Don’t Turn Your Recyclables Into Garbage

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Did you know that putting a non-recyclable item into your curbside recycling bin or the public drop-off bins can actually cause EVERYTHING in the bin to go to the landfill? Recyclable items jump through many hoops on their path to become new materials. Understanding this process will help us avoid losing valuable materials to the landfill. It’s up to you to recycle right and not mix in materials that disrupt the process.

Below are the top five items that spoil recycling bins — look out for these foul plays!

Plastic bags: plastic bags, loose or used to hold other recyclables, can clog the sorting equipment at recycling centers. Take plastic bags to your local grocery or retail store recycling bins.

Glass: not all glass items are recyclable. Dinnerware like plates and drinking glasses, mirrors and ceramic products, can ruin recyclable glass at drop-off sites. Glass mixed in your curbside bin can shatter when collected, ruining your regular recyclables.

Food residue: food and liquids left in recyclable containers ruin the whole load. Give all containers a quick rinse.

Non-recyclable plastics: only plastics #1–7 can be recycled curbside. Only plastics marked #1–5 are accepted at public drop-off sites. When in doubt, throw it out.

Textiles: fabrics mixed with your recyclables require manual separation at the recycling center — which slows the process and increases the cost of recycling. Donate used clothing to thrift shops.

Mixing non-recyclables in the recycling bin both destroys all the work you put into recycling and hampers the efforts of Lincoln’s collectors and processors who haul and sort the materials. Recyclables that have contaminants mixed in — plastic bags, broken and incorrect glass, food waste, non-recyclables plastics and fabric textiles — are sent to the landfill.

Let’s improve our recycling moves and ensure that we recycle right. Stick to the basics and when in doubt, throw it out. Find out more at