Reduce and Reuse: A Handy Guide to Recycling in California
Recycling in California seems to have a lot of rules.
We know the benefits of recycling, but we aren’t always clear on the details.
Is this paper or plastic? Can you recycle styrofoam? Where does cardboard go? Who knew there were so many issues when it comes to your recycling bins?
The good news is that once you have the right information about recycling, you can start contributing to the health of the planet.
We’re here to take the guess work out of recycling. This essential guide to recycling will help you figure out what needs to go where, and what can or can’t be recycled.
Start doing your part to reduce and reuse now!
Recycling in California: The Lowdown
California has a really bad reputation for high pollution rates and waste.
The heat mixed with the pollution from large populated areas like Los Angeles mixes to create the smog California is known for. In fact, in 2016, officials said that the state’s pollution kills about 1,300 people per year.
But the future can change. Recycling can drastically improve pollution levels and help to reduce damage to the environment caused by human waste.
So what is California doing to help reduce its carbon footprint? Here are some of the initiatives that the state’s government has taken so far to help promote recycling and reduce waste:
- Last year, California became the first state in the country to enforce a plastic bag ban.
- As of April 1, 2016, all California businesses are required by law to recycle their organic waste.
- In 2015, California’s government signed bill SB 1383, which enforces a 75% reduction in waste for the whole state by 2025.
Now that’s some positive change coming our way in the next decade!
How to Sort Recycling
It’s extremely important that you understand how to sort your recycling because some places won’t collect it if it isn’t sorted properly.
Here are your essential recycle categories and what is included in each one:
- Paper: All paper can be recycled together, unless it’s coated with plastic or wax, like food wrappers. Recyclable paper products include newspapers, magazines, envelopes, and paper bags. You can leave staples attached.
- Cardboard: Break down your cardboard before you recycle it and make sure there’s no tape, food waste, or wax on it. You can even use a cardboard box as a makeshift recycling bin for these products.
- Glass: Any color glass bottle can be recycled, including milk bottles, wine and beer bottles, and pop bottles. Make sure they’re rinsed and don’t contain any food residue.
- Plastic: Plastics numbers 1 to 7 are recyclable. If you’re having trouble determining what type of plastic you have, check this guide. Plastic bags are not recyclable, and neither are candy wrappers.
- Aluminum and Steel: Aluminum cans are fully recyclable and can go in your bin with plastic and glass.
Glass, plastic, and aluminum containers can be recycled together in a bin. Paper, however, needs to be in its own bin.
You can also bring in your beverage containers for a cash refund. Check the bottles and make sure they have the refund value logo printed on the bottle, and then bring them to your nearest recycling depot. To find yours, enter your ZIP code here.
Can You Recycle Styrofoam?
This is a question that often confuses many people. We’re here to give you the right answer and solve this dilemma for you in the future.
Did you know that Styrofoam is actually a branded trademark? Just like Kleenex has become the common term for tissue, Styrofoam has become the term for expanded polystyrene.
Polystyrene is also known as foam #6. A label is usually on the bottom of the container.
Polystyrene usually comes in the form of takeout food containers, some packing peanuts (but not all of them), and foam product packaging.
So, can you recycle it?
The problem is there’s no specific yes or no answer. It depends on your county, city, or town’s recycling center. Some locations have the facilities to accept and process foam, but some don’t.
Contact your local recycling center to find out if they can take foam products. If they do, feel free to toss it in your bin. But make sure you’ve rinsed it out first.
What Electronics Can I Recycle?
In California, and many other states, there are electronics recycling programs you can use to make sure your used electronics get to the right place.
For cell phones, some service providers have programs where you can bring in your used phone to get a discount on a brand new one. If you’re in the market for a new phone, it’s worth it to save money and reduce hazardous waste.
In California, it’s illegal to throw away large electronic items, like televisions and computer monitors, in your garbage. To find an electronics recycling program in your county, use the California Recycle search tool.
Recycling Used Household Items
The best way to recycle used household items is to sell them on sites like Craigslist or donate them to charity stores.
This way, someone else can use them and give them new life. And you can even try to make a bit of a profit from them.
If you know someone who’s really crafty, there are tons of repurposing websites and ideas on Pinterest that you can try.
Don’t let these products end up in landfills if they don’t need to!
Drink Milk in Glass Bottles to Boost Recycling and Reduce Waste
When you choose to drink your milk in glass bottles, you’re helping to support recycling programs in your area.
Glass is one of the most recyclable packaging options you can use. It also helps keep your milk fresher and better tasting.
When you recycle glass products, good things happen. Recycling conserves energy and reduces pollution. Not only that, but glass can be used over and over for an unlimited amount of time.
When you participate in home milk delivery, your glass bottles are recycled again and again. The driver will come and collect your empty bottles and replace them with fresh, full ones. And the cycle continues just like that.
Sound appealing? Find a local dairy near you and sign up for home milk delivery now.