Real Rules of Recycyling

The Chicago Tribune printed a great article this weekend about things that will and will not be recycled by its curbside program.  It was really timely because we have been debating a few things about the program in my house lately.  Things I learned:

  1. Starbucks coffee cups will not be recycled by the average curbside service.  Apparently, cups for hot liquids have a “thin synthetic lining”.
  2. Plastic containers will recycle, other plastic stuff won’t.  Apparently, the containers have coding that sorts them into one category or another and other plastic materials don’t.  Plastic hangers, utensils and CD cases were specifically mentioned.
  3. “Newspaper, cardboard, paperboard (cereal boxes) and scrap paper” are good.  The article doesn’t say specifically, but I read it to mean that  glossy catalogs, envelopes with plastic windows and magazines are not.

And while I already knew this, I feel the need to mention it: if there is food left in the container, the sorters will just toss it.

Please note that this article was written based on the the recycling in the city of Chicago, so some of the details may vary from city to city.  But the Rule of Thumb was valuable: “If the item is a container for food or laundry detergent bought in a grocery store, it’s probably accepted.” 

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