Posted on

EcoWise: From Coffee Cups to Cardboard: Ten Tips to Better Recycling

Most Pelham households are diligent about putting out their recyclables for weekly curbside collection. But recycling correctly is harder than it looks – as anyone who has spent time studying the garbage knows.

Can I throw in that ice cream container? (Yes.) Those empty prescription vials? (Yes.) Those plastic forks, knives, and spoons? (No.)

Here are guidelines to clear up some of the confusion:

  1. Yes, it’s true! You can comingle milk and juice cartons and ice cream containers with bottles and cans on collection day.
  2. Look for codes 1 – 7 on plastic packaging to confirm it’s recyclable. This will usually include such items as takeout food containers and plant trays.
  3. Plastic lids and bottle caps should be attached to their containers.
  4. Aluminum foil can be mixed with other metals, such as soda cans and even aerosol cans.
  5. You do not have to take the labels off of bottles and cans.
  6. Before putting out cardboard boxes, remove all styrofoam, bubble wrap, and packing peanuts. But instead of throwing out that stuff out with the regular trash, bring it to Mailboxes, Etc. and The UPS Store, which will reuse it.
  7. Keep in mind that many plastics – such as single-use shopping and dry cleaning bags, clear wrap, and throwaway utensils cannot go to the curb on recycling day. But retailers such as Fairway and CVS will recycle plastic bags for you.
  8. Make sure all recyclables put out for pickup are free of food residue to reduce odors and deter animals.
  9. Use large recycling bins with wheels and lids. They keep their contents protected from the elements and are easy to move to the curb. Never put recyclables in plastic garbage bags; they’ll clog up the recycling machines.
  10. Finally, when in doubt, leave it out.