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What Does ‘Curbside Recyclable’ Mean and What Does It Include?

What Does ‘Curbside Recyclable’ Mean and What Does It Include?

Man Filling Recycling Bin in front of his house

For decades we’ve been using recycle bins at our homes and businesses for waste management collection. It’s become commonplace to sort our trash accordingly and place in the appropriate bin. But not everything we need to dispose fits in trash collector bins. At home, we might need to get rid of large boxes, or used furniture or even backyard debris. In distribution centers, we deal with even more materials that need to be responsibly handled when it comes to disposal.

Often times, people will simply leave their discarded items next to the bins for the garbage trucks to pick up. Most people don’t think twice about whether these items can be properly recycled. Same goes for the garbage placed inside the recycle bins.

Curbside Recycling refers to the practice of discarding items that are picked up by a waste collection service and then sorted at a facility. Some of these items are easily recyclable while others are not. Here’s how curbside recycling works as well as what types of products it includes.

The Recycling Process

Each year, more than 20 million tons of curbside recyclable items are discarded in the U.S. Once those items are collected, they go to a Materials Recovery Facility to be sorted and sent to more facilities, until they finally reach either a landfill or a factory.

What is Not Curbside Recyclable?

It is important to distinguish between what is considered curbside recyclable and what is not. Here is a look at items you never want to leave curbside.

  • Tanglers – This is an occurrence in the garbage industry that describes any kind of item that can tangle other items. These include hoses, string lights, headphones, wires and more. The problem with tanglers is that they end up snagging equipment and slow down the sorting process. A better place to discard them are special recycle programs that accept these kinds of items.
  • Food – This can be a gray area for some. Many people know that food is compostable and figure that means it’s also recyclable. This is definitely not the case. If you can compost your food, that is the best solution. But when you can’t, don’t place it in the recycle bin.
  • Bulk Plastic Items – When you have large plastic items such as outdoor kid’s toys, or laundry baskets, it may seem like an easy choice to sit them next to your trash bins to be collected. However, not every city allows for this. Check with your local municipality to see what rules are for bulk plastic items.

And of course, there are also the usual suspects: diapers, plastic bags and batteries are never curbside recyclable.

What is Curbside Recyclable?

Now that we’ve taken a look at what is not curbside recyclable, let’s see what you can recycle.

  • Paper and cardboard – This includes anything like cereal boxes, newspaper, mail and paper-made boxes.
  • Glass – You can recycle glass of any kind: mason jars, wine or beer bottles, or any type of glass you may have.
  • Metals – Anything like steel, tin or aluminum cans are always recyclable.
  • Rigid plastic bottles – This can be a little confusing to some because regular plastic bottles are never considered to be recyclable. But anything like plastic milk cartons or other plastics that are rigid, are able to be tossed into your curbside recycle bin.

There are other types of products that while they can be recycled, they are not done through your traditional curbside pickup. This includes items like batteries and electronics. Look for special recycle centers for those kinds of items.

Many of the products in the Hughes packaging line are considered to be curbside recyclable and reusable packaging products. We also consider the whole process, from manufacturing to end-user, to help our customers make green decisions about their product packaging.

Consider the Consumer

These days, everyone receives some sort of goods through the mail. This can be anything from groceries to beauty products to electronics and so on. Retailers need to consider the customer’s experience with their packaging materials. Prepare your customer with recycling instructions using recognizable symbols to make their life easy and show them what you care about.

Customers are taking special note of primary and secondary packaging as ecommerce continues to explode. Secondary packaging options are often mailers for small items, and cardboard or paperboard for larger items. Some of these items are suitable for curbside recycling but it is important to tell your customer.

The bottom line is that your customers are noticing packaging materials in ways they never have before, and many people actively seek to properly discard these materials. This collective impact is what we need to sustain our planet.

At Hughes Enterprises, we are always innovating our packaging. Our mission is to keep bringing new and exciting packaging solutions that speak to today’s market. We’ve been able to operate and grow our business since 1950 by listening to the demands of the marketplace. We know how to evolve with the times and look forward to doing more to help people recycle properly and help keep our planet strong and resourceful.

If you’re ready to improve your packaging, talk with a Hughes packaging expert about curbside recyclable products today.