Recycling Basics

The three R's of conservation, as the EPA Web site notes, are "reduce/reuse/recycle"—that is, reduce the amount of trash thrown away in the first place, reuse containers and products whenever possible, and recycle or compost everything that can be recycled. The government's recycling plan also urges consumers to buy products made from recycled materials.

A long list of items can be easily recycled in most curbside programs, including all kinds of paper and cardboard, glass of all colors and types, plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and yard trimmings. In addition, a number of localities offer drop-off programs for recycling other items, such as household hazardous wastes (paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides), automobile items (tires, used engine oil, car batteries, antifreeze), wood construction materials, certain metals, appliances, and consumer electronics. Only a few cities are experimenting with collection of food wastes for composting. Homeowners, however, can easily compost food wastes themselves by learning how to create a compost pile on their property where wastes can be turned into a nutritious material (called "compost") that can be used to fertilize gardens and other plants.

Most municipal recycling programs, however, only accept a few types of plastics. Determining which plastic items can be recycled can be ascertained by reference to a system of identification codes developed by the Society of Plastics Industries in 1988. These codes are

Cans and buckets of household hazardous waste are collected for safe disposal and recycling. Many cities offer drop-off programs for recycling these types of items.

Cans and buckets of household hazardous waste are collected for safe disposal and recycling. Many cities offer drop-off programs for recycling these types of items.

stamped onto most household plastic items inside a triangle of arrows—a commonly used symbol for recycling in the United States. The number codes for plastics are as follows:

1. PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate—i.e., soda bottles)

2. HDPE (high-density polyethylene—i.e., milk jugs and water bottles)

3. Vinyl

4. LDPE (low-density polyethylene)

5. PP (polypropylene—i.e., long underwear)

6. PS (polystyrene—i.e., packaging "peanuts")

7. Other

According to estimates by the American Plastics Council, more than one-half of all U.S. communities now collect plastics for recycling, either at the curb or through drop-off centers. Yet the vast majority of these communities collect only PET and HDPE plastics (codes 1 and 2)—primarily milk and soda bottles. Most other plastic items, even if they are stamped with recycling symbols, go directly into landfills.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Trash Cash Machine

Trash Cash Machine

How recyclable trash can save the world and bank us huge profits! Get All The Support And Guidance You Need To Be A Success At Recycling! This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To How To Make Profits With Trash!

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment