When your jack-o'-lantern has lost its luster, toss it in the food and yard waste cart. Not the recycling bin. (Waste Management)

The 5 things scare recyclers — keep them out of the blue bin

Check to see if any of these common items have made it into your recycling cart. They make your recycling team scream!

  • Friday, October 22, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

By Karissa Jones / Waste Management

The spooky season is filled with our favorite witches and ghouls. Scary can be fun, but not when it comes to recycling! These five common items make your recycling team scream. Keep them out of the blue cart as you prepare for trick-or-treating season.

Clothing: Halloween costumes are a blast. When you’re done, don’t reach for the recycling cart. Instead, organize an exchange with your school, friends or neighborhood. You can also donate costumes to your local thrift store. King County Threadcycle locations accept all types of clothing, even items that are damaged and can no longer be worn.

Food and liquids: When your jack-o’-lantern has lost its luster, toss it in the food and yard waste cart. Just make sure to remove the candles first! Carmel apples and candy corn are also fit for the food and yard waste.

Small plastics like candy wrappers are not recyclable and should go in the garbage.

Remember, food and liquids should never go in the recycling. Make sure to rinse food out of cans and jars before tossing them in the cart.

Plastic bags: These are the most frightening of all. Plastic bags are known as tanglers because they easily get tangled up in sorting equipment at the recycling center, damaging equipment and causing safety hazards for workers. Never put plastic bags in the recycling bin. Instead, take plastic bags and plastic film to a drop-off location near you for recycling. Many local retailers accept plastic bags. Visit plasticfilmrecycling.org to find one near you.

What makes these bags extra spooky? On Oct. 1, Washington’s single-use plastic bag ban went into effect. The bag ban prohibits the distribution of single-use plastic carry-out bags by restaurants, retailers, small vendors and grocery stores. Remember your reusable shopping bag!

Other tanglers: Garden hoses, rope, leashes, wire, holiday lights, string and chains should never go in the recycling bin. These items are also known as “tanglers.” If they are in good condition, donate them. Otherwise, they belong in the trash.

Icky stuff: Dirty diapers and pet waste can really make a horrifying mess when they end up where they shouldn’t — the recycle bin! These materials will spoil other the recyclables, turning the load to garbage. Trash these instead and keep recyclables clean and dry.

Medical waste like syringes and prescription medication can pose a safety hazard and should never go in curbside recycling or waste bins. Instead, bring them to a drop-off location. Needles are especially dangerous, so dispose of them in a safe container.

Each of these scary items are considered contamination when placed in the curbside recycling cart. If you’re recycling is contaminated, it may not be picked up and/or you may receive an educational cart tag notifying you to remove the unacceptable items.

Cart tags are a quick way for drivers to communicate with you and ensure we are all recycling right. If you have questions about what items are accepted for recycling visit wmnorthwest.com.

Ghosts and monsters aren’t nearly as scary as ruined recycling. Be sure to keep these tips in mind on your Halloween haunts!

Karissa Jones is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager. For more information about recycling and waste reduction in your community, visit wmnorthwest.com.

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