You are standing in front of your trash and recycling bins with a plastic container (or a metal lid, plastic bag, old power supply, some plastic toys) in your hand and you are thinking, “...this HAS to be valuable. If I put it in the blue bin, at least it stands a chance of staying out of the landfill.” -- So, in the blue bin it goes.
The hard reality is that 25-40% or more of what we are putting into the recycling bins is being treated as trash. Unfortunately, today many of those “valuable” items go from our recycling bin to the landfill but only after much unnecessary handling and expense.
By now, most everyone knows our recycling ecosystem has been knocked to its knees. Just about the time we were all getting properly conditioned to separate materials, our biggest final destination for the stuff we “recycled” (China) stopped taking it and the industry is now working hard to adjust.
We will get there eventually and be better off than we were. But, it is going to take investment in processes and equipment not currently in place and industry needs time and extra capital to get there. What they don’t need is us making it harder and more costly than it has to be. Please don’t give up, just seek to do it right.
So, as you ponder, item in-hand, please either:
1) ASK your waste/recycling service if they still take it (it could have changed since they printed it on top of your bin or...
2) TRASH bin the item, as painful as that might be. You are not saving the planet by “wishful” recycling. You are actually making it worse.
Doing a Redo on your usage and recycling behavior will ensure you are not becoming a larger part of the problem and it will help give our national innovation engine time to invent and invest our way out of this mess.