Are you clear on what you should be recycling/composting?


Meet your newest Livermore Recycling Champion

I have decided to become a Livermore recycling champion. It seems logical that if I am willing to board airplanes to share ideas about sustainability with my fellow citizens, I can extend the same service to people in my own neighborhood.  Once I attended the orientation, I realized that determining the proper location for your trash to support recycling/composting efforts can be tricky.

Here are 12 things about recycling/composting which may not be obvious.

  1. I used to place my pizza boxes in the recycling bin because of the cardboard. However, this is the incorrect thing to do. The correct answer is that pizza boxes cannot be recycled because of the oil content, and therefore they belong in the green organic bin.
  2. Juice bottles were interesting—if the bottle could be stored on a shelf, it is made of a composite plastic and cannot be recycled. The plastic is recyclable if the bottle is designed to be refrigerated.
  3. Wood can go into the green bin if it’s untreated, but it will need to go in the trash If the wood has been treated. Furniture such as dining sets are typically treated and should go in the trash. When I got rid of my old dining room set and placed the broken pieces in the organic bin, I was wrong.
  4. My original thought was that since the cork from my wine bottle was made from bark, it should be organic and therefore compostable. Cork can be composted, but be warned—synthetic corks that are increasingly common in newer wines are not compostable. Takeaway: make sure corks are made of cork and not plastic made to look like cork.
  5. For a coffee cup from Peet’s or Starbucks, the lid belongs in the trash but the cup itself can go into the green bin.
  6. Clean aluminum can be recycled, but if it’s dirtied with food it will need to go in the trash.
  7. Wax is compostable, but a candle is not. Therefore, any waxy materials can be composted while candles need to go in the trash.
  8. Bubble wrap is not recyclable. Bubble wrap is usually made from polyethylene film, and like plastic grocery bags and other plastic films, it should not be added to your recycling bin. The primary reason is because the wrap will cause jams in recycling machinery.
  9. Food in plastic containers should be divided up, with the food going to compost and the plastic going to recycling.
  10. If you have been ignoring the fact that a large portion of plastic does not get recycled and you still decide to purchase cases of bottled water, the shrink wrap goes in the trash. The cardboard can be placed in the recycling bin.
  11. Horse and cow manure can go in the green bin since they do not involve meat. Kitty poop and dog crap, however, need to go to the trash since dogs and cats consume meat.
  12. Envelopes with papers can be recycled even with the small plastic on the envelope, since this can be removed during the recycling process. The plastic sheet can be removed if you want to be safe.

The common goal

Hopefully, you will not make the same mistakes I was making. Thanks to my Livermore Recycling team for pointing these out to me and helping me move toward my goal of reducing my contribution to our landfills.