styrofoam and pay for that product. Reducing the disposal costs down to $0 and then adding the income generated from this recycling program will make this a very attractive proposition for most centers! We expect sales of our densifier to expand rapidly as managers see the potential - especially in this economy where cost savings are a necessary consideration of any manager. This is a win/win/win situation for the warehouse facility, the distributor and not the least of which - the environment! Don't expect the regulations of Federal, State, and Local Governments to relax restrictions and costs of the disposal of this waste product. Now is the time for action and not wait for a reaction to governmental mandates that are surely coming with their necessarily increased costs. www.qualitybilt.com
September 20, 2010
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pres...-plastics-88361707.html "Through Gimme 5, our deodorant customers will be able to participate in a recycling movement that takes their old deodorant packaging and creates useful and beautiful products by Preserve," said Fiona Russell of Tom's of Maine. "Our natural personal care products are healthy for people and healthy for the planet. By finding a recycling stream for our #5 plastic packaging, Tom's of Maine and its customers are collectively lessening the waste burden on landfills and our overall carbon footprint. " "This program reinforces the mantra 'reduce-reuse-recycle,'" says Stonyfield President and CE-Yo Gary Hirshberg." Most people want to do the right thing by the environment and Gimme 5 makes that easier. We're pleased to be a part of this great program." "Using a Brita pitcher and reusable bottle instead of drinking bottled water is a simple step people can take to reduce their impact on the environment," said Jennifer Brown of Brita. "Brita's participation in the Gimme 5 program helps people take another green step by recycling their filter and turning it into something they can use again and again." "Gimme 5 fits perfectly into our mission of caring about our communities and the environment," said Errol Schweizer, Whole Foods Market Global Grocery Coordinator. "We welcome this partnership and thank our shoppers and Team Members for such a successful year of recycling." The Preserve Gimme 5 program is currently available in over 200 Whole Foods Market stores in the United States. For a complete list, visit www.preserveproducts.com. Common #5 plastics include packaging for yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, margarine and some hummus containers; some plastic ice cream containers; and food storage and take-out containers. The number 5 should be plainly marked on the bottom of the container.
September 20, 2010
In Durham NC we can recycle egg cartons in our waste bins.
More Recycling reviews
Quick Tip by . May 17, 2011
The concept of reusing materials is fantastic. But I do frequently wonder what kinds of materials, chemicals, and energies are used in the actual recycling process. How much consumable energy is used in recycling, and what kinds of cleaning chemicals are used? I find it immensely disturbing that the environmental experts I asked these questions to were stopped dead in their tracks and didn't have answers.
review by . July 23, 2010
Is recycling an excuse?
   Is recycling or the ability to recycle used as a justification for consuming more stuff that is simply disposable. We live in a time where everything is made as cheaply as possible giving the consumer the illusion of having real buying power. All it really is, is uncontrolled creation of waste. Walk into any big box store today and look at all the isles and isles of stuff that really is not intended to last. And even though many items are recycleable, how much of it does get recycled? …
Quick Tip by . September 20, 2010
Preserve is a company which originated Gimme 5 and uses the recycled materials to manufacture products such as toothbrushes.
Quick Tip by . September 20, 2010
Recycle #5 plastic, ie: yogurt containers and Britz filters at Whole Foods. Check their website to make sure your local store has the Gimme 5 Bin.
Quick Tip by . July 11, 2010
I love finding ways to recycle and helping others to do the same!
About the reviewer
Clay Miller ()
Ranked #51
Graphic designer/illustrator and owner of Miller Creative Designs, LLC who on Lunch.com likes to shareinsight on Greenand health insight, ideas and other tidbits.Creator/writer of Ways2GoGreen .com& … more
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Recycling involves processing used materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" waste hierarchy.
Recyclable materials include many kinds of glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics. Although similar in effect, the composting or other reuse of biodegradable waste – such as food or garden waste – is not typically considered recycling. Materials to be recycled are either brought to a collection center or picked up from the curbside, then sorted, cleaned, and reprocessed into new materials bound for manufacturing.
In a strict sense, recycling of a material would produce a fresh supply of the same material, for example used office paper to more office paper, or used foamed polystyrene to more polystyrene. However, this is often difficult or too expensive (compared with producing the same product from raw materials or other sources), so "recycling" of many products or materials involves their reuse in producing different materials (e.g., paperboard) instead. Another form of recycling is the ...
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