I see people recycling plastic bottles with caps on, but I have always been told to remove the caps before putting the bottles in recycling. Is it really important to remove caps from plastic bottles? ~Just Wondering

Dear Just Wondering,

It is critical to remove the caps of plastic bottles before recycling, as bottles and caps are made from different kinds of plastic. When two kinds of plastic are mixed, one kind contaminates the other, reducing the value of the recycled material. Additionally, it takes extra time for workers to separate caps from bottles before processing. If caps are left on the bottles, they could jam the processing equipment and also, the bottles may not compact properly. More significantly, a capped bottle might explode and become a safety hazard for workers. As you can see, there are several good reasons for removing caps from plastic bottles before putting them into the recycling bin or bag.

I brought my cardboard to recycling last week and was shocked to see what someone had put in the bin – used pizza boxes. Greasy cardboard cannot be recycled. It is wonderful that people want to recycle, but they need to know what can be recycled. Greasy cardboard should be put in the trash. ~Not So Happy Recycler

Dear Not So Happy Recycler,

You are absolutely correct. Greasy cardboard, of any kind, must not be recycled. It only takes one greasy item to contaminate an entire batch. Cleanliness is not only important when recycling cardboard, but it is critical for everything that goes to recycling so that contamination doesn’t happen. When recycling cardboard boxes don’t forget to remove any packing materials, such as plastic, foam or Styrofoam peanuts. You do not need to flatten the boxes before recycling. Recycling cardboard important because it saves energy and it takes up so much space in the landfill. (Cardboard is the single largest component of municipal solid waste around the world.) To make new boxes out of recycled cardboard requires only 75% of the energy used to make new cardboard. Definitely better for our environment.