Many of us are guilty of “wishful recycling“….a phenomenon of wanting to recycle so badly that we throw things in the bin even when they can’t be recycled- hoping they’ll make it through the process.
Single stream recycling is only for certain types of recyclables. Other materials that could be reused like wood, leaves, scrap metal, and electronics should be handled outside of the single stream.
When we recycle anything and everything, it causes some BIG issues: (1) It takes a lot of work to MANUALLY sort out not accepted items and (2) It drastically lowers the QUALITY of the material.
1. “Wishful Recycling” makes the process a lot more difficult.
At Millennium, we use automated equipment to sort out single stream recyclables including Paper, Cardboard, Plastic bottles, tubs, and jugs, Aluminum cans, Steel cans, and BAGGED plastic bags – Anything else must removed by hand.
When things come in that can’t be automatically sorted, removing them by hand takes a lot of work. Throughout the process, we have “quality control” people watching the fast-moving material, pulling out anything that does not fit into the single stream categories.
If anything is missed, it can damage the equipment. Something like a loose plastic bag, a garden hose, or even just one wire hanger can wrap around equipment, bringing the process to a stop. This forces us to shut down and cut out whatever is stuck. Other items that cause damage include larger, heavy chunks of materials like scrap metal or wood. If a piece of a bicycle or wooden pallet gets jammed into the system, it can take out valuable processing parts, again shutting down the line so we can remove the material, figure out what was damaged, and replace the parts to get the system working again.
A lot of work, right?
These items can also be dangerous to employees. Not even mentioning the health danger of hazardous waste, heavy or odd-shaped items like tires or car engine exposes our team members to a chance of injury by having to pull them off the line.
2. “Wishful Recycling” Lowers the QUALITY.
Trying to recycle things with no resale market drives up the cost for everyone. After being sorted at Millennium, materials are sent to processors who make new products like paper, plastic bottles, or new soda cans. If non-recyclables are mixed in, they lower the quality of the material and processors have to spend much more time and cost processing them. This means lower resale value and a lower quality end product.
Remember, When in Doubt, keep it out!