As we all know, well-meaning individuals can sometimes accidentally do harm. These mistakes can occur in big life moments, but can also occur in everyday actions, like recycling. Many individuals do not know the specifics of recycling rules in their city. Below are some common recycling mistakes. Learning these mistakes can help decrease recycling contamination, and improve the effectiveness of our efforts to help the planet!
Glass: Although glass is recyclable, Corpus Christi’s recycling department is not accepting glass products at this time. The city is also no longer hosting Glass Recycling Events. However, there is a location in which glass products can be dropped off for recycling. Glass can be dropped off at JC Elliot Collection Center, at Highway 286 and Ayers, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Coffee Cups: Have a coffee habit? There’s no need to kick it, but it’s important to keep in mind that hot coffee cups provided at most coffee shops are not recyclable. This sounds blasphemous, considering that hot cups are made of paper, but paper cups made to hold hot drinks are treated with a liquid-resistant coating that renders them un-recyclable. However, these paper cups do provide less waste than styrofoam cups, which also cannot be recycled, and effectively never disintegrate. Seriously! Styrofoam cups might never biodegrade. The most eco-friendly option for coffee transportation is, of course, the reusable tumbler. Most coffee shops are happy to refill your containers or personal mugs (and some might even give you a discount)!
Food Containers: Any container that harbors food residue is not recyclable. Don’t fear — most containers can be made recyclable once they’re washed out. For example, soda cans, food cans, and plastic takeout containers can be recycled once they’re rinsed out and clear of food residue. Unfortunately, paper and cardboard food containers, like donut boxes and pizza boxes, shouldn’t be recycled, because the greasy food residue cannot be removed from the material.
Plastic Shopping Bags: Many cities across the United States have banned the use of plastic shopping bags for this reason: they are not recyclable! Plastic bag bans in Texas may be deemed illegal — check out this Texas Tribune article from January explaining the issue — so it is likely that Corpus Christi won’t be denied single-use shopping bags any time soon. However, these bags cannot be recycled. Reusable cloth bags are the best option, and are available at most grocery stores. (This Grow Local South Texas reusable canvas bag is new and super cute!) If you still have a plethora of old plastic bags stashed in a cabinet somewhere, it doesn’t hurt to reuse them to pick up waste at dog parks or hold wet swimsuits after a trip to the beach.
Miscellaneous Items: In Corpus Christi, we’re lucky to have a recycling department that accepts plastic numbered 1 through 7. Lots of recycling departments only accept certain kinds of plastic. However, it is important to look out for these common items that often cannot be recycled: straws, shiny wrapping paper, soap dispenser tops, microwaveable rice pouches, and plastic bottle tops. Check out this link for the full list of Corpus Christi Recycling Department’s accepted items, and remember to look up the accepted items in any city you visit!