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Avoiding recycling mistakes to keep the stateline clean


As China continues to take less of the world’s trash, it becomes more important to recycle and ensure it’s done properly. Simple mistakes can contaminate the entire recycling process.

“It is very important, you know our landfills they talk about them getting full,” says Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful’s Executive Director Pam Osborne. “They’re recycling toilet paper, and toweling. I mean almost everything we use can be recycled.”

However, there are some items that can’t.

“If there’s grease in the pizza box it contaminates the whole batch,” says KNIB’s Jean Lopez. “So anything in that recycle bin is now contaminated and will end up in the landfill.”

Plastic grocery store bags are one item that is not typically recyclable at every center. Those bags should go back to grocery stores for proper disposal where they are remade into bags again. “A grocery store bag is usually only used for 20 minutes,” explains Lopez. “By scientific studies they’re saying it will last 500 to 1,000 years in a landfill.”

Thermal register receipts are also not recyclable. KNIB officials say those contain toxins that are harmful to the system. While the overall task might seem daunting, they say there are ways to start small and do your part.

“People start out and think they have to do it all or nothing. And the one thing we just want people to know is that you can start out small, you can just recycle your cans or your glass bottles,” says Lopez. “Just rinse them out, they don’t have to be perfect they just have to be fairly clean and put them in your recycle container.”

Other items like paper towel rolls and regular paper and magazines can also be turned into the center. On an average day the center is open they see nearly 150 cars drop off cardboard, cans, paper and electronics.

“Electronics is a really big thing for us. We’re involved in the Illinois EPA consumer electronics recycling act,” Osborne tells 23 News. “And when we get a load we send out about 18,000 to 19,000 pounds of electronics every two weeks.”

Both Osborne and Lopez agree the first goal is to reduce usage. “We are trying to get people to use less products that have to go in the landfill,” says Lopez. “We’re trying to reuse things, and recycle the things that can be recycled.”

The KNIB recycling center is open Tuesdays 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. They work with the Rock River Disposal and Advance Disposal.

Here is a list of some items accepted:

-air conditioners -computers -dehumidifiers -flat screens -freezers/ refrigerators -books -magazines -mail -clean glass containers or bottles -clean metal cans or plastic bottles -clean cardboard boxes -clean clothing items -purses -shoes -bedding -throw rugs -egg cartons -auto or marine batteries -cell phones -holiday lights -plastic six pack rings -metal items -vacuums

Here is a list with some items NOT accepted:

-hazardous waste -pizza boxes -propane tanks -fire extinguishers -paint -smoke detectors -gift wrap -Styrofoam -plastic bags

This is not a full list, but KNIB officials say they are a resource, and ask anyone with questions to call the office.


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