Know Waste Wednesday

As seen on Nextdoor, Public Education Coordinator, Karen Maynard, asks a waste-related trivia question using the poll feature every Wednesday. Click on the previously asked questions below to reveal the answers.

Karen Maynard Nextdoor

Although it's misleading, Styrofoam products typically display a recycle symbol to show what type of plastic it is. However, this material is not accepted in Louisville's recycling program. The answer is FALSE. Try to reduce the use of Styrofoam instead! It should be noted that Foam Fabricators (950 Progress Blvd, New Albany, IN) does accept non-food contaminated Styrofoam for drop-off. Pieces must be free of tape, stickers, labels and may NOT have been used for food. A great option for those giant Styrofoam blocks used in packaging!.

The answer is Materials Recovery Facility, AKA – MRF (pronounced “merf”). Jefferson County’s household recyclables go to two MRFs – WestRock Recycling and Rumpke Waste & Recycling. If yours is picked up by Rumpke trucks, then it goes to the Rumpke MRF. All the other trucks, including Louisville Metro’s, take recycling to the WestRock MRF. At the recycling facility, the items are sorted, baled, and sent to manufacturers for further processing. (Our material stays in the US.) Of course, some items are contaminated or don’t belong - about 15% of the material received at the MRF cannot be recovered.

The correct answer is NO! We see a lot of recyclables tied up in plastic bags! Whether you are using a bin, cart, or one of our recycling dumpsters, please place items in the container loosely. Bagging recyclables not only slows down the sorting process, the plastic bags can get tangled up in the machines that help with the sorting. (The ONLY exception to this rule would apply to shredded paper; it may be recycled in a clear plastic bag.) If you use an open-top bin, place heavier items on top to prevent lighter items from blowing out.

The correct answer is… Toothpaste tube! All the other items ARE accepted in Louisville’s recycling programs. But we do ask that the plastic caps and/or tips are removed from the EMPTY aerosol cans before recycling. (Residents with Rumpke should discard those caps and lids in the trash. All other residents can recycle the caps, but please note that some very small items might not get recovered.) A toothpaste tube is typically a composite of polymer and aluminum, making it difficult to separate. Also, because toothpaste tubes are difficult to empty completely, the residual toothpaste can cause issues during the recycling process.

The correct answer is FALSE! The numbers are actually the “resin identification code”, or what type of plastic it is. The Materials Recovery Facility where the recycled items go has rules about which plastics are accepted. Some describe their accepted plastic by shape, and some use the numbers. If your recycling is collected by Rumpke, only plastic bottles and jugs are accepted. Other waste haulers, including Metro, accept numbers 1-7. Neither facility accept Styrofoam or plastic grocery bags, which both have a number on them. (Plastic grocery bags can be recycled at participating retail stores).

The correct answer is hard cover books! Try donating them or, if that’s not possible, you could remove the covers and recycle the paper separately. Cartons – crush to conserve space, keep the lid on. Pizza boxes – remove all leftover food. Grease is ok. If you think it’s too saturated with grease, cheese and/or sauce, just recycle the top half and trash the bottom half. Junk mail – yes, window envelopes are ok to recycle!

The correct answer is swimming pool chemicals! (Never put them with your recycling!) As for the other items, medical syringes should be collected in a strong, plastic container and placed in the garbage. (Never put them with your recycling!)Televisions should be donated or may be recycled at the Waste Reduction Center, 636 Meriwether Ave. Used fireworks should be disposed in the garbage. Soak any “duds” in water first.

The correct answer is Whipped Cream Can and Drumstick Box! The empty whipped cream can and the empty cardboard box are recyclable here in Louisville. Capri Sun pouches are not accepted. Those spiral cardboard containers are a mix of metal and cardboard, so they are also not accepted. (The plastic lids are accepted unless you are serviced by Rumpke.)

The answer is... FALSE! Old metal pots and pans can be recycled, but only at a scrap metal facility. They are not accepted in curbside bins or drop-off recycling dumpsters. Please donate any usable items, of course.

The answer is… FALSE! Alkaline batteries are environmentally safe for landfill disposal! Although they can be recycled, it is a very expensive process. Participating stores like Batteries Plus will accept them for a fee of $1/lb. They can be recycled for free at our Household Hazardous Waste drop-off site at 7501 Grade Lane where the Waste Management District picks up the cost. Is it worth it? Well, that would be a topic for the Waste Management District Board to discuss…

The answer is… TRUE! And to conserve space in your recycling bin, you can squeeze the air out and then replace the cap.

In the biz we call those pesky items “tanglers!” Anything long and stringy can get wrapped up in the processing equipment and can cause costly shutdowns. (Think about what happens when you accidentally vacuum over a shoestring…) Do the recycling facility a favor by keeping those types of items out of your curbside recycling bins and drop-off recycling dumpsters.

The answer is… FALSE! Compostable takeout containers aren’t as “eco-friendly” as they sound if you don’t have a way to compost them! If you don’t have a way to compost, into the garbage they must go. If you have a backyard compost pile, consider helping the process along by cutting the item into small pieces before composting. And remember, it’s best to REDUCE! Try to avoid single-use items!

TRUE! You don’t have to tear that clear plastic window out to recycle those boxes or even window envelopes. During the recycling process, the cardboard and paper get broken down into a pulp. Items that don’t belong, like plastic, are filtered out and discarded.

FALSE! They can certainly be reused, but if you are disposing they should not go in your household recycling bin. They can be recycled, however, at participating stores that accept plastic film.

The cardboard was fine, the lids SHOULD be on plastic containers, so the answer is... the aluminum cans are in a plastic bag! Remember, keep your items loose. BUT that brings up another point: that bin is very full! Those milk jugs could have been crushed (replace the lid) which would have saved some precious bin space. Residents may be able to put extra items in another container or purchase an additional bin or cart (check with your waste hauler to be sure).

NO! They can be a big problem at the recycling facility because the tape inside will unravel and get tangled in the processing equipment. They ARE accepted with Electronics Recycling at the Waste Reduction Center.

The answer is... drop off at garden centers! Did you know Lowe's and Home Depot accept them back for reuse or recycling? They are accepted in curbside recycling (unless you're serviced by Rumpke trucks), but here's the tricky part - eventually the mixed plastic containers get sorted by optical sensors. Since the conveyor belt is black, the optical sensors don't read the color black! So the black flower pots might not get recovered...

The simple answer is no... Even if all the wax is gone, many candle jars are made from a different type of glass (than food and beverage containers) that withstands the heat of a burning candle. Our local recycling facilities don't want this type of glass in curbside recycling because it would be mixed with all the other glass containers. But before trashing the jars, try to repurpose them or find someone who can!