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Recycling News YOU Can Use: Only flatten cardboard and corrugated boxes! No crushing other containers!
This article is written by Julia Linares, AmeriCorps member with the Chicago-area Greenest Region Corps and a fellow for Cook County’s Department of Environment and Sustainability
Although flattening containers, like cartons, plastic
bottles, and cans, may save room in your recycling bin, please refrain from
crushing these items as it leads to issues in single stream recycling systems.
However, you can still flatten cardboard & corrugated boxes (see benefits of flattening boxes below).
At home, do you put all your recyclables into one bin for
curbside collection? Then your recyclables are part of a single stream
recycling system. The burden of sorting is on the materials recovery facility (MRF)
to determine the composition of each material. The catch: mistakes can happen.
If a container is in an unfamiliar shape, like a crushed can or water bottle,
then it may be mistaken as a different material and sorted incorrectly. For
this reason, do not flatten containers, except cardboard & corrugated boxes.
Keep containers (except cardboard &
corrugated boxes) in their original shape for the best chance of proper
corrugated boxes can ALWAYS be flattened.
While boxes have a high national recycling rate, with over
88% of corrugated boxes recycled in 2017 (US
Environmental Protection Agency), we can still aim to increase efficiency
while recycling boxes. One easy way: always
flatten your boxes.
Benefits of breaking down cardboard & corrugated boxes:
- Gives you more room in your recycling bin
- Limits recyclables getting lodged in your bin
- Reduces space in transport to recycling facility
- Increases productivity in recycling process