“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
When in doubt, throw it out
Your good intentions may be costing the environment and the economy. Aspirational recyclers, the Starbucks cup tossers, for instance, or those who hope that their greasy pizza box will go through a metamorphosis into a beautiful cardboard butterfly, are better off throwing it away. “If more than 1 percent of the box is soiled with grease and cheese, we have to throw it out because food waste is a prohibited item. There are very stringent standards we have to meet,” Walters said.
Although modern recycling technology has made things easier, he added, most machines are followed up by a person who sometimes misses crucial items—like a baby diaper, for example. If a truckload of perfect recyclables finally reached it’s international buyer, like China before 2017, but was contaminated with just one baby diaper, the entire truck would be rejected. This shipping back-and-forth causes huge environmental and economic implications.
Do you wonder what happens to the recyclables you put in the blue container?
You might think you’re helping the environment when you start tossing everything into your recycling bin willy nilly, but you might be causing more harm than good. Take, for instance, an unwashed pasta sauce jar. It could potentially contaminate sought-after items, like paper and cardboard. Plastic shopping bags pose the biggest problem for recycling facilities, as the bags can wrap around machinery and could cost over $10,000 to replace, Walters said. And that Starbucks cup we mentioned earlier? While technically it can be recycled, it’s usually not due to the fact that the paper cups are lined with—you guessed it—plastic, and recycling facilities would have to separate the plastic liner from the paper cup, a costly process. Like plastic bags that damage machinery, trying to recycle these cups without separating the plastic from the paper can also do harm to a recycling center’s machines.
We encourage Texans to support the state’s economy and environment by repairing, reselling, donating, or recycling used electronics. Choosing to recycle used electronics over landfill disposal reduces the need to process raw materials for new products.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO THROW?
Recycling correctly is a critical part of conserving natural resources, creating healthier air to breathe, cleaner water to drink, and creating sustainable jobs.
Created by the Paper Industry Association Council, or PAIC, this web site offers a how-to when creating recycling programs for your office, school, and community.
By donating a car to Goodwill Car Donation, you too can be a part of our initiative that’s changing lives throughout the country. Let’s work together to make a difference in your own community, one vehicle at a time.