For those of use whose cities offer recycling, it’s always a question: Just how clean do those empty cans and bottles have to be?
There are some items, like pet food cans, yogurt containers and empty cans of beans that seem to take endless amounts of water to clean up. But isn’t that defeating the point of recycling?
How Clean Is Clean?
Recology, the garbage and recycling company that services my home, tells me that “all containers must be empty. Rinsing not necessary.”
However, when Kiera Butler of Mother Jones called Recology, here’s what they had to say:
Most facilities won’t throw away a container simply because it’s dirty. And it’s not a giant deal if containers have little food residue on them (say, the yogurt your spoon couldn’t extract from the plastic cup).
But here’s the interesting part: The cleaner your containers, the more they’re worth on the recyclables market. Municipal facilities first sort recycling by type (paper, several kinds of plastic, tin, etc.), and then by quality. Workers separate clean recyclables from soiled ones, into bales. “If the bale is lower quality, there is less revenue coming back into the system from the sale of recyclables, which helps pay for the program,” says Reed. The takeaway: By providing clean recyclables, you can actually save your city (and ultimately, taxpayers) money.
So, apparently, the cleaner your empty is, the more it is worth.
Most companies seem to agree that you should follow your city’s guidelines on cleaning out containers, but that in general, you don’t have to get them super clean.
Your Pet Can Help You Get Clean
So maybe this is where pets come in helpful. Why not encourage your cat or dog to lick out your empty food containers?
Of perhaps put those containers out in the backyard, where the bugs and worms can clean out those cans really well. Always assuming that the wasps and raccoons don’t get there first!
What do you think? What works for you?
Photo credit: PburghStever via Creative Commons
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