It has happened to everyone. You have this item in your hand. You look at it and it just seems perfect for recycling. Certainly, there has to be a home for it. You're not 100% sure if it can be recycled. But, you think, it should be, so you put it in your recycling cart.
This is wish-cycling.
Harm to the Recycling Process
Many people take this approach because they want to err on the side of caution. The idea of missing an opportunity to recycle and having something be thrown out, feels terrible.
Only, it is the other way around.
This well-intentioned approach to recycling actually harms the recycling process. Once recyclables are picked up, they are taken to a recycling facility, which is called a Material Recovery Facility (MRF). These MRFs are designed to sort and collect specific items. If items that should not be included find their way into a MRF, these items become contaminants. It costs time, money and often human effort to try to find these contaminants or to fix machines once an improper item causes damage.
How to Avoid
How do we avoid wish-cycling? Focus on recycling these five materials:
- Metal cans
- Plastic bottles and jugs
Please remember, items should be loose. Do not place bagged recyclables in your recycling.
If an item you wish to recycle is not one of these items, please place it in your trash.