Recycling: Quick facts and tips for a greener tomorrow
I just finished up 9th grade at Menlo-Atherton High School. In my Ethnic Studies class, our end-of-year assignment was to research a civic issue and perform advocacy work in our community. I chose the topic of plastic pollution and found some surprising facts about recycling in my research that I’d like to share with you all.
Only about 9% of all plastics ever produced have been recycled.
- Recycling is different everywhere. It is crucial to know what items your recycling plant accepts. (See below for a list of items that SMC Recology does not accept.)
- The ♻ symbol does not necessarily mean something is recyclable. The main purpose of this symbol is to indicate the type of plastic, not whether it is recyclable.
- Objects often have the ♻ symbol with a number in the middle — different numbers mean different things. Numbers 1 and 2 are recyclable in most of the U.S. Items labeled with a 4 and 7 are not accepted in curbside programs.
Here are some ways you can help:
- Do not put your recycling in plastic bags. Instead, just put them loose in the recycling bin. Often recyclables in those opaque trash bags do not get recycled.
- While it is a common misconception that taking off the caps is better, experts recommend leaving the caps ON plastic water bottles so it has a higher chance of getting recycled. If you take the cap off, because of its small size it would usually end up in a landfill on its own.
- Make sure your bottles and containers are clean and dry before you put them in the recycling.
- Consider switching to brands that have recyclable packaging (not bubble wrap/styrofoam).
Our recycling service (Recology) does NOT accept:
- Packaging materials (styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap)
- Pizza boxes
- Food and liquid
- DVD and CDs
- Cling wrap, stretch and pallet wrap, plastic films
- Plastic bags
- Nursery pots and buckets
See the Recology SMC website for alternative places to take these items. I hope this helps — happy recycling!
(Sources: New York Times, Case Western University “The Daily”, Recology SMC, Recycle by City)
This article originally appeared in the Ladera Crier; used with permission.
Photo of Louisa recycling by Robb Most (c) 2023