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You're Probably Recycling Wrong

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - China used to take the world's used plastic and turn it into new goods. But the country has recently been turning away used plastic from the United States, in part, because it is now dealing with a lot more of its own used plastic, and because the items being sent are too dirty.

What can Americans do to help fix the problem? For one, recycle correctly. It turns out, a quarter of the stuff that is thrown into the recycle bin is not recyclable.

China now turns down anything that is not 95.5% pure, which is why companies like Recycle Across America want standardized labels on both home and public recycling bins that spell out exactly what can be recycled in each community.

Regional recycling center workers catch mistakes, targeting what they call "tanglers", those pieces of material that get caught up in the sorting equipment. Tanglers include plastic bags, coat hangers, and garden hoses.

Other recycling programs refusing items such as yogurt cups and shampoo bottles.

Recycle Across America says, "When in doubt, throw it out."

Here are some quick tips about the do's don'ts of recycling:

  • Do not put food, liquids, straws, plastic cups, and plastic dishware in the recycling bin.
  • Do not put your recyclables in plastic bags.
  • Do not put aluminum foil, plastic or metal utensils, plastic bags, styrofoam, or plastic wraps in the bin.
  • Do not put your greasy cardboard pizza box, it's been contaminated.
  • Do rinse food out of bottles, jars, and containers.
  • Do remove metal lids from glass jars.

For more recycling information, check out Recycle Across America's website.

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