- Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of COVID-19-related recycling tips from Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question or idea for a recycling tip? Contact Jarland at 630-208-3841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the time of COVID, the waste and recycling industry is dealing with new problem materials.
Reminder: PPE and sanitization wipes are not recyclable.
As articles in the past couple weeks have addressed, Personal Protective Equipment (gloves, masks, and medical equipment) are not recyclable and should go in the trash.
Reusable washable masks and gloves are a good way to minimize waste. Additionally, all sanitization wipes should go in the trash, and not in the recycling!
Delivery Packaging: Most is recyclable, some is not.
As Amazon and other online orders increase, recycling facilities are seeing a lot more packaging materials. Most of them are highly recyclable, like cardboard boxes and paper.
Some things, like plastic mailers and plastic pillow packing, can be taken to a grocery store drop-off to be recycled. But some materials are just plain old trash. Please see list below for recycling guidance on common packaging materials.
Cardboard boxes: Flatten and recycle in your curbside cart.
Cardboard is highly recyclable, and we want it in the recycling bins! Please remove all packing materials from the box (see below for instructions on these) and flatten all boxes before putting them in your bin.
This will offer you more space in your cart, and also allows for correct separation of this material at the sorting facility.
As you may know already, many communities have currently suspended bulk collections and are not collecting items outside of the carts because of the risk to waste haulers who come into contact with these items. So you may need to cut boxes down with a box-cutter to fit them all in.
Plastic wraps: Some are recyclable at grocery stores.
Some plastic wraps or flexible plastic packing can be recycled through grocery store plastic bag recycling programs, but please do not put them in your curbside recycling cart.
To determine if something can be recycled through grocery store recycling programs, see this list of acceptable plastics for grocery store programs, or look for the How2Recycle label and follow those instructions.
Plastic envelope mailers: Recycle at grocery stores.
Most plastic envelope mailers (with or without bubble-wrap inners) can be recycled through grocery store plastic bag recycling programs, but please do not put them in your curbside recycling cart.
If you look at the packaging you will notice a How2Recycle label that mirrors what I’ve written above, and adds that the label will need to be removed before recycling. Because the label cannot be easily removed, simply cut out that piece with the label and dispose of it in the trash.
Paper envelope mailers: Some are recyclable and some are not.
Because there are many different kinds of mailer envelopes, I recommend that you look for the sure-fire clue to recycling right. The How2Recycle label is a verified certification of recyclability.
Please follow these instructions implicitly. If there is not a How2Recycle label then it is probably not recyclable. The non-recyclable envelopes are generally hybrids of material like the manila-colored paper on the outside and the plastic bubble wrap inside. Those mixed-material items are NOT recyclable. Please throw them in the trash.
Paper packing: Flatten and recycle in your curbside cart.
Paper is recyclable of course, and we want it in the recycling bins! Please flatten and fold all packing paper before putting them in your recycling cart. This will offer you more space in your cart, and also allows for correct separation of this material at the sorting facility; to the sorting machines, thin and flat equals paper.
Plastic air pillows: Recycle at grocery stores.
Plastic air pillows are recyclable through grocery store plastic bag recycling programs, but please do not put them in your curbside recycling cart. If you look at the packaging you will notice a How2Recycle label that should let you know if they are the right kind of plastic for the drop-off program.
Slice through the pillows with scissors or poke them with a pen to deflate and flatten them before taking them to the drop off location.
Bubble wrap: Recycle at grocery stores.
Bubble-wrap is also recyclable through grocery store plastic bag recycling programs.
Styrofoam blocks: Recycle at Dart Container drop-off.
Block Styrofoam is recyclable at the Dart Container Corporation in North Aurora. They will also take cleaned and dried food service foam products.
Styrofoam peanuts: Reuse or trash.
Dart does not take these in their program. Save them for reuse yourself or you can try calling a UPS or FedEx to see if they would reuse them. Otherwise, contain them securely in a tied bag and place in the trash cart.
Please Recycle Right!
Recycling right is even more important now than ever before.
Remember to closely follow the guidelines for curbside recycling, and only recycle the materials listed in the YES portion of this Recycling Guidelines Poster.
COVID-19 Recycling Information
If anyone in your household has COVID-19, please make sure that all materials they have had contact with are securely contained in trash bags tied closed and thrown in the trash. Wash all recyclables thoroughly, and wait two weeks before recycling them loose (not bagged) in the recycling cart.
Please see here for Kane County’s Program Status in relation to COVID-19.
There are so many different kinds of packaging that I could only cover the main ones here. Always look for the How2Recycle label for instructions. If you are unsure, feel free to contact me at email@example.com with your questions.
- COVID-19 RECYCLING: Do NOT Recycle PPE, Disposable Masks; DO Make Cloth Masks!
- COVID-19 RECYCLING, WASTE PICKUP: Curbside Continues; Bulk Item Collection Suspended; Other Actions You Can Take at Home