Help your county! Recycling reduces waste disposal costs and increases revenue for the county. It is the environmentally sound way to manage trash.
Plastic is collected at county convenience centers and city drop-off sites for recycling. Plastics are consolidated, sorted and baled at the Putnam County Recycling Center.
Recycling is an important way to divert some of our waste from the landfill, but we must learn to recycle properly. Remove lids from jars and bottles and rinse them out. Rinse out food residue from soup, tuna and other cans. Rinse food waste out of jars. Remove metal lids. Recyclables that contain food waste attract vectors (rats, possums, etc.) and make the convenience centers and drop-off sites stink. Only put the items that are specifically labeled on the container into the container.
Some people think everything they put into the recycling bin is recycled. It is not. When materials that cannot be recycled are put into the recycling bin, they must be sorted out by hand. This is time consuming and often contaminates other recyclables. Contamination is defined as materials that cannot be recycled by the county recycling center that are placed into recycling collection bins. Contamination can consist of food waste that is stuck to recyclables, Styrofoam and anything else that is not specifically identified on the collection as recyclable.
A frequent form of contamination found in the glass collection containers is light bulbs. Sometimes even long, fluorescent bulbs are put into the “clear glass” recycle bin. These bulbs are fragile and can easily break as workers try to sort them out of the bin. They contain mercury and are considered hazardous waste. Fluorescent bulbs cannot be recycled at convenience centers or drop-off sites. They must be taken to the Putnam County Recycling Center or recycled through the county Household Hazardous Waste Event. Glass bottles and jars are the only glass that can be recycled in Putnam County and must be sorted by color.
Another item that is considered contamination is plastic bags. Many people pack recyclables into plastic bags and drop the whole bag into the recycling bin. Plastic bags should never go into the recycling bin. They can be used at your home to collect recyclables but should not go into the collection bins. Bags are considered “contamination” and must be sorted out. Shopping bags cannot be recycled at the county recycling center but can be recycled at the front of any of the stores that provide shopping bags to their customers, such as Walmart or Kroger.
It has gotten harder to get recyclable materials into new products due to the level of contamination in the materials that are being sold to manufacturers. In July 2017, China announced that it would no longer accept any recyclables from the United States due to contamination. Recyclers have been scrambling to find other countries interested in purchasing recyclables. Sadly, one in four items that are “recycled” are actually garbage and must be sorted out. That means that 25 percent, or one-fourth, of materials in each recycling bin is garbage and has to be sorted by hand out of the recyclables. It is much more expensive to put garbage in a recycling bin than it is to put it in the garbage can.