Everything you need to know about wishcycling
Wishcycling, also known as aspirational recycling, is when you put goods in the recycle bin even if you're not sure your city or municipality recycles that particular item. You can't bear the thought of such item ending up in a landfill, so you toss it in the recycling bin, thinking that it will be recycled and you have done the right thing. In sum, wish-cycling causes genuine havoc with the recycling system, resulting in more waste being dumped in landfills.
Why Does It Matter?
Many products are wishcycled by people. One of the most common are pizza boxes. While some areas may accept oily cardboard, many others will not. Mixed plastics, which cannot be broken down and reused, are frequently wish-cycled. Plastic bags, small plastic caps, and styrofoam are also prohibited from being placed in curbside bins. Tupperware and other plastic storage containers are frequently placed in recycling bins, but they are a form of plastic that just a few establishments accept.
The cardboard box in which your burger and fries arrived. Isn't it cardboard that can be recycled into paper? Again, the oily/sticky/greasy residue isn't good. It has an effect on the quality of recycled materials created afterwards. The foreign substance contaminates clean goods processed with that oily package or stuck-on food, rendering the entire batch worthless.
A peanut butter jar with a layer of peanut butter adhered to the bottom. It's made of recyclable plastic, which means it can be recycled. But in this situation, it can't. Sticky foods must be removed from recyclables. Melting the plastic necessitates extremely high temperatures, which might burn the stuck-on food. Forming new plastics from burned food waste would result in tainted plastic, which is undesirable. Take time to scrub the jar with a brush to remove the stuck on food and make it recyclable.
What if you placed something in the recycle bin that you shouldn't? You'll be given a warning in some locations. If you receive too many warnings, your curbside service may be suspended. It's possible that workers will have to sift recyclables by hand. Items that should have been thrown away are gathered and transported to the landfills by trucks. Fees and/or taxes rise as a result of the extra trucking.
Machines that sort recyclables might clog or malfunction in factories. Bags made of plastic are infamous for clogging up the system. Repairs and maintenance are costly and cause the processing cycle to slow down.
The Worst Offenders
Various towns have different regulations regarding what they accept, and you should visit your local trash management website to find out precisely what is recyclable in your area, but here are a few common offenders that you should either toss away, up-cycle, or avoid completely.
- Greasy/Soggy Pizza Boxes: If a pizza box or any other cardboard container has been drenched with food. It is not recyclable. The best course of action is to pull off the clean top, recycle it, and discard the oily bottom.
- Coffee Cups and any other wax coated cups i.e. fast food cups are not recyclable.
- Plastic Bottle Caps: While most bottles are recyclable, the majority of bottle caps are not. Before recycling, you should take them out.
- Pyrex or Wine Glasses: Any heat-treated glass cannot be recycled.
- Cups, Containers, and Other Items: Sometimes a product can't be recycled because of food or beverage contamination, wash it completely before discarding it.
- Clothing: If you have something you don't wear any longer, give it (donate it). If it's too late, there are several third-party solutions for repurposing old clothing.
- Batteries and electronics (E-WASTE): These cannot be thrown away in any bin. Batteries and gadgets contain a variety of toxic chemicals (Lead, cadmium etc.) and should be discarded or taken to the appropriate drop-off location.
- Low-Grade Plastic: Plastics numbers 3-7 are no longer accepted in several places. Snack bags, yogurt containers, butter tubs, toothpaste tubes, and vegetable containers are just a few of the worst offenders.
Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact
- Bring reusable shopping bags with you everywhere you go, not just to the grocery store. Make arrangements for your company to provide staff with robust reusable plastic bags or totes for personal use.
- Keep your cardboard clean and free of oil or food waste by keeping it separate from the rest of your recycling items.
- Purchase food in bulk, which requires less packing than single-serving items.
- Avoid purchasing plastic pouches, such as those used to store, snacks, trail mix, oatmeal, and many other children's meals or baby foods. Instead, buy nuts and oats in bulk, and if feasible, use your own containers.
- Use reusable plates and utensils instead of disposables. Styrofoam and several other forms of plastic (such as the kind used in red Solo cups) are difficult to recycle, however they are frequently wish-cycled.
- Create a collection point for plastic bags, such as a separate container near the garbage and recycling bins. Return them to a food shop where they may be properly recycled.
- Inform others about wish-cycling. Above trash and recycling containers, put reminders and checklists to assist users in determining if an item is actually recyclable.