recycling center recycling sorting conveyor

Improper Disposal at the Recycling Center: Aspirational Recycling

Posted by: TXrecycle Tags: There is no tags | Categories: Recycling, Articles

If only the average American could be a fly on the wall when recycling center employees sift through literally tons of the recycled materials processed every day. If they could, maybe they would see for themselves the many consumer recycling mistakes that take place. They may also see why experts say not everything is recyclable and that it is better to do your research before tossing oddball items into the same recycling bin. The Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent statistics show that Americans produced 292.4 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2018 alone, or 4.9 pounds per person per day. And while the EPA estimates that most of those items are recyclable, there is plenty of aspirational recycling going on.

What is aspirational recycling, exactly? This is when everyday people try to do the right thing to reduce, reuse, and recycle place items into recycling bins that can’t be recycled. They may believe garden hoses, strands of Christmas lights, or bowling balls are recyclable. But the reality is that they are not, and tossing these items into the recycling bin can cause more harm than good—including contaminating the items that can be recycled.

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Have You Tried to Improperly Recycle Any of These Materials?

At Texas Recycling, your source for corrugated cardboard, paper, and commercial metal recycling in Dallas, TX, we know what can and cannot be recycled. As a result, we’ve seen our share of strange items that make it to our recycling center as a result of aspirational recycling. Since not everyone can be a fly on the wall, we scoured the Internet and came up with a list of oddball items found by workers at waste management facilities, landfills, and recycling centers.

Let us be clear, this list shows items than can NOT be recycled at most recycling centers:

  • Bathtubs, sinks, and toilets
  • Car bumpers
  • Explosives
  • Diapers
  • Prosthetic limbs
  • Mattresses
  • Power tools
  • VHS tapes
  • Eyewear (i.e., glasses)
  • Sewing needles
  • Propane tanks or cylinders
  • Barbed wire
  • Tennis balls
  • Wine corks
  • Running shoes
  • Gift cards
  • Pipes
  • Paint containers
  • Screen doors
  • Laptops and other electronics

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recycling center Recycling Materials

We Know You Mean Well, but Aspirational Recycling Happens Every Day

If only everything could be recycled, right? And even if you do know what can and can’t be recycled, there would be less confusion if you didn’t have to worry about what should or shouldn’t go into the same bin. But alas, that’s not the way the process works. Putting something that cannot be recycled or combining oddball items into traditional bins instead of properly sorting ahead of time creates way too many situations where workers at recycling centers all over the country are quickly snagging a garden hose or a strand of Christmas lights before they fall into a massive sorting machine. The same applies to every pipe, aerosol can, and paint container.

The good news is that workers are in place to correct these issues. But even one item that shouldn’t be there ultimately bogs the overall process, thus leading to efficiencies throughout the recycling supply chain. Perhaps more importantly, putting something that can’t be recycled with items that can contaminate the rest of the items at recycling centers.

This leads to severe issues, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Equipment malfunctions
  2. Injuries
  3. Slower sorting
  4. Contamination
  5. A devaluation of recyclable materials
  6. More items unnecessarily sent to landfills

Ignoring these rules of aspirational recycling—even if unintentional—undoes all your previous good intentions.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle the Right Way

recycling center sorting empty wine bottle to green bag

At Texas Recycling, we believe in the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle). Not only can you contact us ahead of time to ask questions about items you can bring to our recycling center, but there are also a slew of online resources designed to guide you in your recycling efforts. The EPA has a great page on its site that’s dedicated to providing resources for determining what to do with many of the items listed above. This includes:

  1. How to donate and recycle used electronics
  2. Tips to reduce wasted food
  3. Resources for students and educators

Additional online resources suggest recycling or reusing many of the items above in different ways. For example, you could send eyeglasses and hearing aids to charitable organizations like New Eyes for the Needy and prosthetic limbs to the Amputee Coalition of America. Many grocery stores will take your used propane tanks, and most municipal entities offer separate bulk trash pickups for things like mattresses so that they can be properly disposed of.

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A Recycling Center in Dallas Providing Education on Proper Recycling

Aspirational recycling has quickly become a major problem in the United States and across the globe. And the reality is that many people who are adding to the problem simply don’t realize they are doing anything wrong and only have the best intentions. We hope this article opened your eyes to how we can all do a better job of sorting ahead of time to avoid sending items to recycling that shouldn’t be there. If you have other questions, please reach out to us.

Texas Recycling provides the highest-quality Dallas recycling services in North Texas. We process thousands of tons of recyclable paper, cardboard, newspaper, and industrial metal at our 225,000-plus square foot recycling center. So, if you still have a truckload of recyclable items, please give us a call at 214-357-0262 so we can let you know how we can help. 

Our creative solutions help companies embrace environmental responsibility and sustainability. Texas Recycling also offers the highest level of personalized customer service to all our clients. From scheduled pickups for large commercial entities to our Public Buy Back Center for individuals and smaller businesses, we have a recycling solution to meet your needs.

Help both the environment and your bottom line by calling Texas Recycling at 214-357-0262 to get started on a commercial recycling or industrial recycling program for your organization.

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