Are you one of those "enlightened" individuals whose recycling bin is twice as full a your trash can on garbage pick-up day? Then you'll be surprised to learn that 10 percent of the material received cannot be processed and is discarded.
Cal Tigchelaar, President of Resource Management Company (RMC), a Chicago-based Company which collects Chicago's recyclables, told the Chicago Tribune that rejected items include everything from garden hoses to pizza boxes with food fragments.
Making sure to de-contaminate containers by removing liquid and food fragments from pizza boxes, tuna cans, peanut butter jars, and milk cartons is a no-brainer. Perfect for the recyclable bin. But products like garden hoses, which are made from several different materials, are classified as "hybrid" items. A recyclable process for hybrids has yet to be developed. Tigchelaar suggests punching holes in the hose and capping one end, producing a soaker hose.
How about plastic bags? Although plastic containers can be treated, there's little call for plastic bags. Forget about plastic hangers and CD/DVD cases; they can't be sorted because they're not containers. Rather than recycle, reuse or donate these items. We're talking grocery store, dry cleaners, or the Goodwill or Salvation Army, respectively.
Styrofoam? Despite mucho dolaros being spent on research and development, there's no economical process currently available to recycle Styrofoam. Cups used for hot beverages can not be processed through a curbside recycling program. Look for alternative containers to house your Green Tea or Mocha Latte.
Pillows, medications, light bulbs, od TVs? Check out the Goodwill or Salvation Army for old pillows. Include ABT appliance store for the old TV, and Home Depot for used, unbroken bulbs.
You still get an "B+" in the common items you've been recycling all along, i.e. glass, plastic and cardboard containers, laundry detergent containers, newspaper, cereal boxes, aluminum foil, tin cans, and steel cans. By the way, don't forget to recycle your computer paper!