During some recent cool weather here at Quality Logo Products HQ, I got through the chilly mornings with my Keurig coffee maker cranking out coffee and tea like a champ. For those newbies stopping by, if you had no idea that I love my Keurig, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with my past blog on the subject. It’s cool, we’ll still be here when you’re finished.
After reading some news that mentioned how K-cups aren’t recyclable a coworker and I started to wonder what other things we throw in the recycle bin which aren’t actually recyclable. Some items really surprised us, while others we nodded our head in agreement with.
Pizza boxes covered in grease? Doesn’t really shock me that recycling plants can’t process them and reuse that material again for other products. Yogurt containers, though? I’ve been throwing those in the blue bin for years and feeling my inner eco-goddess shine!
What other items have I been hunting down those blue recycling bins for that aren’t actually recyclable? Some were shocking and others never hurt to be reminded of.
1. Planter’s Nut Containers
The main problem with this offender is that only some recycling plants can properly remove the paper from the metal and use both materials again. Both materials are technically recyclable, but together they are not. To save them from the landfills, try to reuse and repurpose them instead of pitching them. For example, they make great planters for small plants or flowers for your desk at work: just remove the label and you’re good to go!
2. Keurig’s K-Cups
Due to the unique brewing vessel, the package needs to withstand a fairly high amount of heat. So, K-Cups have to be resistant to the exact elements that are needed during the recycling process: heat, moisture, air, light. I wish there was a way you could recycle them, but there’s no way to do so while maintaining their excellent product. The best advice I can offer? Remove the foil lid when you’re finished with the K-Cup and compost the brewed coffee grounds yourself in your personal compost. Or, throw the grounds on your flower beds since some flowers love acidic soil. The acidity from the grounds will give life to some beautiful blooms in the spring.
3. Plastic Grocery Bags
These are the bane of my existence. I’ve complained several times about the annoyance of saving them, packing them up, and going to a grocery store that actually has a receptacle to collect them. Some states have even banned them and several more are considering this measure. My suggestion? Bring your own reusable bags to the store and keep a bunch in your car to have on hand. It not only helps the environment, but also keeps your rage in check.
4. Plastic #5 (Yogurt and Hummus Containers)
This is one that really shocked me. You more than likely have one of these containers made from #5 plastic in your refrigerator right now. Not every recycling program nationwide accepts it, but check out Earth911.com to find out if there’s one near you that you can drop them off at.
5. Paper Cups with a Plastic or Wax Lining
You may be thinking: “I never use these styles of cups,” but if you stopped at Starbucks this morning, you did! While clean and unused paper cups of this type are recyclable, it’s difficult to process them at a recycling plant once they get wet. Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Tim Horton’s (a shout out to all you Canadians reading) have been working together to produce a more environmentally-friendly paper cup, but nothing has come out yet. Instead of opting for a paper cup each time, bring along a reusable tumbler to get your morning jolt of caffeine. Starbucks will reward you with 10 cents off your drink.
6. Plastic Bottle Caps
While plastic water bottles can be recycled and broken down for use again, their caps are more difficult to deal with. Melting a water bottle and its bottle cap has about a hundred degree difference between the two of them. Some communities do recycle them, while others do not because of the process involved. Check out Earth911 to find out if your community recycles them or where you can go to drop them off.
Even you Dunkin’ Donut fiends out there can’t escape the same problem Starbucks runs into. Many cities and towns don’t recycle Styrofoam and it can take up to 500 years for it to decompose in a landfill. This stuff is tricky to get rid of since it isn’t recyclable and should not be burned up. For some tips, check out this website on green living tips for some handy ideas.
While this list may leave you wondering what CAN be recycled, there are tons of items out are that can be. Just be sure to double check with your community to find out what materials they take. A little research on plastic classifications and other materials can mean a better environment for our children and our children’s children.
Do any of these items surprise you? Do you have any other ways to reuse them than what I mentioned? Sound off below!