Avoid Contamination in Recycling

1 min read

Each year tons of undesirable garbage get thrown into recycling bins, and millions of dollars are spent to purify and remove items from the recycling stream. This contamination has contributed to the collapse of the recycling industry.

According to The Mercury News, in California, “more than 450 recycling centers statewide have closed in the last year.” For recycling, “there is no state more important than California, the source of two out of every 11 beverage containers recycled in the country.”

High levels of contamination in recycling streams are the greatest factor in the collapse of the recycling system. Profitability is lost through the process of removing contamination, essentially weakening the economics of the industry.

An emptied waste bin drop-off sits on M-A's campus.
An emptied waste bin drop-off sits on M-A’s campus.

According to Recycle Across America, the largest recycling haulers such as Waste Management (which takes care of M-A’s recycling) often own landfills. Recycle Across America stated, “recycling is dysfunctional and highly contaminated, much of the unsold contaminated recycling. . . ends up having to be sent to landfills.” Thus “haulers who also own major landfills benefit considerably from the increase in landfill revenues. This is extremely unfortunate, because unlike other industries, the downfall of recycling affects us all.”

At M-A, all recyclable materials such as paper, cans, and bottles get placed into one bin, and the company Waste Management later sorts out the materials. Since all the materials are in the same stream, it is important to keep the recycling bins clean of contaminants. Read the tips below and see how to recycle properly.

Although M-A does not have a running compost system at the moment, we have a great recycling system, so take advantage of it and recycle correctly!

Erica Miner is a senior, this will be her second year on staff and first year as the media specialist. She enjoys photography and film and focuses on multimedia production. For her last year of high school, she hopes to contribute unique and meaningful content.

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