Recycling has been an important factor in the eco-friendly life for a long time, but not everyone is aware of just how dynamic of an industry the recycling world is. Rumpke Waste & Recycling, our local waste management company, works hard behind the scenes to gather, sort and sell recycled items.
Rumpke uses their networks to find the manufacturers who can efficiently and safely take sorted recycled items and put new life back into them. However, they need us to do more than just fill our bins for their work to go well. We spoke with Molly Yeager, corporate communications manager at Rumpke, to learn more about how we can be model citizens when it comes to recycling.
1 Know the Limits
Not everything can be recycled, especially not in the same way. Rumpke is limited by the equipment they have and by the safety of processing the material. “We have real people there monitoring our facilities, and we want to keep them safe,” says Molly.
2 Clean It Out
One easy way to improve your recycling is to clean out containers. Leaving a little spaghetti sauce in the jar makes the process of recycling the glass just that much harder. No one wants little bits of tomato embedded in their future glass goods, so clean first!
3 Lids On
In the past, plastic lids on milk jugs and other containers couldn’t be recycled, but now they can, provided you remember to leave them on the container (please empty and crush the bottles first). Otherwise, they drop through holes in the machinery and end up lost or in the wrong part of the recycling facility, Molly says.
4 Not All Metal
When your pots and pans are worn out, it can be tempting to see highly-sought-after metal and assume they can be recycled. Rumpke, however, doesn’t take metal items like pans and wire hangers due to the kind of recycling facility they have. However, aluminum and steel cans and lids are welcome.
5 Avoid A Fire
Batteries are a safety risk. Look for battery recycle stations at your local electronics store, since adding batteries to a general recycling mix can cause a fire in a recycling truck!
6 No Plastic Bags
Putting plastic bags in your bin results in tangles and challenges in the recycling conveyor belt process. Save them up and drop them at a grocery store for recycling instead.
7 Leave Them Loose
Don’t bag your recycling. Even though bagged garbage is the norm, leaving your recycling loose as it goes into the bin makes the sorting process easier for Rumpke and is their preferred way for you to fill your bin.
8 Pizza Box Surprise
Surprising items that you can recycle are pizza boxes. “In most cases, places use a grease catcher, so throw that out and recycle the box,” says Molly. “If you’re worried it isn’t clean, at least recycle the lid!”
9 All Hues of Glass
It’s a common misconception that certain colors of glass cannot be accepted for recycling. But Rumpke accepts all shades of glass bottles and jars.
10 Always Innovating
With a grant from The Recycling Partnership, Rumpke has expanded their machinery. Sorting new items like butter, sour cream and cottage cheese tubs, as well as yogurt and fruit cups is now possible. Changes in demand also help. “There’s more demand for polypropylene now, so all the factors came together to make this possible,” says Molly.
11 In Doubt? Ask!
Rumpke doesn’t want you to wonder whether something is recyclable or not: contact them on social media or call their 1.800.828.8171 number to get clarity. “People post pictures of items on Facebook. We respond quickly to let them know if it is recyclable,” says Molly. “Reach out and ask us!”
12 Recycling’s Future: Plastic!
Plastic recyclables hold untapped potential. “Plastic is still relatively new, so there are still different end users popping up,” Molly says. Research is even being done on turning plastics into low sulfur diesel fuel, making it clear that the future of recycling is bright.