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  • Eliot

What’s recyclable, what becomes trash — and why

Let’s be painfully honest with each other for a second. Tell me the truth: are you recycling correctly? Plastic packaging is everywhere, from food to makeup to technology .... and exactly how to recycle can feel overwhelming to understand. And it’s no wonder — there are thousands of different curbside recycling programs across the country, each with their own rules, equipment, and end markets for their plastic. Feels like an endless chore to think about, I know. Take a breath, it’s really not that bad if you just keep in mind a few consistencies when disposing of your everyday items:

♻️ Plastics smaller than three inches? Keep them out of the curbside bin — they fall between the cracks of recycling machinery.

♻️ Plastic wrap? Gets caught up in the gears and can bring the recycling operation to a standstill.

♻️ Clamshell Food Containers? The molding process of creating them changes the structure of the plastic enough that they’re more difficult to recycle, even though they’re made from the same plastic as water bottles.

♻️ And that 1-7 numbering system? It’s meant for recyclers, not consumers, to ID the kind of resin a plastic is made of, not whether an item is recyclable.

Less scary when broken down a bit, right?

You can LEARN more about key recycling facts through NPR's fantastic visually interactive app at:

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