Orange juice cartons go with the paper, but paper coffee cups go in the trash!
It’s not always obvious what items get recycled, or which category they go into for recycling. For example: milk and juice cartons are actually made of paper! Orange juice, milk, soup stock, and other cartons get recycled as paper along with your newspaper and junk mail. But paper that has been contaminated by food – coffee cups and paper plates – can’t get recycled and must go in the trash.
It’s very important not to mix contaminants into our recycling stream. Foods or liquids that are placed in a recycling container will ultimately saturate tons and tons of otherwise good paper and cardboard that they come into contact with. When paper and cardboard loses its quality, it also loses its ability to be recycled. It becomes trash.
Unfortunately, the average contamination rate among communities and businesses sits at around 25%. That means that roughly 1 in 4 items placed in a recycling container is actually not recyclable through curbside programs, and this creates enormous problems for the recycling economy!
Since plastic utensils can’t be recycled either, our best option is just to use good old metal silverware and wash it, rather than disposable cutlery. Plastic cups are frequently made from number 6 plastic, which is actually Styrofoam! Styrofoam doesn’t get recycled even when it’s clean, so avoiding paper and plastic cups altogether is definitely the best way to go.
Let’s try to keep Leonia’s recycling as clean as we possibly can. This not only increases the amount we can successfully keep out of the landfill, but it also earns our town money! Here’s an easy-to-follow guide for exactly what we can (and cannot!) recycle. Click on the pictures below to download a printable PDF to put near your garbage/recycling bins so you know exactly what goes where!