What Goes Into the Trash & What is Mandatory Recycling?

What Can’t Go Into The Trash?

What Can't Go Into The Trash? Think Before You Toss

As municipalities expand their recycling programs to cover additional materials, consumers find themselves confused about exactly what goes into the trash or recycling. Although there is often a certain amount of gray area there are a few things that absolutely have to be recycled. Rather than asking what can go into bins for recycling, you might ask what can’t go into the trash.

Mandatory Recycling

Although most recycling programs are voluntary, there are areas of the country have implemented mandatory recycling programs. Some states have mandatory recycling programs only for commercial properties while others require it of residents as well. In addition, some towns have implemented their own laws requiring people to recycle even if their state programs are voluntary.

If you live in a mandatory recycling area then you need to check with your local program to find out what can’t go into the trash. Some designated items such as paper, plastic, and aluminum can go into bins for recycling but other items require other disposal. For example, some municipalities don’t allow residents to put grass clippings in the trash since it is better to leave the clippings on the lawn or compost them.

The Danger Of Heavy Metals

Lead, mercury, and other heavy metals are some of the worst environmental toxins around. These metals build up in the body so regular exposure to even small amounts can cause health problems, especially in growing children. When these metals are tossed in the trash they go into landfills and will eventually contaminate the water table and put the entire community at risk.

Heavy metals are most commonly found in electronics: televisions, computers, cell phones, and so on. The consumer culture that has people tossing electronics every year in favor of the new, cooler model has created an enormous waste stream of dangerous heavy metals. Although you can’t throw this into your municipal recycle container, many electronics stores have bins for recycling electronics. Charities accept cell phones and other electronics for refurbishment and distribution to veterans and other groups.

Everything Else

Ideally the answer to “What cannot go into the trash?” is “Everything!” In a perfect world, we would reuse, recycle or compost all of our waste. Realistically it’s more complicated than that. Look at every item you are about to throw away and ask if it would be better in bins for recycling. If it can’t be recycled, can some part of it be? Can you throw some in the trash and the rest into recycling?

If you have a yard then you should consider composting. You don’t need an expensive automatic composter. A plastic trash can with holes punched in it that you roll around manually now and then is all you need. You also don’t need a garden to take advantage of the compost. Sprinkle the finished compost around your yard to feed your lawn, trees and bushes.

Remember that just because something can’t go into bins for recycling doesn’t mean it should go into the trash. Think twice about what goes into the trash and you might find better disposal for most of your household and business waste.

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One Response to What Can’t Go Into The Trash?

  1. Pingback: Do you have questions about recycling? - Vintage Tech Recyclers

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