It is learned from a very young age that recycling is important to be sustainable. But many fail to realize that some materials cannot be recycled if they contain food waste. That is why the following list of reasons why food waste should not be recycled has been compiled. They are as follows:
- Sanitary Concerns
- Paper Contamination
- Single Stream Recycling
Once the recycling bins leave a home or business, there is still a person dealing with those materials at a recycling facility. Food waste left on recyclable materials can create unsanitary working conditions for the plant workers. Although it can be burned off in the melting process of metals, glass, and plastic, mold and bacteria are still present for these employees before this process occurs. This is a common courtesy that should be afforded to the workers whose job it is to make the world a better and cleaner place.
The process by which paper is recycled is quite fascinating. The paper is broken down back into a pulp and mixed with other ingredients so that it can then be reused as other paper or paper products. The problem with food waste in recycling bins is that it contaminates this paper with things like grease and oil which are very difficult to remove in the paper recycling process. This issue is exclusive to paper however because other recyclable materials such as metals, glass, and plastics can be melted down at which point these oils and greases can be removed.
Single Stream Recycling
Similarly to the above issue, some recycling programs use what is known as single stream recycling. In these communities, ensuring food waste is kept out of the recycling bin is even more imperative. Again, oils and grease can contaminate paper to a point where it can no longer be recycled. It should be noted, however, that for the sanitary reasons listed above, communities that separate recycling should still steer clear of food waste in recycling bins.
Recycling is one of the major ways individuals can do their part to improve the world. Many people helping at a local level makes a huge impact over time. To best maximize the amount of recyclable material that can be turned back into a usable product, food waste should always be completely cleared away before being placed in recycling bins.