Recycling in Delaware

Did you know that shredded paper should not be placed in your recycling bin? Well it wasn’t until recently that I learned this as I had assumed since it was paper it was recyclable, but it’s not. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Now that we are living in Smyrna and don’t pay for private hauling, I wanted to make sure that we were doing it right. The first week I mixed up the cans and put the recyclables in the regular bin because it was green! When in doubt, throw it out don’t recycle it.

Trash bin in Smyrna
Recycling in Delaware

Tips for Recycling

  • Place items loosely in the bin, not in a garbage bag.
  • Recycle plastic grocery bags at the store.
  • Rinse all containers of liquid or food residue.
  • Don’t crush aluminum cans or plastic bottles.
  • Put the lid back on plastic bottles.

For the complete guide for recycling in Delaware – click this link

1. Plastic Bags: You’d be surprised how many people put plastic shopping bags into their recycling bin. The problem with soft plastic bags is that they can clog machines and slow down operations while workers remove the bags by hand. It is becoming a law so get into the habit now of bringing your own reusable tote bags when you’re out shopping. If you do use the store’s plastic bags you can return and put them in a recycling bin located in front of many grocery stores.

2. Pizza Boxes: If it has food stains or grease on it, it shouldn’t be placed in the recycling bin. Boxes with a shiny interior are most often lined with plastic and cannot be recycled nor composted, unless your local municipality accepts them. Napkins and paper towels should always go in the compost.  

3. Gift Wrap: Shiny, metallic wrapping paper and decorative ribbons do not belong in recycling. Glittery cards are also non-recyclable and can contaminate an entire bin of paper. When wrapping a gift, opt for an unlaminated paper like newspaper, paper bags or butcher paper. A good way to test if your gift paper is recyclable is to crumple it into a ball—if it stays bunched up, it’s most likely recyclable. If not, re-use it or throw it away. 

4. Small metal bits: While bits of metal like soda can tabs and aluminum candy wrappers are technically recyclable, their small size makes them hard to detect and can often jam recycling machinery. To avoid this issue, keep soda tabs attached to the can or drop them inside the can when you’re done. Save small bits of aluminum foil until it forms a large ball or place them inside an aluminum can and crimp the top shut before you place the entire can into recycling. 

Aluminum Foil Ball
Foil Ball

5. Receipts: The thermal cash register receipts you receive from a grocery store or boutique are made from paper, however, they also contain Bisphenol A, aka BPA which is a cancer causing chemical. When you recycle receipts, the BPA that they contain gets processed with other paper pulp and contaminates the recycled paper products that are being produced. It’s best to ask for no receipt which I normally do and some stores will ask as well. Oh, and if you do get a receipt make sure to wash your hands when you get home.

6. Food Residue: Cleaning out food and beverage containers before you recycle them is just as important as placing them in the right bin. Food residue and liquids left in take out containers, peanut butter jars and even wine bottles can contaminate an entire truckload of recyclables. Containers don’t have to be perfectly clean, but they should be rinsed and washed with soap if they’re greasy. 

7. Broken Crockery: We’re all prone to breaking things, you do remember my Crock Pot disaster? Unfortunately, broken plates, ceramics, porcelain, mirrors, light bulbs, cups, wine glasses and pyrex have different melting points and chemical compositions compared to recyclable glass and belong in the trash. Donate plates, cups and glasses in good working condition, and reuse broken crockery for another purpose at home or a craft project. 

8. Sanitary Products & Dirty Diapers: No – No – No!!! It’s no surprise that sanitary products and dirty diapers should never be placed in the recycling bin. Whether they are clean or dirty, they go in the trash. After all sanitary napkins and pads are already made from recycled trash!

9. Shredded Paper: Again, this was a surpise to me as a business owner and shredding junkie. Shredded documents and small bits of paper are too small and fall through the cracks that can clog recycling equipment.

10. Coffee Cups: Most to-go coffee cups are lined with a plastic film that makes them liquid proof, and difficult to recycle. The plastic lid might be recyclable, but it will depend on what type of plastic is accepted your local municipality. The paper heat sleeve that goes around the cup to protect your hand is really the only part of a to-go coffee cup that is likely recyclable or compostable. Better yet, say no to disposable cups and bring your own reusable coffee cup with you when you’re on the go. 

11. Paperboard Boxes: Freezer food boxes and ice cream cartons contain a plastic polymer to prevent freezer burn. Unfortunately, this plastic coating prevents the box or carton from breaking down in the recycling process. Gable-topped milk and juice cartons are also made from a paper/plastic hybrid to prevent leaks and shelf stable cartons (sold in a rectangular box) contain additional plastic and aluminum layers, making them even more difficult to recycle. While some municipalities accept cartons for recycling, many do not, so it is best to check. 

Do you take your own bags when out shopping?

4 thoughts on “When in Doubt, Throw it Out Don’t Recycle it

  1. Happy New Decade!! I did not know about the shredded paper. I do take my own bags when I shop at Aldi, but that is not often.

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