How To: Separate Your Recycling

Separate Your Recycling

Recycling your garbage is noble and, in many places, mandatory. But it also can be very confusing. This guide will clear up the rules.

Step 1: Check Laws

Check the local laws regarding recycling in your town.

Step 2: Rinse

Rinse glass bottles, plastic containers, and aluminum and tin cans. Labels do not have to be removed. Recycle the plastic caps of water and soda bottles, but toss the ones from laundry detergent and food containers.

If you're confused about whether a plastic item can be recycled, look for its resin identification code — a triangle with a number inside. Products marked "1" and "2" are recyclable. Don't recycle unmarked plastic containers.

Step 3: Separate

In general, containers that hold food, beverages, household cleaners, or personal care products like shampoo and mouthwash are all recyclable. Separate plastic into one bin, glass into another, aluminum, tin, and aerosol cans into another, and aluminum foil.

Light bulbs, drinking glasses, crystal, window and mirror glass, ceramics, and kitchen cookware are not recyclable.

Step 4: Handle with Caution

Contact your local sanitation department for instructions on disposing of anything that holds potentially hazardous material, such as motor oil, pesticides, paint, solvents, and batteries.

Step 5: Bundle Paper

Place all newspapers, magazines, catalogs, junk mail, letters, envelopes, and promotional advertisements together. Be sure to keep all paper dry.

Be careful about recycling that can be used to steal your identity, like financial statements and unsolicited, pre-approved credit card applications. Shred them before recycling.

Step 6: Gather Cardboard

Remove any tape from cardboard boxes and brown paper bags before flattening them. Check if items like pizza and cereal boxes are recycled in your area. If they are, include them, too.

Step 7: Dispose

Find out when your city picks up recycling – sometimes on a different day from when garbage is collected – so you know when to leave those bins and boxes.

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