How clean is CLEAN?
For years we have been told by recycling programs to, “Ensure your recyclables are CLEAN.” The term ‘Clean’ is a difficult one to determine because everyone has a different perception of clean. So the real question becomes, “How clean is CLEAN”?
Before we begin, we must understand the WHY. “Why must our recyclables be clean?” There are many reasons, but it ultimately comes down to one simple factor. In order for your recyclables to be made into a new marketable product, someone has to be willing to buy the compacted bales of recyclables and remake them into something new. Once the bale has reached its final destination, it will be broken apart and the recyclables will be inspected. In most cases, if the product is too contaminated with moldy food residues or heavily soiled with oils or liquids, manufacturers will reject the material or worst send it to the landfill. Valuable time and energy have been placed into a product that is no longer deemed ‘valuable’ all due to contamination.
In order for your recyclables to end up in the correct place, we ask citizens to do their best to clean containers and bottles as to not contaminate other recyclable material. This includes rinsing out milk jugs and emptying the contents of that yogurt container. So, “How clean is CLEAN?” The answer to the question is, “Use your own discretion and try your best to get those containers as clean as you can.” For example, if you deem the top portion of your pizza box has been too soiled with oil, rip it off and place it into your compost or waste bin and place the rest of the clean cardboard in the recycle bin. If we all put in a little effort, we can work towards eliminating recyclables from getting a life sentence at the landfill.
Over the years, this rinsing requests has illustrated to be difficult to our society. We understand that water is a valuable resource for all communities. Loraas is here to help give you valuable tips on how to clean your recyclables by following the “Loraas 3 Rinse Hints”:
- Rinse. Rinsing your containers is by far the best solution in combating contamination within the recycling stream. Use a small amount of water to ensure your recyclables are clean of unwanted residues. Add water, swirl or shake, and then dispose of this liquid mixture in the correct waste place. For tough residues, such as liquid detergent in laundry jugs, leaving a small amount of suds after rinsing a few times is okay. If your best scrubbing efforts still will not remove that baked-on food residue from disposable aluminum pans or trays, we recommend removing the portions that will never meet your standards of clean and discarding them. This way we can ensure companies who buy the product will indeed recycle your trays instead of trash the whole tray due to a small section with contamination.
- Wipe. The second best solution is to wipe out your containers using a reusable or disposable towel. This will not remove all of the unwanted contents however, it may prevent those materials from escaping during the recycling process; soiling clean paper or cardboard.
- Shake. For those moments you cannot get to a faucet or paper towel dispenser, the last option is to shake out the contents. This works the best for liquids. For example, before you place that pop bottle into the recycle bin give it a shake over your compost bin to remove any excess liquids that may have leaked onto other clean single-stream recyclables in the bin.