6 Ways to Prevent Wishcycling

Knowing what to recycle and how to recycle it prevents contamination. Placing something in the recycling bin because you wish it was recyclable is called “wishcycling” and makes recyclable materials less valuable for recycling markets. In addition, machines that sort and process recyclables can only manage certain items without causing sorting and processing problems. Only place known recyclable materials in the recycling bin.

Here are 6 items that are commonly wishcycled:

1. Loose Plastic Bags 

Plastic bags can jam up the machinery at the recycling facility — keep these out of the recycling bin, and place in garbage only.

2. Greasy Pizza Boxes

While unsoiled cardboard pizza boxes do belong in the recycling bin, boxes soiled with grease or marinara stains should go in your green waste/organic container! Any plastic coated boxes and those little plastic pizza tables should go in the trash. 

3. Bottles with Liquid Still Inside 

Plastic or glass bottles that are normally able to be recycled cannot go in the recycling bin if they still have liquid contents inside. Keep in mind that liquids can contaminate the items in your recycling bin and make them unrecyclable.

4. Styrofoam 

Polystyrene foam, also known as styrofoam, is not recyclable and belongs in your garbage bin.

5. Certain Types of Glass

Glass bottles and jars are recyclable. However, other types of glass, for example, pyrex, glassware, and wine and drinking glasses, have a different composition that do not allow them to be recycled. Keep in mind that broken glass is also not accepted in your recycling bin.

6. Loose Shredded Paper

Keep in mind that although a material, like paper, may be recyclable — it must be able to be captured and processed by machinery at the recycling facility in order to be recycled.  Loose shredded paper can get caught up between the machinery and cause problems.

To avoid such issues, place shredded paper in a clear plastic bag in the recyling bin. This will allow the shredded paper to be seen in a clear plastic bag and picked off the line when going through the recycling facility.

Recycle right! If you’re ever unsure, check your handy recycling guide for more information.