Keep it clean

A walk around the block on recycling day will show you that people are confused about what’s recyclable in Reno. Yogurt cups, cereal boxes, plastic wrap—none of which are accepted curbside—commonly fill the recycling crates. Some people, aware of their own confusion, put things in the recycling crate “just in case.”

What happens to those things? Are they simply sorted out, no harm done? Or do they somehow disrupt the stream and wreak incremental havoc?

“We do have sorters that pick through and pull out what we don’t recycle,” said local Waste Management spokesperson Justin Caparusso. “It is one of those things where we want people to err on the side of recycling, but we don’t want them to throw out things with food contaminants. … If it’s contaminated with food, it can contaminate the whole lot. Anything that has been contaminated—you have a spaghetti jar you don’t get clean well, and it gets tossed in your basket, then spaghetti sauce is all over your aluminum cans, and those can’t be recycled then.”

Bottom line: Not rinsing your recyclables—or what you think are recyclable—can cause more harm to the recycling stream than trying to recycle the wrong thing.

As for what is recyclable curbside: aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, magazines, newspapers, plastic bottles and steel cans. So, no plastics that aren’t in the shape of a bottle, no jar lids, no cardboard or cereal boxes, and no dirty stuff.