Has a plastic tub in your blue recycling bin been left behind by the City of Dalton’s curbside collection truck? Wondering what types of plastics can actually be recycled in Whitfield County convenience centers? Not sure if a laundry detergent jug can go in the same bin as a plastic water bottle? Do the little numbers embossed on the bottom of some containers confuse you? Recycling plastic doesn’t have to be confusing, especially when you keep the following tips in mind.
To identify the right containers to recycle you just need to look at the shape of the container. In our community, we can recycle only plastic bottles, jugs, and jars. These containers have a neck that is smaller than the base, and may also have a screw on lid, cap, squeeze cap with a hinged lid, dispensing pump, or sprayer. As you look around your home you may find these containers in the kitchen, storage room, and even the bathroom. Some of the containers that fit this description are milk jugs, water bottles, liquid soap dispensers, mayonnaise jars, laundry detergent jugs, shampoo bottles, window cleaning spray, and soda bottles.
To prepare these containers for recycling first empty the contents, rinse away food residue, and crush if possible to save space in your recycling bin. It’s ok to leave the label and lid on the containers. The only plastic bottles, jugs, and jars that should not go in the recycling bin are those used for petroleum-based products like motor oil and hydraulic fuel. Plastic bottles, jugs, and jars that are recyclable account for 95 percent of plastic containers, by weight, found in the home. To find out where to recycle visit www.dwswa.org and choose Recycling 101.
While many types of plastics are recyclable we are limited in our community to bottles, jugs, and jars at this time. You may have yogurt cups, butter tubs, or take out food containers that are plastic, but it’s important to not mix those with the other containers in your recycling bins since they are not officially accepted for recycling right now. Plastic drinking cups, clam shells for fruit, plastic plates, and utensils, and even plastic bags are considered contaminants for local recycling. If you put a yogurt cup in the recycling bin it might be left behind by the curbside recycling collection truck since it is not the right shape. Even though we can’t recycle all plastics locally there are several alternatives for the remaining items.
Plastic bags and plastic film like the wrapper for paper towel rolls can be recycled at local retail stores. Usually, the store where you received a plastic shopping bag will have a recycling bin at the main entrance just for plastic bags. According to www.abagslife.com, you can mix plastic shopping bags with plastic wrap and film. Newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, bread bags, and furniture wrap can all be recycled together if they are clean and dry.
Yogurt cups and plastic tubs with the plastic resin code number five are recyclable through the program Gimme 5 by Preserve Products (www.preserveproducts.com/recycle). You can drop off clean and dry containers at Whole Foods in Chattanooga or mail them in directly to the company. These plastic containers are used to make toothbrush handles, razors, plastic plates, utensils, and more. These new products are sold under the name brand Preserve. In turn, these new products are also recyclable, so when you are done using the Preserve brand toothbrush you can mail it in for recycling.
Plastic drinking cups like the iconic SOLO brand cup can also be recycled through a mail-in program offered by Terracycle (www.terracycle.com). They specialize in transforming hard to recycle materials into useful new products. There are many types of products accepted available so it’s best to read the information on their website before you begin collecting items. Some programs have fees while others have quantity requirements which may mean you are storing recyclables for a long time. Some recyclable products offer free shipping labels or rewards points you can use towards your school or a non-profit.