Teaching my family how to recycle correctly has not been easy. When it’s time to empty the recycling bin, more often than not I have to go through the discarded plastics to look for a number of different items that can’t be recycled. The biggest culprit is potato chip bags.
While it’s easy to call out others for their repeated mistakes, I too am an offender. Until recently I never knew that single-use/disposable plastic plates and cups could not be recycled. I learned this when the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) sent out an e-blast with a list of items that should not be tossed in the recycle bin.
Common single-use plastics (SUP) items you should not put in your household recycling bin:
- Plastic Utensils
- Straws/Coffee Stirrers
- Coffee Pods (if you use pods, be sure to get the kind with the biodegradable mesh bottoms)
- Chip bags, candy bar wrappers and other snack packaging and wrappers
- Cling wrap
- Plastic bags
- Single-use/disposable plastic plates and cups
- Some types of takeout containers
The DEC says that just because a plastic cup has the chasing arrows symbol, does not mean that it can be recycled by a local hauler or county/municipal recycling coordinator. Unfortunately, the last thing that we need is for recycling to be complicated for households, or fewer people will participate.
Challenge yourself to replace one single-use plastic with a reusable alternative this week.
One of the most effective ways to keep plastics out of our landfills is to cut down on their use. The DEC is asking people to “take the ultimate challenge and go plastic free in July!”
*If you have questions, check with your local hauler or county/municipal recycling coordinator. Recycling rules differ by location and program.