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TUCSON, AZ RECYCLING RULES TO KNOW

environment

By Linda Stewart

What to recycle and what not to recycle ─ it’s just so confusing

You’ve been living off the grid if you haven’t heard that many restaurants are not automatically giving customers plastic drinking straws. Those straws are the latest thing people want to keep out of landfills.

And a landfill is where they would go, because you can’t recycle them.

Most recycling plants, including those in Southern Arizona, use people and machines to sort recycled items. Machines don’t sort plastic straws well. They tend to gum up the works. And you try picking up lots of those straws from a conveyor belt.

The same goes for plastic grocery bags. According to Waste Management’s website, these grocery bags can shut down an entire recycling plant. However, you can recycle them at the grocery store. And we’ll offer other options for them.

Everyone knows you should recycle cardboard, right? That’s not always right. Think about pizza boxes. That oily residue and those food particles make pizza boxes non-recyclable. In fact, they can ruin the whole load of recycling and send it all to a landfill.

We’re told to recycle everything we can to save the planet. That means being careful about what you put in your blue barrel and what condition those things are in when you recycle them.

Waste Management is very clear that there should be no food particles or liquid in the things you recycle. Clean and dry is how it wants to receive your goods.

So if your newspaper got wet (we’re sorry!) let it dry before putting it in the barrel.

Recycle that plastic container that your lunch salad came in. Just wash it out first. Rinse out drink bottles and soda cans.

You may be thinking that you’ll waste more water than the saved energy is worth. But you can be smart about that too.

Glass food jars can go in the dishwasher if you are running it anyway. If you’re washing a sink full of dishes, wash out plastic food containers when you’ve finished the other dishes. Rinse them quickly and let them air dry.

You can avoid plastic grocery bags altogether by getting re-usable grocery bags. They are usually sturdier and hold more than the plastic ones anyway.

And if you forget your cloth bags and have a bunch of plastic grocery bags, we’ll be telling you soon about another use for them.

And those plastic straws? If you really like using a straw, buy some re-usable straws. Just be sure you can get them clean ─ large pipe cleaners can be used to clean the inside.

Here are some things you may not have known you can recycle:

  • Clean empty lotion containers
  • Empty plastic spray bottles
  • Cardboard egg cartons (as long as no eggs broke in the carton)
  • Clean plastic bottles and jugs (you may keep the labels on)
  • Any junk mail except wrapping plastic, including glossy paper, but not shredded paper
Here are some things you may be trying to recycle that you shouldn’t:
  • Anything with food or liquid left in it
  • Pizza boxes ─ if the lid is clean you can tear it off and recycle that
  • Broken glass
  • Soggy paper
  • Ceramics, crystal, mirror glass and window glass
  • Heat resistant glass like Pyrex
Here are a few things that can be recycled, but you shouldn’t put them in your blue barrel:
  • Batteries
  • Electronics
  • Light bulbs
You can contact the company for more information about where to take these things. Waste management has more information at Think Green From Home.

Tucson Clean and Beautiful can help, too.

Waste Management’s website has a lot of information on recycling, including graphics that show how curbside recycling is sorted and used at How We Think green.