Recycling Contamination - Single Stream Recycling

Education

Get educated about what items are acceptable.

Education

Get educated about what items are acceptable and which items are not.
Learn More

Contamination

Problems that stem from contaminated recycling loads.

Contamination

Single stream recycling toters are currently contaminated with material that cannot be recycled.
Learn More

E-Waste

E-Waste is any electronic device that is unwanted.

E-Waste

Cell phones, computers, laptops, tablets, appliances, and more can all become e-waste.
Learn More

4R’s of recycling

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover

4R’s of recycling

Help Whitetail be Pennsylvania’s leading environmentally correct waste hauler by partnering with us and practicing the 4R’s in your home today!
Learn More
As a whole, America needs to reevaluate its recycling procedures. Single stream recycling toters are currently contaminated with material that cannot be recycled. Contamination is simply any material that is not accepted in curbside recycling collection. We as Americans now “over-recycle” and toss non-recyclable items into our recycle bins. This “over-recycling” may seem harmless, but the practice jeopardizes the success of all our recycling efforts.

Over-recycling adds garbage, food waste, and hazardous materials into the recycling stream. As trucks deliver their mixed recyclable loads to sorting facilities, these contaminated items, destroy “good” materials and grind the progress of sorting facilities to a halt.

Examples of problems that stem from contaminated recycling loads:
  • If there are too many contaminants, loads of recycling become unacceptable.
  • Recycling machinery and sorting lines must slow down to sort through additional waste material. This slower processing increases operating costs and puts our national recycling efforts in jeopardy.
  • Recycling machinery is not made to handle all types of materials. Contaminants can ruin or damage equipment.
  • Hazardous waste can cause fires and pose safety hazards for workers.

China, Recycling & What that means for you?

Traditionally, recycling facilities across the United States have shipped much of their raw recyclable materials to China for processing. Plastics, paper and cardboard were gladly accepted by Chinese industries hungry to form new products from these raw materials. Recently, China is making efforts to reduce the amount, and increase the quality of raw recyclable materials entering the country. What does this mean for recycling materials Worldwide? Well, China is just not taking it.

China’s new, strict requirements mean that more loads will be considered contaminated if they contain any non-recyclable materials. Not only has China banned 24 different materials, but they also will not accept other items unless they are less than 0.5% impure. A small amount of garbage has the potential to ruin an entire batch of recycling. The result for American recyclers is tons of material that does not meet the new Chinese standards, facilities that are not designed to meet those standards, and an American public that continues to provide a contaminated recycling stream.

What can we do?

Recycling only works when done properly. A key solution to over-recycling is recycling education. Just because an item has a recycling symbol on it does not mean that it belongs in your recycling bin Know which materials are recyclable before tossing them into the bin.  If you’re in doubt, throw it out!

For additional information on household hazardous waste and electronics recycling please consult with your local county page by clicking the appropriate destination below.