Meet the Big Four of Recycling: Plastic, Metal, Paper, Glass

The first publicly funded, recycling collection program in the United States started in the 1960s. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) people back then generated 2.68 pounds of solid waste per day; as of 2018 we generate roughly 4.9 pounds of solid waste, with almost 24% being recycled and 9% composted.

Meet the Big Four of Recycling: Plastic, Metal, Paper, Glass

The first publicly funded, recycling collection program in the United States started in the 1960s. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) people back then generated 2.68 pounds of solid waste per day; as of 2018 we generate roughly 4.9 pounds of solid waste, with almost 24% being recycled and 9% composted. 

Sometimes it is difficult to tell what is truly recyclable and what is not. We at Athens Services want to go back to the basics and review how best to recycle. 

First tip, remember that recyclables should be empty of food and liquids before placing them in your container.

What Is Accepted for Recycling by Athens? 

Plastics, Metals, Paper, and Glass 

Let’s first go over plastics. 

Items made from plastic types #1, #2, and #5 are the most recyclable. These can include beverage bottles, detergent jugs, to-go clamshells, yogurt cups, food containers, and more. To identify your products’ plastic type, look for the resin number inside the chasing arrows, usually located on the bottom of the item. 

Next we have metals including aluminum, tin, and steel. All types of pots and pans (that are in no shape to donate) are accepted for recycling including Teflon and those with plastic or wooden handles. Keep your metals loose and do not stuff or crimp different metal types together in a singular container. In a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) if metals are combined together, they are harder to separate and recycle. 

Paper & cardboard is accepted for recycling, as long as it’s clean, including junk mail, printer paper, and newspapers. We even accept low-grade recycle paper like cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, or egg cartons. The paper with any type of wax or plastic coating is not recyclable. Regular and glossy wrapping paper is recyclable unless it has non-paper additives like metallic flakes, colored shapes, glitter and plastics. To prep cardboard for recycling, remove all packaging material and tape.  

Glass food and beverage bottles and jars are recyclable. Athens does not accept. 

How to Fine Tune your Recyclables to ensure it will be recycled. 

  • Make sure to empty all recyclables of any food and liquids. 
  • Mixed materials products are items made from multiple types of material, such as a yogurt cup. The plastic cup is very valuable, but the “foil” lid and paper label can hinder recycling. Make sure to separate the different material types before recycling. Disposable coffee cups are not recyclable, because they are a mix of paper and plastic that cannot be separated.   Chip bags are also not recyclable because they are usually comprised of plastic and aluminum foil.
  • Hazardous material and electronic waste (including batteries) cannot be disposed of in your recycling, organics and/or trash containers, nor in the environment, down drains, and/or gutters. These items require special handling. For the LA County collection program, events, and drop-off centers, visit LADPW.org/EPD/HHW.

Let’s all do our part and help preserve our sparse recourses by reusing goods and reducing waste. For more information go to AthensServices.com/Outreach-Materials/