Friday, February 06, 2009

Everything You Need to Know About Rinsing Recyclables

I posted this on Facebook, but neglected to post it here. Slate's Nina Shen Rastogi answers the following question:

I've always been dedicated to washing the peanut butter, Pepsi, and mayo out of my food containers before tossing them in the recycling bin. My sister, though, recently pointed out that I'm probably wasting gallons upon gallons of precious H20! Is it worth it to soap up my tin cans and soda bottles?

Good question. I've occasionally thrown away plastic peanut-butter jars and sour-cream tubs because I didn't have the energy to scrape and rinse off the peanut butter or sour cream clinging to the sides of the container. A few years ago I wrote the following on the subject:

I feel a sense of relief when I empty the cottage cheese or sour cream and find that the tub is a type-5 plastic . . . . The number 5 on the bottom of the sour cream tells me that I will not have to thoroughly rinse the tub and add it to the overflowing bin of plastic containers in my garage.

(Nashville's recycling program has since started accepting type-5 plastics.)

Anyway, it turns out that I need not worry about lingering peanut butter because "Recycling facilities are well equipped to handle dirty cans and bottles." Good to know. Still, the article explains, there is value in rinsing out recyclable containers. So you should probably go ahead and read the entire thing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wash/rinse my recyclable containers when I wash my dishes at the end of doing my dishes. I and most people don't throw out their dishes because they are dirty, so why would they throw out their recyclables because they are dirty. Washing them keeps bugs out of our houses, as well, let's think about being considerate to the people who have to work with this material. If we think it's important to recycle, then it's should also be important to think about other fellow human beings. Are we not all in this together!

9:10 PM  

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