Organizing Waste and Recycling
The removal of waste and recycling materials may be organized (and mandated) by your town or city, be part of your condominium association arrangement, or be a private arrangement you make with a hauler. On the other hand, you may need to remove your waste and recycling from your property yourself. In any case, before material leaves your home, it will likely get sorted and temporarily stored. Here are some hints for organizing the waste and recycling, depending on your circumstances.
Where you keep and how you organize your waste and recycling will depend on:
- the space you have available
- whether it is picked up or you have to take it and drop it off
- where the pick up is, if there is one
- how often it goes out
- the requirements for sorting imposed by the system you are using
Companies that pick up recycling often supply containers, but there may be times when you have more recycling than will fit and you need to supply your own, in which case an extra cardboard box or—in a pinch—a laundry basket—may do the trick.
People generally like to keep their trash and recycling near the exit from which it will leave the building and/or in the place where most of the material accumulates. Trash is usually kept in tightly closed containers, while recycling, because the items are relatively clean, is possible to store in open containers. People often use a back porch or mudroom, a utility room, the garage, and the basement for storage.
In terms of house structure, using open containers for recycling may prove more congenial for materials that go out the back door than the front door because there’s usually more room for storage near back entrances. In any case, if you have limited space or wish to limit the visibility of your recycling as it’s waiting to leave the house, you may wish to create a set of containers that meet your needs for décor and tidiness.
Know the Categories
Wherever your waste and recycling is going, it’s important to know what is accepted, how it has to be divided, and in what kind of container it will be accepted. Companies that pick-up recyclables or have drop-off locations usually provide a booklet that describes their program, so you can determine what materials meet their criteria, and properly sort recycling from waste. Examples:
- Recycling agencies often take plastic bottles and jugs, glass bottles and jars, metal cans and foil, and mixed paper. But, there are often some types of plastic and glass containers and some kinds of metal and paper products that they don’t take. Make sure you know what is recycling and what is trash in your community.
- Usually, some preparation of materials is needed. In some cases you may need to wash things out, strip paper labels from metal cans, flatten cans and boxes, etc. Some of these requirements also affect how much space recycling will take up.
- You may be required to sort your recycling, or you may be free to mix materials, so long as they meet the criteria.
- Shredded paper may be accepted in clear plastic bags, whereas clear plastic bags are not, themselves, recycled. Check carefully for anomalies such as this.
If you choose to compost, this will be another element of your sorting, as you determine what to place in the trash, what to compost, and what to recycle.
Written by Mary Elizabeth
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