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Recycling Contamination

Post Date:04/18/2017 2:30 PM

Curbside recycling benefits most residents in Salt Lake County. It feels good to keep perfectly usable stuff out of landfills and to give our recyclable paper, cardboard, and containers a chance to be made into new products. Yet even well intended recyclers have contributed to recycling contamination due to misunderstanding, inaccurate information, or what those in the industry refer to as “wish-cycling” by placing an item in the bin and hoping it will get sent to the proper place.

In Salt Lake County last year, about 19% of recycling was rejected and landfilled due to contamination. So what is contamination and why is it messing up our recycling? Anything that ends up in a recycling bin that does not belong is known as a contaminant. In a perfect situation, a contaminant can be removed in the sorting process, but more often than not the contamination spreads to surrounding material, sometimes even ruining the entire load.

 Recycle Right