America Recycles Day is held annually on November 15 as an initiative of Keep America Beautiful and as part of the wider effort to get more Americans actively recycling. Since sustainability is so important to our institution, and plays such a big part of so many of our exhibits (including Peanuts...Naturally!)we wanted to help get citizens educated about recycling. We used America Recycles Day as an opportunity to field some of your recyling questions, and our Sustainability and Chicago Conservation Corps Manager Kristen Pratt found the answers!
Do we need to wash clean every container that goes into the recycling bin? Do they not get recycled if they still have stuff in them?
No. A small amount of food/beverage residual in the container is acceptable. Containers still partially full of food or liquid should be emptied before being placed in the blue cart. A benefit to rinsing containers is for sanitary purposes while storing the empty containers in the home, and the ultimate goal is to prevent the contamination of other recyclables (especially paper, which can't be washed). So...clean out what you can, but it doesn't have to be spotless!
What should we do with plastic caps?
Plastic bottle caps are generally made from different plastics than the bottle. Since different plastics are recycled in different ways, the caps should be separated from the bottles. That said: because people often DON'T remove the bottle caps, many recycling facilities have taken to cutting off the tops of bottles to separate the caps. Sometimes these caps are sold as a commodity, sometimes they aren't. For Blue Cart Recycling in Chicago, the caps ARE accepted, so throw 'em in!
Where can I recycle light bulbs?
Unbroken CFLs can go to the Household Chemical and Computer Recycling Facility or to most box stores where they are sold (Home Depot, Lowe's). Broken CFLs and incandescents go in the trash.
Where can I recycle old cleaning supplies?
Cleaning supplies go to HCCRF, as well.
Where can I recycle old pills?
Pills go to ANY police station.
Does the demand for recycled plastic drop after the price of oil decreases?
Yes, they're connected. Manufacturers often ask: which is cheaper? To make new plastic (out of oil) or to pay for post-consumer plastics? When oil is cheap, it unfortunately drives down the demand for the recycled plastics.
Want to learn more about Chicago Conservation Corps? Click here, or sign up for the C3 Volunteer Opportunities newsletter here. Have more pressing recycling questions? Submit them via this form and we will help find the answers!