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Tuesday, 28 July 2015 02:23

What to recycle and what to trash

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Sometimes there is confusion about what exactly can and should go in those blue recycling containers that are collected for recycling here in Los Angeles county. Some recyclable items end up in the wrong bin, and more importantly, some strictly waste items can contaminate those that are recyclable or can be otherwise hazardous to the recycling process, and should be strictly avoided in the blue bins.

Here’s a quick guide to help you choose a bin on trash day.

Recycle it if:
it is clean and dry, including: computer paper, wrapping paper, junk mail, file folders, sticky notes, envelopes (even the ones with plastic windows are okay)

Trash it if:
it is contaminated with any oil (including food waste)

Recycle it if:
it is clean and dry, including: cereal boxes, shipping boxes (be sure to break these down), paper towl and toilet rolls, shoe boxes

Trash it if:
it is contaminated with any oil or food waste - like a pizza box

Recycle it if:
it is clean and dry, including: juice and milk cartons, broth and soup cartons, boxed wine, cream and coffee creamer cartons, and egg substitute cartons

Trash it if:
all food/liquid cartons should be okay to recycle as long as they are cleaned throroughly first.

Recycle it if:
it is aluminum, tin, metal, and bi-metal, such as soda and juice cans, soup and vegetables cans, pet food cans, pie tins, clean aluminum foil or tin foil, empty paint and aerosol cans (you need to remove the plastic caps), and wire hangers. All metals items should be rinsed if possible.

Trash it if:
it is part of an appliance or battery (check this list for how to dispose) or a partially filled aerosol container. Kitchen utensils and lawn furniture also should not be recycled.

Recycle it if:
it is a clean food or liquid container including soda bottles, wine and beer bottles, sauce and pickle jars. Broken bottles are okay if not listed in the items below.

Trash it if:
it is broken window or mirror glass, broken auto glass, broken light bulbs or fluorescent lights, or broken ceramics

Recycle it if:
is a clean plastic numbered 1-7 on the bottom of the container, including soda and juice bottles, detergent and bleach bottles, shampoo and lotion bottles, mouthwash bottles, dishwashing liquid bottles, milk jugs, margarine and yogurt tubs, plastic planters, food and blister packaging, rigid clamshell packaging.

These items are not marked with a number, but are also recyclable:

Plastic coat hangers, non-electric plastic toys, plastic swimming pools, & plastic laundry baskets

Plastic Bags such as grocery bags and dry cleaner bags, and all clean film plastic bags are also good to be in the blue bin.

All Clean Polystyrene (STYROFOAM™) including cups, take out containers, egg shell cartons, block
packaging, and clamshell packaging.

Trash it if:
it is a container for cleaning fluid, plastic hygienic item, electric or battery operated toy, mini blinds, kitchen utensil, lawn furniture, garden hose, rubber tire, construction materials, including asphalt or concrete, wood and wood products. Check below, as many of these items fall under the Harzardous Materials category.

should never be recycled. This includes many household items, such as used motor oil and filters, paint and solvents, electronic waste such as computers, cell phones and televisions, household cleaning products and pool cleaners, car and household batteries, fluorescent tubes and bulbs, home generated Sharps such as needles and lancets, unused medicine (except controlled substances). All of the above items can be dropped off at a S.A.F.E. Center (check here for locations).

For a full recyclable items breakdown, visit the Los Angeles City Sanitation website here.

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Brianne Richard

Bio Brianne lives and works North Hollywood and has been a lover of the Noho Arts District since she moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast in 2010. She is passionate about finding new ways to reduce, reuse, recycle, and repurpose! In her spare time, she edits her documentary web series Glad Rags, which is about vintage and sustainable fashion, runs an Etsy shop selling vintage and repurposed treasures, and co-produces a podcast! She's always making an effort to reduce her impact on our precious resources and share her passion for the repurposeful lifestyle!

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Bk Sunday, 09 December 2018 17:30 posted by Bk

    So we moved to noho area from Oregon, where we recycle just about everything and it’s the norm way of life. Not sure what to do with all the Polystyrene (STYROFOAM™) . Can I drop this into the blue bin? How to dispose of this properly so is processed properly? I’ve collected a fair amount of this problematic material setting up our new living quarters, as appliances, etc. use tons of this stuff for packing. Thanks...


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