Interesting article about single-stream recycling

Think you're nailing the recycling game in your hometown? So did I until reading a WaPo article about how it needs to be done. I learned some new tricks, and you might too!

Who says I'm recycling wrong? Cite your sources! Oh, you did.
Who says I'm recycling wrong? Cite your sources!

I've been a recycler ever since I discovered places paid good money for aluminum beer cans. From those humble beginnings, I rapidly became an avid recycler, going to great pains to recycle every little scrap I could. You can read more about how I view recycling in an earlier Simple Fixes post.

So, the other day, I saw an article in my Recommended Reads daily email telling me I can't be a man because I don't smoke the same cigarettes as him. Oops, wait, just channeled some Rolling Stones there. Apologies. Anyway, the title said, "You're Probably Recycling Wrong." Balderdash and poppycock thought I to meself. Rats, now I am channeling Victorian writers. But, the gauntlet had been laid down, and I was interested to see if I was, indeed, recycling wrong.

What is single-stream recycling?

For years, cities and towns had us sort our recyclables into separate curbside bins or deposit them in segregated containers at public recycling areas. We called them the "recycling gumdrops" because they looked like giant gumdrops.
Recycling gumdrops that have seen better times...

This recycling approach required the recycling crews to drive around with individual bins for each type of recycling. It was overly complicated, and people weren't very good about sorting. To combat the issues, waste stream companies developed the single-stream process when all acceptable recyclable materials are collected in the same bin and sorted at the processing site.

So, how does a person recycle wrong? Well, the Washington Post article featured by Recommended Reads showed me exactly how the recycling habits and techniques I developed in the second half of the last century don't cut it today. Rather than be a spoiler, I'll create a bit of a trailer about some of the topics:

- Should you thoroughly rinse recyclables, other than paper, of course?

- Should you recycle plastic tops separately from glass bottles? Check your next glass soda bottle for a hint.

- Should you flatten aluminum cans before putting them out for recycling?

- If it has that recycling triangle, it's okay to toss it in the bin?

How did I do?

Actually, I did pretty well, but I picked up some great tips for recycling better and supporting the single-stream process more efficiently. Plus, being perpetually curious, I really enjoyed reading about how that mixture of materials I put out for collection gets appropriately sorted. Shucks, if you're going to go to the trouble to recycle, might just as well do it right!