Resilient Recycler: You won't believe what we find in the recycling?!
Be prepared to be grossed out.
We see a lot of non-recyclable materials and junk coming down the recycling sort line that the sort line workers throw into the garbage pile. Some contamination is understandable because of improper labeling of recyclables by producers, confusion about plastics, or food residue. However, some of the stuff is just outright garbage like diapers.
You may have heard how China is rejecting recycling bales because of contaminants like diapers, but even here in Clark County, those stinky, soggy wads float down the river of recyclables more often than you would expect. Why? Are people too lazy to put trash in the garbage? Is their garbage can already too full so they put overflowing trash in the recycling just to get it out of the house? Are they confused by terminology that says "single-use disposable" and somehow think that means recyclable? Who knows?!
The one thing we can say for sure is that people who put trash like dirty diapers in the recycling are not thinking about where it goes after it gets picked up. Out of sight, out of mind. But when you throw something in the recycling bin, you should be thinking about all of the employees that spend all day navigating huge recycling trucks around tiny cul-de-sacs lined with parked cars, all of the employees on the sort line standing for four-hour-long shifts pulling trash off the recycling line, all of the employees driving bales of recyclables to the port or across the state. How many hands touch that material before it ends up in the landfill or on the supermarket shelf as a new material?
There's not a mystical beam that zaps your trash or recycling straight from the curbside to its proper place. So be conscientious of worker's safety by keeping sharps, broken glass, and garbage out of the recycling and disposing of chemicals, explosives, and other household hazardous wastes properly. Search RecyclingA-Z.com to learn how to properly dispose of any material.