Bottles, cans, paper only: Trash can’t be wished into recycling

Don’t know what’s recyclable? Take the guess work out of recycling with help from the Recycle Corps.

At its core, recycling is an act of optimism. An investment in the future. A chance to turn something old into something useful and new. That optimism is a powerful thing.

But believe it or not, over-enthusiastic recycling has a dark side. Every day, items are placed in the recycling bin that don’t belong there.

In the recycling biz, we have a name for that: “wishcycling.” In parts of the country, it’s having a very real, very threatening effect on our nation’s recycling. Beyond making sorting waste more difficult and expensive, wishcycling is actually putting our nation’s recycling stream in jeopardy. Entire loads of recyclables can be rendered useless by contamination from trash.

Fortunately, it turns out Snohomish County recyclers know how to recycle right. The Puget Sound has some of the cleanest recycling in the country, thanks in part, to the clean-up crew Waste Management has put on the case. This summer, our team of Waste Management Recycle Corps interns are back, and they’re on a mission to eliminate wishcycling and get more paper, bottles and cans into the recycling.

Our team of 12 Recycle Corps interns will be working with local businesses, property managers and residents in 25 cities spanning three counties this summer to kick wishcycling to the curb. The team has expertise in setting up recycling systems that take the guesswork and inconvenience out of recycling through improved signage and recycling bin accessibility.

Better yet, nine of our Recycle Corps interns are bilingual — speaking English, Spanish, Cantonese and Vietnamese — and they will receive training from the Waste Management experts who earned “2018 Recycler of the Year” honors for multicultural engagement from the Washington State Recycling Association. This training will provide tools to overcome language barriers and help our multicultural communities and business owners hone their recycling skills.

Even without a visit from the Waste Management Recycle Corps, there are three simple rules to for recycling at home, at work and everywhere in between.

• Recycle all empty bottles, cans and paper.

• Keep food and liquids out of recycling. These are the bad apples of recycling that spoil the barrel!

• Keep plastic bags out of recycling. Sure, they seem harmless, but they get into nooks and crannies in sorting equipment and bring recycling facilities grinding to a halt.

So, keep an eye out for the Waste Management Recycle Corps this summer to get answers to all your recycling questions. With their help, and Snohomish County’s commitment to recycling, we can make wishcycling a thing of the past.

Michelle Metzler is the recycling education and outreach manager for Waste Management. Have more recycling questions? When in doubt, find out at recycleoftenrecycleright.com.

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