Friday, February 24, 2006

Plastics recycling: are dirty curbside finds recyclable?

Received in the mail:
As I walk through my neighborhood I sometimes take along a bag and collect trash bottles from the curbside. Some of these are awfully dirty, some even still have the caps on and are so dirty I avoid removing them. Is it OK to recycle these, regardless of their condition?
Thank you for your commitment to recycling, and for taking a bag along with you on your outings! (So often, I first remember the bag when I spot the litter, at which point it is, of course, too late. And, you can only carry so much in your hands...)

I put your question to our Recycling Center manager. He says that clean bottles are always preferable. Nonetheless, he would accept your "curbside finds" as-is, without any washing.

Before tossing the bottles into your blue bin for collection, please remove the lids. Why? The lids are most often made from a different plastic resin and through different molding processes than the bottles themselves. As a result, the lids would be "contaminants" in a bale of bottle plastic. So, please put those lids into the trash.

If this post inspires you to do more, consider learning more about Montgomery County's beautification and clean-up programs, including Adopt-A-Road and the Keep Montgomery County Beautiful task force.

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