From the continued melting of the ice in the North and South Poles to the increasing occurrences of natural calamities, the effects of the accelerating pace of climate change are worsening. Because of this, there has been growing emphasis on adopting more environmentally-friendly practices and help the planet heal.
While it would require more drastic changes to stop climate change in its tracks, there are still things we can do as individuals to help fight the good fight against the demise of our planet and its inhabitants.
Proper disposal and recycling are some of the ways we can do our part in reducing the negative effects of climate change. However, did you know that when it comes to items like pizza boxes – which are made from corrugated cardboard which is usually considered recyclable, they only end up in landfills?
Why “Food Waste” Items End Up In Landfills
Things like your takeout containers, coffee cups, and yogurt cups are often thought of as recyclable – and they can be. However, more often than not, they end up in landfills instead. Why is that?
The answer lies in the fact that they used to contain food. Food residue such as grease from pizza boxes and takeout food containers are considered contaminants and adding them to your recyclables will contaminate the rest of them, resulting in recycling companies rejecting the items and shipping them off to a landfill instead.
Why is it considered contamination? Well, for one, food spoils. This can create unsafe and unsanitary working conditions for the employees of recycling facilities. More than just being rotten, spoiled food can become hazardous waste which can be harmful to the workers.
Secondly, it will reduce the value of the recycled material since it’s been contaminated. When the item has been devalued, it can have negative impacts on the local recycling program due to the lower market value.
Lastly, it can compromise the integrity of the machines that are responsible for turning your trash into something usable again. The food residue can get in the gears and other components, destroying the machine which is incredibly costly to replace.
Because of this, recycling facilities will enforce strict measures and reject items that have been contaminated.
So, how do you prevent them from being thrown away in landfills?
The secret to turning these food waste items into recyclable items is by cleaning them before putting them in the recycling bin. This is easier for bottles and plastic cups but for paper items like pizza boxes, it’s slightly more difficult.
This is because it entails cutting away the greasy parts and putting only the untouched portions, usually the top half of the box, in the recycling bin.
So, by cleaning them before you recycle them, they have a higher chance of being recycled and reduce the risk of contaminating the other recyclables.
Climate change is a real event and it’s only going to get worse if we don’t step up and do our part as inhabitants of this planet. One of the best ways we can do so is by recycling. However, we need to make sure that our food containers are clean before we put them in the bin to avoid them ending in landfills.
Who knew that running your food containers under the sink for a few seconds can be what determines whether they are recycled or not?