You can recycle more than you think

By Alisa Reckinger
Guest Columnist

You may have the basics of curbside recycling down. You put bottles, cans, cardboard, and paper in your bin; you avoid wish cycling; and you generally know what to throw. But there is more you can do! Recycle even more by adding another room to your recycling routine or utilizing drop-off locations for items that can’t be recycled curbside.
This, not that
Don’t be afraid to ask for help on what you can recycle. There are resources available that will help you find the best way to dispose of almost any item. Or start adding more items to your recyclable list like glossy paper, toiletry boxes, laundry detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, and cartons.
Know what to throw by remembering these tips:
•Recycle food and drink cartons. Don’t recycle food and drink pouches.
•Recycle paper. Don’t recycle paper soiled with food like napkins. Compost it!
•Recycle plastic egg cartons. Don’t recycle Styrofoam egg cartons.
•Recycle food and beverage bottles and jars. Don’t recycle drinking glasses.
The winning combination
Get the most out of your recycling program and make sure to keep wish cycling items out of your curbside bin. If your recycling cart is full by the time your pick-up day comes around, but your garbage can still has room in it, you should be proud of yourself. By ensuring that everything in your cart is recyclable and safe for facilities, you avoid the problems created by wish cycling like wasting time, money and creating more waste. Don’t forget that “not accepted in curbside bins” doesn’t mean “not recyclable.” Use drop-off locations for items that can’t be recycled curbside to bring your habits to the next level.
There, not here
Some items that cause problems for facilities are still recyclable via drop-off options and county facilities. Keep those items out of the garbage can and use recycling options instead. It’s worth the trip!
Did you know you can recycle these?
•Plastic bags: Don’t put them in the recycling bin. They cause problems for recycling facilities. Use plastic film recycling collection boxes.
•Clothing and textiles: Clothes can be donated. Some cities have curbside textile recycling or drop-off programs.
•Organics and food waste: There are curbside organics programs like those in Minneapolis as well as drop-off options like those in Ramsey County. You also can put those items to work by composting in your backyard.
•Mattresses: They are big and bulky, but ninety percent of a mattress is recyclable!
Some items may not seem recyclable because they are considered household hazardous waste, but county household hazardous waste drop-off sites can help keep them out of your garbage.
•Batteries: They may be small, but they can be a big problem for recycling machines. County facilities and retail outlets accept many types of batteries.
•Scrap metal: It may be dangerous for workers and cause problems with machinery, but it has value if brought to a scrap yard or county facility
•Paint: Use a recycling option like a county drop-off site or a PaintCare retail location.
•Motor oil and oil filters: Oil can be made into new oil products. Bring motor oil and filters to a county HHW site or seek a collection option at an automotive service center.
Here, there and everywhere
Maximize your recycling efforts by recycling at home with your curbside bins, at work, out and about, and by bringing items to drop-off locations. Make recycling easy with signs when possible. Look for recycling options and ask for them if you don’t see them!

Minnesotans recycle over 2.3 million tons of paper, glass, metals, plastics, yard waste, and more each year, which create new products, such as cans, cardboard, newspaper, carpet, clothing and furniture. RethinkRecycling.com, provided by the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board, is your go-to guide for waste and recycling in the Twin Cities.