Want to recycle and save money? Get with the program


Good recycling is important for a lot of reasons. First, it is good for the environment. Ever- growing and toxic landfills are becoming a major problem. But there is a more practical reason to recycle: It reduces our taxes. Each town in Rhode Island pays "tipping" fees for the trash it brings to the landfill (based on total tonnage), but there are no fees for recyclables. In July of this year, the tipping fees will go up. If we all recycle diligently, we may avoid a property tax increase, or even see our taxes go down. If you are a renter, this will affect you too, since your landlord factors the cost of taxes into the rent. Below are some tips which will help you to recycle more effectively. The accuracy of this information has been verified with the R.I. Resource Recovery Corp. (RIRRC).

How to recycle:

n Recyclables should be put in your recycling bin loose. Any recyclables that are put in plastic bags are treated as trash. It is okay to put recyclables in your bin in paper grocery bags, but only if the bags are open so that the recyclables shake out during processing. The one exception to the no-plastic-bags rule is that shredded paper should be double-bagged in clear plastic bags (clear so that sorters can easily recognize them). Shredded paper recycled loose will gum up the machinery. (Please do not shred paper unless necessary; it is more trouble for the RIRRC to handle shreds than full sheets of paper.)

n Do not mix recyclables with trash. Some people will put bags of mixed trash and recyclables in their bins with the expectation that someone will wade through it all and pull out the recyclables, but the RIRRC does not have the manpower to do that.

n Cans, bottles, jars and other containers should be empty (at a minimum) and preferably rinsed clean before recycling. Food or non-food residue creates problems during the recycling process, so please rinse all containers. If you are throwing out a full container, such as an out-of-date bottle of tomato sauce, please empty the jar, rinse it, and then recycle it. Water should be drained from water bottles. Aluminum foil and trays, which are also recyclable, should be rinsed. You do not need to remove labels. No food should be put in the recycling bin.

n Caps and lids should be recycled. Plastic caps/lids should be attached to plastic containers (but not glass containers). Metal caps should be separated from bottles and jars. Loose plastic caps should be discarded.

n Cardboard boxes should be flattened and NOT tied. Paper should NOT be tied into bundles. As recently as 2012, the RIRRC wanted cardboard and paper to be tied, but that has changed. Also, do not tear boxes or paper into pieces; small pieces just fall through the system. As stated above, shredded paper should be double-bagged in clear plastic bags and then sealed.

n Do not put one recyclable item inside another. Also, different kinds of recyclables should be recycled separately. This is a common mistake. Let's say that you buy a box of

chocolates. After finishing the box, you should not recycle it with the plastic insert still inside. After shaking out any remaining chocolate bits, the top, bottom and plastic insert should be recycled separately. (The RIRRC does not have the manpower to open boxes to see what's inside.) If you buy a product with styrofoam inserts, remove the styrofoam from the box and recycle the box separately. If you buy boxed wine, pull out the inner plastic bladder before flattening and recycling the box. Blister packs—those plastic bubbles that come attached to cardboard—should be pulled off the cardboard, and then each should be recycled separately. If you buy a product encased in hard plastic, recycle the plastic, but be sure to remove any cardboard or documentation first, and recycle those separately.

n Please keep your recycling bin covered or on your porch. Unfortunately, the RIRRC stopped stocking recycling bin covers because there was little demand for them (a mistake, in my opinion). Cardboard, and especially paper, lose their recycling value if they become soaked with rain. Also, if wet paper adheres to cans and bottles, everything may be thrown away, including the cans and bottles.

n Where to get bins: If you are not in Warren, please contact your town to find out where to get bins. If you are in Warren, you can go to 21 Birch Swamp Road (M-F, 7:30-11:45, 12:30-3:30; Sat. 8-12) (bins cost $5 each). If you are a renter, your landlord may be willing to get a bin for you. You may also buy your own bin from a hardware store. If you do, please buy one which is blue, says “Recycling” on it (or has the recycling symbol ), and has a hinged lid. 
What to recycle:

n Plastic containers of all kinds (except styrofoam) for both food and non-food items. Jars, jugs, tubs, bottles, cups, buckets, deli containers, plastic squeeze tubes (empty), deodorant sticks (with remaining deodorant removed), flower pots and blister packs. Plastic containers can be recycled up to 5 gallons in size. As stated above, all plastic containers should be empty (at a minimum) and preferably rinsed clean (you aren’t expected to rinse squeeze tubes). Caps should be left on only if they are made of plastic. You do not need to remove labels.

n Metal cans, metal lids, aerosol cans and aluminum foil and trays. All should be rinsed, except aerosol cans, which need only be emptied. You do not need to remove labels.

n Glass bottles and jars. All should be rinsed. Caps should be removed. If you have a candle in a jar, be n Cardboard and paper of all kinds. This includes the cardboard tubes from rolls of toilet paper and paper towels, but not toilet paper or paper towels themselves (even if clean). Both brown and gray cardboard boxes can be recycled, and both should be flattened. Nothing should be tied. Also recycle waxed paper cartons that contained liquids (e.g., milk, juice, soy milk, broth, juice boxes), but please rinse them out first. Hardcover books can be recycled if you remove the covers, or they may be given to your local library. Do not recycle refrigerated or frozen food boxes or paper ice cream containers. Those items are impregnated

with a chemical that keeps them looking fresh in the freezer, but which prevents them from being recyclable. If the bottom of a pizza box is very greasy, recycle the top only.

Nothing else should be recycled. No wood, plastic toys, Venetian blinds, plastic or metal hangers, pots and pans, etc. Since 2012, only containers and paper products have been recyclable.

Other household items:

Old clothes (even if not wearable) should be put in community recycling bins (there are many around the state). Plastic bags (including dry-cleaner bags) should be brought to the supermarket. Hard-cover books can be brought to the library. Pill bottles (empty) can be brought to any of the large pharmacy chains (local pharmacies may not accept them). Hazardous substances should be brought to the town waste station.

Styrofoam is a problematic item. Because it has a rough surface, it tends to pick up dirt easily, so the RIRRC doesn’t recycle it. If you want to go the extra mile, you can mail your styrofoam to a recycler (see the address for the glossary below); otherwise, it should be trashed. Leaving styrofoam inserts in a box just means that the box will be trashed too.

The RIRRC maintains an alphabetical glossary on the internet which tells you what to do with every kind of item: http://atoz.rirrc.org/glossary

Note: Mr. Murdock is a Warren resident.


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Caleb Murdock

Those n's should be bullets, and there are a couple incorrect line breaks in the article.

I just want to add to what I wrote that residents who recycle diligently will generally have more recyclables than trash. A good strategy is to keep two recycling bins in your kitchen, one for paper products and another for everything else. The recycling bin that contains paper should be put out only on days that it doesn't rain. The bin for your cans & bottles will remain clean if you put only clean recyclables in it.

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