Recycling vs Wish-cycling: Does that belong in a Blue Bin?

A recent Star Tribune article coined the term “wish-cycling”. It refers to items that don’t really belong in those blue bins (now carts); you throw in there as wishful thinking. Not only are these items non-recyclable, but they actually hurt the recycling process.

Wish-cycling: Keep these out of the Blue Bins

  • Plastic Bags:
    Grocery, Ziploc, bread, and other plastic-film based bags are the biggest problem for curbside recycling facilities. During the sorting process, they wind around spinning shafts and clog the machines. So, what can you do with these bags? Use them in small wastebaskets, wash and reuse them, or bring them to a nearby drop-off location.
  • Pouches:
    You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy a refreshing Capri Sun or a hiker to enjoy trail mix. But these packages are often made of more than one material – like plastic or aluminum – which is difficult to separate for recycling. Because they flatten by nature, they can also be mistaken for paper by separating machines.
  • Shredded Paper:
    You can’t be too careful with your personal information, but shredded documents are too small to be detected. They wind up contaminating other recycling streams – usually glass. The best way to dispose of shredded waste is to put it in closed paper bags.
  • Miscellaneous Glass:
    Not all glass is created equal! The truth is that glass used for drinking cups, windows, and bottles all melts at different temperatures. This means trouble for single-sort facilities. Specialty facilities can dispose of them. Or, if they’re gently used, you can donate them.
This wish-cycling list covers a fraction of non-recyclables that you may mistake for recyclable. Learn more about recycling in Saint Paul by clicking here. Minneapolis residents can click here. Or peruse our Trash Talk blog for related articles. Feature Image: