Thursday, April 8, 2010

Recycling: Read the Rules

San Francisco recycling flyer

Do you know how your local recycling works - what's accepted, and what's not? I find that many of my clients do not know - and that their local curbside recycling programs often accept much more than they realized. Here are a few items that often cause confusion.

1. Envelopes with plastic windows, sticky notes, glossy paper, paper with staples, cardboard with tape, paperback books.

When recycling programs were first starting up, many of them did not accept these items. I just checked six programs in the San Francisco Bay Area, and they all accept these items now.

Yes, many paperback books can get reused rather than recycled. But sometimes a book is so battered, or so out of date, that recycling is the only practical option.

2. Shredded paper.

Some recycling programs around here take shredded paper if it's placed in a paper bag that's stabled shut. Other programs want the shredded paper placed in a clear plastic bag.

3. Photographs and photo paper.

Some local programs say that photographs are plastic-coated paper and not recyclable. However, other programs list them as perfectly acceptable.

4. Black plastic food containers and to-go clamshell containers.

Some programs in my area take these, and some don't.

So check the rules for your local program; you may be in for a surprise or two!


Anonymous said...

If you know anyone with rodents (guinea pigs, rabbits, etc) shredded paper makes great bedding. Also, some pet shops will take it as well. Our papers go through the guinea pig cage, onto the chicken coop and finally become soil for the veggie garden.

Jeri Dansky said...

Sue, I don't know anyone with rodents at the moment - but that's a great tip. Thanks for sharing.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

We have peculiar restrictions on recycling plastic: plastic bottles (like shampoo) are okay, but tubs (like yogurt) aren't, even though they fall within the appropriate "1" through "5" numbered plastics. I assume it's because people don't usually take the time to check the numbers and sorting the unrecyclables from the ones that are acceptable takes too much effort.

Jeri Dansky said...

Cynthia, Preserve explains what's going on with yogurt containers, and offers another option. Unfortunately, while my local Whole Foods will take yogurt containers back as part of this program, it seems that Whole Foods in Southern California isn't part of the effort.

Another option is to buy Yogurt Saint BenoƮt, which comes in returnable crocks and jars.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Thanks for the tips, Jeri! I'm a fan of Greek yogurt and now will have to try French.