Recycling can be super confusing – between figuring out what items should go in the trash or the recycling, what actually happens to those items after they’re picked up, and deciding whether or not to rinse that yogurt cup out, it can all be mind-numbing. We’re here to give you some easy tips for learning what to throw away where.
(Keep in mind that these are relevant as of the date of posting, applicable to the Jax Beach area, and guideline may vary from location to location.)
What’s Up with All Those Numbers?
Many plastic items have a small number in a triangle somewhere on the packaging (usually on the bottom). This number indicates the type of plastic it is, and not how recyclable it actually is. Contact your local recycling or waste hauler to find out what numbers they accept (at the time of writing, the Jacksonville area recycling facilities are accepting #1, #2, #3, #5, and #7 plastics).
There’s a catch though – there’s a LOT of different types of plastics within each number category. While a #1 plastic bottle is widely accepted, #1 plastic strawberry containers often end up in landfills since they’re chemical composition makes them much harder to turn into a new item. Make sure to ask your local facility what types of items they can actually handle. (Scroll down to see a list of do’s and don’ts for the Jacksonville area!)
To Trash Or Not To Trash?
Make sure all items are cleaned and dried before putting them in your curbside recycling bin. Otherwise, they could contaminate an entire batch of recycling and cause it to go to the landfill. This is due to the greasy, oily, moldy, or otherwise gross coatings that occur due to food residue that make it very difficult to turn the item into a new, marketable material.
If the item can’t be cleaned, like a greasy pizza box, or you’re not sure if it can be recycled, it’s better to throw it in the trash (when in doubt, throw it out!) Although this can seem sad or wasteful, it’s important to keep our recycling streams as clean as possible to give those items the best chance at a new life!
Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, Recycle
We can often get so caught up in the awesome practice that is recycling that we forget that it’s not the best solution for reducing plastic waste or creating a more sustainable society.
The first step to reducing waste is to avoid creating it in the first place. Refuse items when possible – especially paper handouts, unwanted magnets or stickers, or even “sustainable” items and freebies. If you don’t need it, say no – taking that free water bottle communicates to the organizer that people want single-use plastics, and they’ll continue to provide them.
Consciously think out what you need, and avoid buying more food or other items than you really need.
Try repurposing or donating an item that you no longer need – there’s tons of great “upcycling” resources on the web!
Try starting some compost! If you have a yard or garden area, put your fruit and vegetable scraps in a compost pile or container to create some new soil!
Do’s of Recycling in Jacksonville
- Office + School
- Mail + Newspapers
- Magazines + Catalogs
- Paperback books
- Paper bags
- Paper boxes (cereal , crackers, and cookie boxes)
- Cardboard (don’t be lazy, flatten it)
- Plastics labeled 1-3,5,7
- #1 PETE: bottles and food packaging
- #2 HDPE: Milk jugs, detergents, cosmetics, and cleaners
- #3 PVC: pipes, some shampoo bottles and cleaners
- #5 PP: syrup, condiment, and medicine bottles
- #7: Miscellaneous category
- Steel containers
- Aluminum cans and containers
Glass + Cartons
- Green glass
- Brown glass
- Clear glass
Don’ts of Recycling in Jacksonville
- Straws, bottle caps, and lids. They will clog recycling machines.
- #4 plastics, thin plastic bags. Grocery stores like Publix usually have a drop off for grocery bags.
- #6 plastics, Styrofoam (avoid at all cost!)
- Aerosol cans
- Food containers with waste or grease residue
- Food and Yard waste…. perfect for composting though.
- Don’t bag your recyclable in plastic
Check out our Terracycle program to learn what to do with hard-to-recycle items!