Here in Onondaga County, we are very fortunate to have curbside recycling available to us as a free service. We’ve been dutifully tossing our cans, jars, and newspapers into blue bins for years and polishing our own haloes for our contributions to keeping the Earth green. I’ve got some news for you, though, and it may come as a big surprise – if you’ve been checking the code on the bottom of your plastic containers to determine if they are recyclable – you’re doing it wrong. We no longer need to memorize the various codes – plastic bottles, jugs, the containers your cottage cheese comes in – all can be recycled. If you’ve been tossing your pizzeria pizza box in the trash but your late night Digiorno frozen pizza box in the blue bin – you’re doing it wrong. I know! That was a shocker for me, too, but your pizzeria box is recyclable and the waxed paper boxes frozen foods come in go in the trash.

Recycling protocols have changed, and your good intentions might be making things a whole lot harder for the folks who work for OCRRA and have the unenviable but oh so important job of separating recyclables. You probably figured out that the Styrofoam egg cartons are trash, but did you know that the cardboard ones are too? Not recyclable. Those plastic clamshell containers that your strawberries come in are not recyclable, and when you put them in your blue bin and they end up on the sorting belt, they often jam up the works and the whole system has to be shut down while the machine is fixed. The presence of your trash in the recycling stream can contaminate the whole lot, rendering it all trash. You don’t have to sort your plastic laundry jugs from your child’s drawings brought home from school (oh come on, it’s ok to admit that you sneak some of them into the recycling bin when your kids aren’t looking!). Put all your recyclables in the blue bin together. If you aren’t sure if something is recyclable, just trash it. These handy infographics from OCRRA are an easy way to remember what goes in your blue bin and what goes in the trash:

These handy infographics from OCRRA are an easy way to remember what goes in your blue bin and what goes in the trash:


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Jennifer B. Granzow

Ms. Granzow holds a JD from the Syracuse University College of Law. Her practice is concentrated in the areas of business and corporate law, real estate, economic development, and government relations, with an emphasis on grants and public funding.

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