Countdown to Earth Day Tip #3: Recycle Often, Recycle Right!

Countdown to Earth Day Tip #3: Recycle Often, Recycle Right!

  • There’s no need to wait until Earth Day on April 22 to start celebrating our planet and becoming more engaged in taking care of its precious resources. This article is part of a series of tips on how to “go green” in Kane County — 15 in all, one for every business day before Earth Day. Use them to tap into your inner eco-mindfulness and let your green spirit shine brighter than ever!
  • This article was written by Molly Center, communications specialist from the city of Elgin. 

Tip #3: Recycling Often, Recycling Right!

The world of recycling is always changing. Markets impact industry practices, and this can lead to a lot of confusion as to what can and cannot go into residential recycling programs.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, comprising 17.7 percent of all U.S. methane emissions. It’s important to divert waste from the landfill and recycle items. Many are mindful of this and participate in recycling. But as our material streams and consumer packaging changes, it’s often difficult for consumers to know whether materials are recyclable.

Recycle Often. Recycle Right.℠ is a campaign developed by Waste Management to promote proper recycling habits. Regardless of your waste hauler, the campaign is effective in helping residents get back to the basics of recycling.  Recycle Often. Recycle Right.℠ seeks to simplify recycling in a world of complex materials by asking people to follow three simple rules when recycling:

  • Recycle all empty bottles, cans, paper and cardboard.
  • Keep food and liquids out of the recycling.
  • Empty recyclables directly into your cart – No plastic bags.

Curbside programs vary by municipality, geographical areas, and other factors. Just because an item, usually plastic, contains a recycling symbol, does not mean that it is acceptable in residential curbside programs. So, if residents focus on the three simple rules and recycle all their bottles, cans, paper and cardboard, they can be confident that they are recycling the most valuable materials that are universally accepted.

Fun fact: Two items that continually end up in recycling carts that don’t belong are pizza boxes and plastic bags. Pizza boxes can only be recycled if they are not soiled with any food or grease. (Refer to Rule 2).

And please don’t bag your recyclables in plastic bags — empty your recyclables directly into your cart. Plastic bags can interfere with the sorting machinery and shut down a recycling plant. (Refer to Rule 3.) Look for drop-off bins at your local grocery stores for proper plastic bag recycling.

For specific questions about your curbside program, contact your recycling hauler. For more information on Waste Management’s RORR campaign, visit

Read the Countdown to Earth Day Series!