A big challenge in the recycling world is contamination. This comes from people either not caring, or caring too much and tossing anything and everything into the recycling bin. Another word for this is “Wish-Cycling“… but wishing something can be recycled doesn’t mean it can be, and it may even HURT the process, contaminate recyclable items or harm the REAL people who sort it out.
Help us make recycling a success in Sioux falls by avoiding the top 10 list of “Recycling No-No’s”:
#1 FOOD & LIQUIDS
With single stream recycling, all accepted recyclables go into the same bin. This means any grease, liquid or food that ends up in the bin can contaminate other items like paper or cardboard and lower their market value. All containers should be completely empty before recycling. Food spoils quickly.. which can also create an unsafe environment for workers in recycling facilities with mold, bacteria and rodents. Liquid trapped inside your container can also explode all over the floor, employees or equipment, creating a sticky, stinky mess. Please keep food waste out of your recycling bin and try to clean and empty your containers before recycling them (learn what we mean by ‘clean’ here).
#2 LOOSE PLASTIC BAGS
In Sioux Falls we are lucky enough to be able to recycle plastic bags, but only if they are BAGGED and tied shut! If they are loose, they force recycling employees to work extra hard at an already tough job. If they don’t get pulled out in time, loose plastic bags can jam up our recycling equipment and completely shut us down. Make sure to Bag your Bags (learn how to bag your bags and what you can include here).
#3 STRINGY STUFF
Stringy stuff like Garden Hoses, Metal Wire Hangers, Power Cords, Rope, Holiday String lights, Ribbon, Scarves/Any Fabric, Shoelaces and VHS Tapes get caught in our equipment and force us to shut down the entire line to get it out – wasting time and damaging our equipment. Learn what to do with them instead here.
#4 GRASS CLIPPINGS & LEAVES
Mulch, grass clippings, weeds, garden debris, leaves, branches, twigs and other yard waste are NOT allowed in your recycling bin. At Millennium Recycling, yard waste contaminates clean recyclables and can jam up our system. Imagine clumps of mud, grass and sticks mucking up the process– it can turn into a big mess fast! There are many alternate disposal options in our area (learn more yard waste disposal here).
#5 SCRAP METAL
The only types of metal you can recycle in your single stream bin are metal cans and aluminum foil – That’s it! Any other type of scrap metal can damage our recycling equipment and severely hurt our employees. Metal should still be recycled, just not in your bin. If you bring it to a scrap dealer, you might even get paid! Otherwise, you can bring it to the landfill, their staff will direct you where to bring it so it can be properly recycled (learn more about why scrap metal doesn’t belong in the bin here).
#6 NEEDLES & HOME HEALTHCARE
Syringes, needles, tubing, catheters, pills, medication, crutches, wheelchairs, bandages, gauze, pretty much anything you can relate to home healthcare is not recyclable – even if unused. Not only do recycling employees have to touch it to remove it, but none of those materials fit into the single stream categories- keep them out! (learn where to take sharps and medications in Sioux Falls instead).
#7 HAZARDOUS WASTE, ELECTRONICS & APPLIANCES
Hazardous waste like paint, motor oil, antifreeze, pesticides and any type of appliance, battery or electronic item can NEVER be placed in your recycling bin. These items are accepted for FREE at the Sioux Falls Household Hazardous Waste facility open year-round for your convenience! Non-toxic chemical or cleaning product containers can be recycled in your bin if triple rinsed to protect our recycling employees, make sure to keep the cap off of these to let them air out and be completely emptied of any liquids.
#8 NON-RECYCLABLE GLASS
Different types of glass are made up of different chemical compositions. Ceramic, china, dishes, mirrors, light bulbs, Pyrex, porcelain and window glass should never go in your Sioux Falls recycling bin! If mixed in with acceptable glass like bottles and jars (of any color), the entire glass load could be rejected by our downstream processor. Light bulbs in particular contain hazardous mercury which is dangerous to our employees – bulbs can be brought to the city’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility. For other items like dishes, windows or mirrors, think about donating these materials to a thrift store or Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. If broken or not reusable, try to tape any areas that may injure your waste hauler and place in your trash.
Scrap wood from furniture, construction projects, pallets, garage clean-outs, demolitions or any other type of wood are not recyclable in your bin. The single stream recycling process is not meant for items made of wood and it can actually damage the equipment if it comes in. Check out Mueller Pallets instead of throwing it in the trash. They accept trees and limbs, old pallets, dimension lumber scraps, and demolition lumber, pretty much ANY wood that you would otherwise transport to a landfill. Spotted trailers, pickups and drop off options are all available.
#10 BAGGED SINGLE STREAM
We want everything LOOSE in your recycling bin, the only exceptions are bagged plastic bags or bagged shredded paper- which should both be in clear or see-through bags. If a big bag of materials comes in, our employees must catch it, rip it open, and cross their fingers it’s not full of stinky trash or pet waste. Believe us, we’ve seen it all. Not only does this waste time and energy going after these bags to try to catch them, but it’s also very scary when you don’t know what’s inside. Help us by keeping all of your recyclables loose in the bin! If they must be bagged, make sure the bag is see-through! (See our to bag or not to bag for more information on bagging items)