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How to Identify Recyclable Materials

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You need to know that not all materials, for example plastic, can be recycled. Why? Because there are some that are designed to break down in landfills instead. Here how to know which is which.

Check with the manufacturer if they manufacture PET plastic bottle or jars. What is Made Out of Recycled Plastic. Recyclable vs. Compostable vs. Biodegradable - Cracking the Code. The good news is that there are many eco-friendly alternatives to traditional disposable packaging, flatware, cups and cutlery.

Recyclable vs. Compostable vs. Biodegradable - Cracking the Code

The bad news is that the terminology is often confusing and the best disposal method is sometimes unclear. Here's a quick & simple guide to cracking the code: Recyclable: What does it mean? 'Recyclable' products can be collected and reprocessed to produce new items. How Do You Identify Recyclable Products? Many simple paper and plastic products are marked with the universal recycling symbol (at right). Visit Earth911.org to view a list of products which can be recycled instead of thrown in the trash. How Do You Dispose of Recyclable Products? The easiest way to recycle is through your municipal curbside garbage program, assuming such a program is available. Biodegradable: What Does It Mean? 'Biodegradable' simply means that a product will break down into carbon dioxide, water and biomass within a reasonable amount of time in the natural environment. Compostable: Which Materials Can You Recycle? Recycling, one of the three Rs of environmentalism, is a way to convert discarded items into new goods.

Which Materials Can You Recycle?

Not everything can be recycled (yet), but you should be able to find recycling facilities for these six main categories of household waste: Glass Most household glass can be recycled over and over again; just rinse or wash out the container and recycle. Glass is one of the easiest materials to recycle, so buy products packaged in glass if you can. Some glass items, such as car windshields, cooking dishes, and light bulbs, aren't usually accepted by local recycling systems, so check with your local government's waste office to find out how to recycle these items. Metals Metal food and drink cans made from aluminum or steel are recyclable, and aluminum cans in particular are very valuable. Organics Paper Nearly every paper item is recyclable, though you should check with your local recycling service provider before you bring in your milk and juice cartons.

Plastics Textiles. Understanding Recycling Symbols. Identifying Recyclable Resources Paper and cardboard grades can be a challenge to identify for clean recycling.

Understanding Recycling Symbols

Some papers have aluminium or plastic coatings on them (usually for liquid containment, like boxed drink packs or coffee cups) and these are often unsuitable for recycling. Some materials are contaminated, especially with oil or grease, and these then become unsuitable, such as food containers. Some materials have better qualities than others, such as brightness, fibre length and tearability. At the bottom of this page we have provided information to help understand the construction of paper and cardboard materials. Plastic can be one of the most confusing materials to identify for recycling.

What are thermoplastic plastics? How to Know if Something Can Be Recycled. What Can I Recycle. How can you tell what kinds of plastic to put into your recycling bin?

What Can I Recycle

There's no simple answer. The equipment at processing facilities varies, so the only sure way is to check with your municipality to see which plastic items it accepts. There are, however, general guidelines. Turn the product over and look for the recycling symbol, a triangle with a number from 1 to 7 inside. That number is the "resin identification code," or RIC. Some municipalities accept all types of plastic. Others may accept certain code numbers generally, but not specific items. Still other municipalities accept only products with specific resin codes that are bottles (having a neck that's narrower than the body).

Note that the same type of product may be packaged in different types of plastic. If you have questions about whether a plastic item is recyclable, call your municipality or local recycling center. To learn more about plastic codes, mouse over the symbols below. Code 1: PET or PETE Code 2: HDPE Code 4: LDPE. How Can I Identify Recyclable Materials? There are many types of recyclable metal.

How Can I Identify Recyclable Materials?

Fortunately, there are also many ways to identify and separate metal. USE A MAGNETA magnet can be used to separate ferrous metals, like iron and steel, from non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum, copper and brass. Simply put, if the magnet sticks to the metal, then it contains iron. FILE A SMALL SECTIONA metal file is especially useful for materials which are painted, coated or plated. By filing a small section on the surface of the scrap, you should be able to see the base metal.

SPARK TESTIf you have a metal grinder and a large enough piece of scrap, you can also use a spark test to aid in metal identification. If you are unsure of what type of scrap metal you have, the associates at Brenner Recycling are trained and happy to help.