Recycling and Composting
Most recycling and composting services are provided by one's municipality. You may be able to contract service even if not.
- The selection of materials that can be recycled varies widely between different areas. Read your local recycler's guide and check in every few months to see if new material has been added.
- When in doubt, throw it out! People tend to be "aspirational recyclers," filling their bins with materials they want to be recycled (such as styrofoam packing peanuts) rather than what may be approved for recycling. But a too-high a percentage of non-recyclable material will contaminate an entire batch and it will have to be thrown out.
- Beware food-soiled paper such as greasy pizza boxes. These usually cannot be recycled and must be composted or thrown out. Generally, plastic bags and wraps, electronics, and textiles cannot go in a curbside recycling bin.
- Typically broken glass goes into the trash rather than recycling bin.
General Composting Tips
- Typically, food scraps, soiled paper, & yard trimmings go in the compost cart – this includes anything from coffee grounds and napkins, to spoiled foods and peels.
- Plastic is "down-cycled" meaning it is only recycled once before the end of its life. source
- Glass jars can be recycled indefinitely and will save 74 percent of the energy it would take to make new glass from raw materials. source
- However, Glass is often recycled into sand for construction projects rather than into new bottles. source
- It takes about twice the energy to make an aluminum can as it does an equivalent glass bottle. source
- The cost and energy needed to recycle metal are lower than in making virgin metal. Metal also has the added bonus of being able to be recycled continually if the material is not contaminated. source
- It takes 95 percent less energy to produce an aluminum can from recycled aluminum as it does new aluminum.
- Aluminum comes from bauxite that is mined in countries including China, Jamaica, Australia, and Guinea. It's an energy intense and polluting process (as is most mining). On the upside, aluminum can be recycled endlessly unlike most other recyclables that can only be used a few times before it degrades past usability.
- Thus, it seems that if you're buying beverages in bottles/cans and you have recycling in your community, cans are most likely to be recycled.
- And if you're choosing cans vs bottles for canned/bottled cocktails, if you can reuse the containers (people don't take them to-go) that glass is the best choice because its ease of reuse. If selling to-go bottles/cans, then cans are probably better as they are most likely to be recycled even though they cost more energy to make.
Luuk Gerritsen of Kome on the island of Curacao purchases knowing how and what can be recycled locally. He says, "We use cans wherever possible (switched to Q Mixers partly for that reason) so we don’t have glass waste. We have a local company that recycles aluminum." [full post here]
- Fryer Oil/Grease. You can often recycle used cooking oil by donating or selling it to a service. Even small amounts of cooking oil can sometimes be turned in for recycling. More information here.