What to Recycle in Your Blue Bin

If you’ve had a chance to read my last post on recycling, you’ll know that I visited the Sims Municipal Recycling facility in Brooklyn, NY just to see where the magic happens after my blue bin recyclables go after I leave it out on the curb on Monday evenings. I learned a lot that day thanks to GrowNYC’s Recycling 101 session at my office and also from Sam the Education Manager at the facility (they offer free educational tours, so definitely check it out if you’re interested).

Recycling varies by city and state, and sometimes by the type of residence you have. Some apartment buildings offer single-stream recycling (which means both your green and your blue bin recyclables are put together for recycling, but really someone else down the line will sort them out), but most of us are used to recycling paper and cardboard in the green bins, and glass, metal, and plastic in the blue bins. That’s the simplest way to remember, but I learned that there’s a bit more to it than these general rules and I hope to cover them with you so we can make it easier for our recycling facilities to process our recyclables. (Stay tuned for the post on the green bins in the future!)

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Glass

Contrary to popular belief, not all glass can be recycled. Different glass products have different thicknesses, and therefore have different melting points and can withstand the heat used to melt down these glass products. Most recycling facilities will request that you only recycle glass jars and bottles since they have similar melting points.

Metal

Aluminum is the one of the most valuable items to recycle, which is why we have the $.05 deposit that encourages consumers to recycle them. Recycling aluminum cans use 95% less energy than mining for raw aluminum, so it’s much better for us to recycle aluminum than to use more resources to mine for it.

Fun fact: There are magnets at the recycling facilities to determine whether the metal you’re recycling is ferrous or non-ferrous. Ones that are non-ferrous, such as aluminum, are typically worth more at the scrap yard should you decide to recycle it that way.

Plastics

I used to think that anything made of plastic could be recycled, including plastic bags, bubble wrap, ziploc bags, and saran wrap! But I learned that these soft plastics often jam the machines that sort the recycled products and are discouraged from being recycled. You’ll see on the packaging of most plastic bottles, containers, tubes, and food containers a number between 1 to 7, which indicates the type of plastic that can be recycled. Fortunately for NYC residents, the Sims Municipal Recycling facility takes most of these and you can recycle them, but other facilities are not as complex and can only accepted certain numbers, so please check before you throw them into the blue bin!

Follow this link if you’re curious as to where your recyclables go and what items are accepted, and maybe they offer free tours for the public to explore!

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