Your Green Life: Recycling 101

By KBJR Manager

August 4, 2010 Updated Aug 4, 2010 at 3:16 PM CDT

If you've ever stood over your trash can and recycle bins confused over which item belongs where, you're not alone.

Steps are being taken to make this decision less confusing as meteorologist Shannon Murphy explains in "Your Green Life."

What many people don't know is that it's the law.

"Recycling is required by the sanitary district and by the city of Duluth."

Having the knowledge of what can be reused and recycled can reduce waste and save energy.

There are five basic groups but most recycling companies don't even make you separate anymore.

These groups include paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metal cans.

Its plastics that usually create the most confusion.

One of the problems is with that tiny triangular label on the bottom of plastic containers.

"The misconception is that it's a recycling symbol. Because it's really not. It's there to indicate what it's made of."

Most haulers do accept plastics with numbers one through seven, but there are exceptions to the rule... films and foams.

Items such as plastic wrap, tin foil, plastic bags, and Styrofoam... are all too thin and of too low a grade to make into a new material. They have to be thrown in the trash.

If its still too confusing and taking too much time to think before you throw, don't worry... the single sort recycling method has simplified the process.

"Recyclables are shipped out of town to a warehouse with a series of conveyor belts that allow workers to organize the materials so they can be recycled."

"With the single sort actually more materials are being recycled, so it seems to be a benefit more than a negative."

The bottom line is you only have to have two containers...one for garbage...all things that can't be recycled...and another for all things that can be recycled.

Household recyclables make up over half the garbage in Minnesota landfills, and it is up to us to reduce these numbers.

In Duluth, meteorologist Shannon Murphy, the Northlands NewsCenter

Addition Recycling Tips Include:

Rinse all food containers. This helps to create higher quality recycled products.
Flatten or crush materials to save space.
Follow all recycling guidelines. If you are unsure if an item is recyclable, call the WLSSD hotline at (218) 722-0761 for more information.

Check the bottom of your containers. Make sure they show the recycling arrows and are labeled #1-7.
Rinse all food containers.
No FILM or FOAM. This includes any Styrofoam, plastic bags, or wrap.
No plastic cups, plates, or utensils.
No flower pots or trays.
No buckets 5 gallons or larger.
No plastics that contained motor oil, antifreeze, or other automotive fluids.
See the Plastics Recycling Fact Sheet for more details.

Paper and other fibrous materials can be recycled together as mixed paper.
Some recycling facilities and waste haulers require paper to be sorted out based on type (office paper, newspaper, magazines, etc). Check with your recycling shed or garbage hauler for details.

Mixed Paper Includes:
Press or pasteboard boxes and packaging (cereal and shoe boxes, packing and clothing inserts, legal pad backing etc.)
Paper of any color
Copy machine and uncoated fax machine paper
Envelopes with or without windows or self-adhesive
Tablets, legal pads, and notebook paper
Junk mail
Glossy pamphlets an brochures
Manila folders and envelopes
Shredded paper
Carbonless paper
Paper ream wrappers
Paper bags
Phone books
Paper back and hardcover books

Look for the ripple! Corrugated cardboard consists of two outer flat sheets of heavy paper and an inner filling of "rippled" corrugated paper that provides support for the box or package.
Common pressboard used for cereal and shoe boxes is not considered cardboard; these materials should be recycled with mixed paper.

All colors of glass are typically accepted for recycling.
Rinse all food containers.
If you recycle at a recycling shed, metal lids should be removed and placed in the metal recycling. Residents with curbside service can leave lids mixed in with their non-paper recyclables.
Labels do not need to be removed.
Do not include any window glass, canning jars, ceramics, dishes, or drinking glasses.

Rinse all food containers.
Labels do not need to be removed.
Cans do not need to be flattened.
Do not include any scrap metal or non-food cans like paint or solvent containers.

Source: http://www.wlssd.duluth.mn.us/garbage_recycling_tips.php
Visit the WLSSD website for more information.