Recycling contamination occurs when the wrong materials find their way into a recycling system or when the right recycling materials are improperly processed.
It’s important to provide adequate information regarding recycling contaminants to your employees to reduce incidences of contamination at the office. Most cases of recycling contaminants at the office are due to a lack of insufficient recycling information among workers. The following are types of recycling contaminants your employees should know about:
1. Plastic Bags
Plastic bags and materials from plastics such as bubble wraps, newspaper bags and trash bags, are the most known recycling contaminants. Make sure your employees keep them out of the recycling bin to enable sorters to isolate them easily during recycling.
2. Food Waste
Your employees should be aware of the contamination caused by food waste. Recyclable items speedily become garbage when leftovers are in jars or cans. A good example of food waste contaminant is take-home paperboard boxes. It’s wrong as much as it seems to be environment-friendly for such paperboard waste to end up at a landfill.
3. Shredded Papers
Recyclable papers are those with long paper fibre able to stand up to numerous recycling cycles. Although shredded-paper is not entirely a contaminant, shredded papers can cause recycling problems. This is because it is difficult to recover shredded papers mixed with non-shredded papers at a material recovery facility. Essentially, employees should always place shredded-paper in a separate clear plastic bag together with other recycling materials.
4. Brightly Coloured Papers
Bright colours spoil good recyclable papers. To establish if a brightly coloured paper is recyclable, tear it and look for the white at the center. If the bright colour dye penetrates the centre, it is not recyclable. Your employees should have this information at the office to keep the recyclable papers separate.
5. Beverage Cartons
There are certain beverage cartons accepted by a select number of municipal programs. To be sure you have the right ones, consult the municipal program’s manager to establish if they are on the ‘yes’ list, and if they are, ensure your employees keep both the lid and carton tops for recycling using the single stream recyclables for easy separation.
6. Wrong Type of Plastics
Not all plastics are recyclable. Some municipality recycling programs accept most types of plastic. Your employees should, therefore, empty the plastic containers before recycling them.
7. Harmful Waste
Containers carrying dangerous materials such as automotive fluids, pesticides or paints, should be disposed of separately. Checking with the local waste program manager will help you establish the best way to recycle such hazardous waste.
8. Bio-Hazardous Waste
Products that contain human fluid such as syringes, needles, diapers and sanitary items are not recyclable. They are dangerous and difficult to handle. Make sure your employees do not mix such contaminants with recyclable products.
9. Frozen Food Containers
Don’t recycle frozen food containers. The paperboard box removed from a freezer is not recyclable. Make sure your employees do not mix such material with other recyclable materials.
10. Metal-Capped or Unrinsed Glass
To recycle wine or beer bottles, first rinse them thoroughly before putting them in a recycling bin. When mixed with other papers in a recycling bin, the excess liquid from an unrinsed bottle makes them non-recyclable. Employees should always separate metal caps from their glass containers.
You can avoid recycling contamination problems at the office by raising awareness among your employees about the impact of contaminants on recyclable materials. Always keep contaminants away from other recyclable materials. Lastly, keep the containers clean and rinsed for easy sorting and recycling. Eventually, the recycling process will be efficient and encourage your employees to engage in environment-friendly practices.