Q&A: How do I know if I recycle correctly?

Just thinking about how to recycle correctly is a very important first steps towards achieving it! The most straightforward answer is that every single municipality (or whichever entity is responsible for waste management in your area) has specific rules for recycling and you can ask them for guidelines. Those guidelines, ideally, should be based on how the local sorting/incineration facilities handle waste.

Where I live, we are provided with a set of bins for different types of materials with stickers on them explaining what goes into each bin. On the municipality’s website, there are also guidelines as to what to do with hazardous waste (e.g. batteries, light bulbs, ITC equipment) as there are specific collection points throughout the city. Moreover, certain containers can (and should) be returned to the store as you pay a deposit when you buy them.

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From my experience, it’s also sometimes tricky to know what to do with things such as dirty cardboard (e.g. pizza boxes), dirty tetrapak bricks (i.e. cream containers) and such things as those aluminium lids on yogurts because the stickers on bins/guidelines do not make it very clear and waste sorting facilities get better and better at handling different types of waste. About ten years ago, in the area where I was living, anything with grease on it was considered as contaminated and had to be thrown into the general waste – just one greasy paper could result in the contents of a whole recycling bin to be thrown into the general waste during collection. For plastics it was even more complicated because certain plastics went into one bin and others in another!

Overall though, the best way to know what goes into what bin and what can be recycled is to ask the entity in charge of setting up your local recycling scheme!

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