What are the benefits of recycling?
The recycling symbol can be seen on many single-use items, alerting the consumer to put specific items in the recycling bin rather than the trash. But what are the benefits of recycling and why is it so important to keep these items out of the landfill?
- Recycling wood and paper reduces the need for new raw materials and consequentially reduces deforestation.
- Recycling glass preserves silica sand, a raw material that is currently in short supply and is required to create glass, ceramics, construction materials, and more.
- Recycling metals reduces the need for expensive and damaging extraction of metal ores.
- Recycling plastic cuts down on the need for fossil fuel hydrocarbons which are needed each time a new plastic item is manufactured.
More energy is saved by recycling single-use items into new ones than you might think. The United States EPA reported that in 2014, recycled municipal solid waste saved more than 1.1 quadrillion British thermal units (BTU) of energy. They estimated that this is the same amount of energy consumed by over 25 million U.S. households per year.
Recycling lowers the demand for new raw materials, which decreases pollution, wildlife displacement, deforestation, and other negative environmental effects.
What can be recycled in your blue cart in Encinitas?
What can be recycled depends on where you live. In Encinitas, the following items can be placed in your blue curbside recycling cart. Use this printable guide to help understand what goes where.
- Carton Containers
- Glass Containers
- Mixed Paper
- Shredded Paper* (Place in a clear bag)
- #1 –3 and 5-7 Plastics
- #1, #2, and #5 are highly recyclable compared to other types, so if you must buy plastic, look for these numbers
- #4 plastics include bags and film, which should NOT be placed in your curbside bin. Instead, take these to a local grocery store participating in a plastic film recycling program
In order to be recycled, these items must be placed in your blue bin UNBAGGED, CLEAN, and EMPTY!
What cannot be recycled in your blue cart in Encinitas?
While recycling is an important aspect of waste management, it is not the solution. Unfortunately, many items cannot be recycled. Some of these items include:
- Soiled disposable plates, cardboard, or cups, soiled paper towels, or soiled tissue. (If these are uncoated, fiber-based, and not lined with plastic--think shiny--you can put them in your organics bin.)
- Carbon paper (including most receipts)
- Soft Plastics (NO single-use plastic grocery bags, newspaper delivery bags or chip/snack bags. Bring these to a plastic film recycling drop off point.)
- Drinking glasses
- Styrofoam packing peanuts
- Light bulbs
Some items are marketed as being recyclable, but are not in all municipalities. For example, while plastic utensils may be accepted by the recycling facility in one area, they are not in other areas. Even though most U.S. recycling facilities do not accept plastic utensils, companies may still promote them as recyclable.
To help avoid purchasing non-recyclable products, learn exactly what items your waste hauler takes. If you don't want to wait on hold, you can text customer service instead of calling by using the new EDCO app. Even better, opt to replace non-recyclable items with reusables such as: glass containers, silicone sandwich bags, cloth produce bags, beeswax wraps, etc.
A second part to this blog post will be coming soon with information on wish-cycling, tips for residents, and more.
If you have a specific question about recycling in Encinitas, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Recycling Blog Post Question.”
American Geosciences Institute: Recycling
Encinitas Trash and Recycling Webpage
EPA: Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2014 Fact Sheet
*To contain shredded paper and keep micro materials separated, place in a clear bag for sorting.