14 surprising facts you never knew about recycling contamination


Recycling contamination of paper and plastic products is a growing concern throughout the world as people increase their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

Waste and recycling software company Rubicon provided 14 facts about recycling that may affect your next shopping trip.

#1: The average recycling contamination rate is 25%.

1 in 4 items that is placed into each recycling bin is non-recyclable, requiring the entire bag to be thrown in the trash.

#2: 75% of waste is recyclable, yet only 34% of it gets recycled.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates 75% of all reusable materials ended up in the landfill.

#3: Glass cookware can’t be recycled.

While glass can be reused in your kitchen for years — with some estimates approximating 1,000,000 years — items including Pyrex, ceramics and ovenware cannot be recycled.

#4: Heavily soiled paper, wax-coated paper and shredded paper cannot be recycled.

This includes used paper towels, wrapping paper, and paper plates.

#5: Compostable items can contaminate your recycling.

Pay attention to cutlery items that are designed to be compostable.

#6: The three-arrow triangle symbol does not always mean recycle.

Not all items with the three-arrow recyclable symbol will be accepted to your local recycling plant.

#7: Nearly 1,000 recycling plants in California alone shut down between 2016 and 2018.

The shutdowns are largely due to the recycling contamination crisis.

#8: Used cigarette butts can be converted into energy.

Head to TerraCycle and the Butts to Watts program learn more.

#9: Single-stream recycling has increased by 82.6% in the last ten years.

This increase applies to material recovering facilities across the U.S, according to the Government Advisory Associates.

#10: Proper recycling generates over half a million jobs and over 100 billion dollars.

Proper recycling is a driving economic force in the U.S. every year.

#11: Scrap plastic exports have declined 40% in the last year.

The U.S.’s high rates of contaminated recycling causes rejection of reusable materials worldwide.

#12: Recycling levels haven’t improved in the U.S. in 20 years.

Pricey recycling campaigns and new sorting technologies have not proven to be successful.

#13: 28% of surveyed people were confused about recycling.

People in this 2017 survey by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries believed recycling was a highly technical and sophisticated issue.

#14: Recycle Across America has launched a massive recycling solution campaign.

The campaign is aimed at promoting nationwide standardization of recycling labels.

For more ideas on how you can save the planet, visit 1Thing.

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