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April 11, 2012

Good Intentions, Bad Recycling

I recycle everything I can.

In fact at our house we recycle so much, that we fill the bin and more before they come to collect it every two weeks.

However, could my good intentions actually be harming the recycling process and making things more difficult and costly?

Well, the answer is yes, after discovering this article: The Pizza Box Recycling Mystery.

A lot of the cardboard that we recycle are pizza boxes, but the grease inside the box makes them non-recyclable, and can actually contaminate and ruin a batch of recycled paper.

According to the article, “when paper products, like cardboard, are recycled, they are mixed with water and turned into a slurry. Since we all know water and oil don't mix, the issue is clear." “The oil causes great problems for the quality of the paper,especially the binding of the fibers. It puts in contaminants, so when they do squeeze the water out, it has spots and holes."

Contamination isn’t just an issue in the paper recycling process; it’s also an issue for all types of recycling. “Some estimates put the costs of irresponsible contamination in the neighborhood of $700 million per year industry-wide.”

After reading that article, I found Murray City’s recycling webpage and read up on what I can, and can’t recycle. I encourage everyone to do the same for the city they live in.

It’s easy to hinder the recycling process when you don’t know exactly what to throw in your recycling bin, even when you have the best intentions.

Here are general Recycling Paper Do’s and Don’ts (BUT, be sure to check your local recycling webpage as the local options may be different).

DO Recycle:

  • Office paper (e.g. letterhead, copy paper, business forms) and photocopies
  • Color paper
  • Newspapers
  • Index Cards
  • Computer Printouts
  • Envelopes and folders (remove adhesive flaps and plastic windows)
  • Standard business cards
  • Brochures,magazines, newsletters, unclassified reports, books and telephone directories(remove plastic covers, plastic-coated paper and ring binders)
  • Corrugated cardboard and toilet roll cartridges
  • Packaging paperboard (if not on plastic-coated paper)
DON'T recycle:
  • Adhesive removable notes
  • Overhead transparencies
  • Carbon paper
  • Blueprint paper
  • Cellophane
  • Lunch boxes,paper cups or plates
  • Napkins, tissue, paper towel
  • Film
  • Self adhesive stickers or those with glue or tape
  • Foil gift wraps
  • Paper or cardboard that is contaminated with paint, chemicals, food, etc.
  • Thermal fax paper
  • Stickers
  • Plastic laminated paper
  • Sanitary products
If you live in the Salt Lake Area, go to the Recycling in Salt Lake County page, click on your city and read the Do’s and Don’ts for your city.

If you are not in the Salt Lake area, click the links below for more general information about what can and can’t be recycled.

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