Thursday, March 23, 2023

Know what to throw: Residents asked to adopt better recycling habits

Recycling is a great idea, but there is right way to do it.

Republic Services is aiming to cut down on contaminated recycling by educating residents on proper disposal habits.

According to an audit conducted by Republic Services last March, 24.9% of all recycling in Flower Mound was contaminated, an increase since the start of the pandemic.

“That’s just below the national average of 25%, but well over where we’d like the rate to be,” the town said in a recent news release.

Recycling contaminants are items that belong in the trash because of food, drink and other residues, or simply items that aren’t recyclable. Just one dirty bottle or unrecyclable item can contaminate the contents of whole recycling truck.

“Once contamination goes into the load, the entire load can become contaminated when compacted by the truck,” said Jeri Harwell, municipal services manager for Republic Services. “Even a few drops from a Coke bottle or grease from a pizza box can get all over everything.”

Harwell said this contamination became a bigger issue a couple years ago when China stopped accepting recycled material from the U.S.

“Now, to sell the material, you have to have very little contamination,” she said.

Some important tips for recycling:

  • Empty, clean and dry – soiled or wet materials can’t be recycled. Once cardboard or paper comes into contact with food or liquid, it can’t be recycled.
  • When in doubt, throw it out – If you don’t know if an item can be recycled and can’t easily find the answer, throw it away instead of risking contaminating an entire load of recycled items.
  • Know what to throw – items that can be recycled – uncontaminated flattened cardboard, newspapers, magazines, office paper, common mail, metal beverage and food cans, glass and plastic bottles and jugs.
  • Don’t bag it – No connected or mixed materials can be recycled. Never put recyclables in containers or bags.
  • Green waste material should never be put in recycling bins.

For more information, go to

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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