About This Video
We toured the largest single stream recycling facility in the United States and got answers to common recycling questions. Special thanks to Annapolis Green for organizing this tour.
Fact or Fiction Summary (and Some Alternatives)
The information below is based on what we were told by the Waste Management Facility in Elkridge, Maryland. However, it’s always wise to check the web site for your local jurisdiction to see what is acceptable in your area.
Bottles are indeed recyclable, but sadly, there isn’t a huge market for them now that bottles of different colors are tossed into single stream recycling instead of being sorted by color like we did when I was a kid.
If you are recycling wine bottles, don’t throw away your corks! Watch our video How to Recycle corks.
By the way, the earrings I am wearing are made of recycled glass by YB Green Jewelry. Check out their cool stuff!
You do not need to remove the label from cans, but we like to remove the label so that the paper can be recycled.
According to Waste Management in Eldridge, Maryland, you do not need to remove the caps from plastic bottles.
This is not recyclable so just toss it in the landfill. DO NOT reuse plastic cutlery because as you wash it (whether by hand or via the dishwasher), the plastic tends to break down and will leach into your food! #Carcinogenic!
You do not need to remove the tape from cardboard boxes before placing in recycling. But before you start throwing away a large number of boxes, try to reuse them until you can’t use them again! And if you don’t need them, send out an email to your friends/neighbors or do a post on Facebook that you have extras you are trying to unload. SOMEBODY will need them!
If your company disposes of bulk corrugated cardboard boxes, check out UsedCardboardBoxes. They pay you for your boxes!
Those red and blue (and yellow) cups are made of polystyrene, also known as PS or by the recycling number 6 which is not widely recycled. But here is the thing. Just don’t use them at all! If you must use something disposable, use a plant-based option such as these by World Centric.
Polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam) is usually not recyclable via curbside. However, Dart, a company that makes polystyrene cups and more, has a recycling program.
Recycle the sections of your pizza box that are NOT soiled with food. Anything that is soiled can be placed in your curbside compost (if you are lucky enough to have it). Otherwise, toss it in the trash.
Leave your plastic bags out of recycling and take them to a grocery store that has a plastic bag recycling program. Better yet, just don’t use (or accept) plastic bags whenever possible. Reusables!
Let’s move towards a world where disposables are a thing of the past and we use reusables instead. Here are some really easy no-brainer reusables to use in your life.
- Water bottles
- Travel mugs
- Cloth bags
- Glass or stainless steel containers for leftovers
Share Your Thoughts!
We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
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Really useful information!! Thank you for all your work and research.
Thanks so much for watching, Joan! Please share the video with others so they will learn, too!
Hi. Thank you for your work. I also did the tour of the WM facility through Annapolis Green’s arrangements. I found the tour incredibly informative. I wanted to add a couple of things to your list.
Most disturbing to our group was that glass is used as a weight on landfills to keep the stench down. Unless there is a buyer for the glass, it is essentially landfill. Incredible to me, considering that it is practically interminably recyclable and reusable. The glass i dustry wants it, and glassphalt is popular in many places.
Also, styrofoam is taken by the UPS Stores and reused as packing materials. All sizes are useful, as they pack just about any sized items. They will happly take clean bubble wrap, air pillows, etc.
Lastly, what a nightmare the big plastic bags are for the machinery! Our guide said if there was one message he wanted us to broadcast, it was to recycle the bags at the grocery or other stores that take them.
Something else I have learned in researching recycling is that although you can toss alkaline batteries in the trash in our county, I still rpefer not to. Walgreens ohoto departments will take all kinds of batteries for recycling.
Thanks so much for your comments, Julie! We share your thoughts! It seems a pity the glass is put on top of landfills when it could be used for something else more useful. And we all just need to say NO to plastic bags and then, we wouldn’t have to worry about recycling them. Stay tuned for a Sister Eden video about how I avoid plastic bags.