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Solid Waste & Recycling Services

Surprising Items Not Fashionable for Your Recycle Bin

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Posted on Tuesday, August 9, 2016
By: J.P. Mascaro & Sons
Categories: Main Category  |  Recycling

These outfits are a stylish “Glamour Do” for your wardrobe but a big “Glamour Don’t” when it comes to your recycling bin!  The average Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) receives enough articles of clothing to make your local Good Will green with envy!  It’s understandable, when your closet starts to fill, you want to get rid of the old to make room for the new.  And we’d much rather you remember the three R’s of a healthy environment-reduce, reuse and recycle- then to dispose of these items into a garbage can.  However, when it comes to last year’s trends, it is better for the environment to find ways to reuse those bell bottom jeans and mullet skirts rather than throw them into the recycling container.

Here’s what happens.  MRFs are high operating recycling facilities with intricate technology that allows for the sorting of single-stream recyclable materials.  This means recycling is easy for you!  You can throw it all into one bin and these facilities will do the separating for you.  Awesome!  But when clothing enters the recycling stream it prevents the machinery from functioning properly.  Each stream contains rollers that have rubber or metal Stars.  These Stars have precise spacing between them that is vital to the sorting process, as well as is their shape.  Clothing wraps around the Stars and messes with this intricate spacing and shape.  This prevents the necessary items from falling through and changes the Stars’ structure so it can no longer accurately preform its task of pushing the correct items up the stream.  An unnoticed piece of clothing could actually cause a fire! 

Here are some environmental and MRF friendly tips for reusing those items getting rejected from their comfy place on the closet shelf (or probably more accurate a heap in the middle of the bedroom floor!):

  • Give them away!  What is out of style for you is a gold mine for someone else.  Ask your friends, family and neighbors to grab what they want.  We all have that aunt, nephew or buddy that clearly doesn’t know what year it is by their fashion style.  Or that younger sibling that just wants what is yours!
  • On that same note, bring them to a Good Will.  It’s not only generous, it’s a tax write-off. 
  • Turn those rags to riches and sell them. Apps like Letgo and OfferUp make it easy to put your used items up for sale.
  • Stained or tattered t-shirts and shorts make great cleaning supplies.  Save money and use these to wash your car and wipe down your floors. 
  • And you can always pack them away in the attic for when they become fashionable again in ten years.

Plastic Bags

Although they aren’t as likely to catch fire, plastic bags hinder the recycling process in the same way as your old socks and t-shirts.  There is actually no need to even put your recyclables into a bag first.  Just throw them straight into the can!  Bring plastic bags back to your grocery store or take them to public drop-off centers, such as TotalRecycle in Birdsboro, Pa.  Or just reduce your use altogether and bring your own bags when out shopping. 


Sheets may keep you warm at night but, remember, recycling facilities like the chill.  They may as well be clothing when it comes to your local MRF.  Old sheets make great beach blankets and act as excellent “roofs” for your kids’ forts.  Or your own forts.  Admit it, we all need our alone time once in a while.  Also, a floor after a child eats typically resembles a landfill.  Sheets work wonders under high chairs as a much cheaper version of a splat mat.  

Propane Tanks and Chains

Additional no-no items that incorrectly end up at recycling facilities are propane tanks and chains.  Chains get so hot on a Star that you could fry an egg.  Not recommended for breakfast!  Propane tanks that get compacted in the bailer could cause an explosion.  Why not help the environment and collect some cash at the same time?  Return them to your place of purchase and you will get your money back.  Or take them to a scrap yard and they will pay you for it.   No matter what route you take, always make sure they are EMPTY first!

So stick with the trends.  We all know supporting the environment is the cool thing to do.  Following these simple steps will keep you fashionable for years to come.

Tagged:Green, Recycle, Recycling, Sustainability, Giving, Environment, Fashion, Glamour, Clothing, Plastic Bags, Propane Tanks, Chains, Reuse, Trends, MRF

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