Why is sorting and cleaning our recycling so important?
Our communities in the Flathead and Montana face a unique challenge when it comes to recycling. Our small and sparse population does not produce enough recyclable material to attract a processing facility. All of our recycling is shipped out of state to be turned into new products. Additionally, Montana is the 4th largest state. This means that there is a whole lot of land to cover to get our recycling to one of those processing plants.
This combination of challenges means that recycling is a little more work for us. To help cover transportation costs, we are asked to sort our recycling when we drop it off (called “source-separated” recycling). This is important for many reasons:
Contamination hurts recycling –
When items are not properly sorted, or non-recyclable trash is put in a recycling bin, it can send the whole bin to the landfill. By sorting our recycling into the correct bins, we make sure our stuff actually gets recycled and not just trashed. When in doubt, leave it out!
Recycling right creates jobs –
Materials that are clean and sorted correctly have a much higher value than dirty, mixed materials. Recycling collection programs create more than 50 jobs in the Flathead alone. When the public fails to properly sort materials, we lower the value of our recyclables and put these companies at risk.
Dirty recycling gets trashed –
Dirty, rusty, smelly, or food-contaminated recyclables get sent to the landfill, and can contaminate other recyclables they touch. Make sure to rinse out all containers before putting them in the recycling bin. Do not recycle oily or food stained cardboard or paper, like pizza boxes or paper plates.
When we all properly sort our recycling, we do our part for supporting recycling in the Flathead.
Recycle It Right:
+ Remove caps and lids from all glass and plastic containers. This removes contamination from the non-recyclable materials that caps are made out of. It also makes baling plastics much safer for the workers, as pressure can build up and shoot the caps off at dangerous speeds when the plastics are compacted.
+ Do not throw plastic or paper bags in with other recyclables. Instead, pour out the recyclables and reuse the bag, or recycle it properly (plastic bags have drop-off bins inside the entrance of most grocery stores; paper bags can be recycled with cardboard).
+ Rinse all containers before putting them in your home recycling bins. This will keep your recycling from getting too dirty and hard to clean when it’s time to drop them off.
+ Have separate containers at home for paper, cardboard, plastic and metals, and glass, so you don’t have to sort your materials when you get to the drop-off sites.