Curbside recycling programs are convenient for residents in cities and towns because they do the majority of work by picking up bins of recycling and taking them to the recycling center. The exact items you can leave on the curb vary from city to city, but there are a few universal rules when it comes to leaving your recycling out. Take these rules seriously because, in many cases, if a rogue bit of trash, especially dirty trash, makes its way into the recycling bin, the entire bin is trashed, leaving all your work for nothing.
Leave all the Usual Suspects
The most common items picked up at your curb include plastic water bottles and glass jars and paper, such as newspaper, junk mail and scrap paper. You'd be hard pressed to find a curbside recycling program that doesn't take these items. Some communities do single stream recycling, which means you put everything into one bin, while others require you to separate the items into separate containers. Whatever the rules, these three main items should always go in the recycling bin.
Recycle Magazines and Other Reading Material
You can give magazines and books that you've already read new life by donating them to your local library, but if that doesn't interest you, you can also put them in the recycling. Magazines and paperback books are taken by most curbside recycling programs, but check with the ones in your area to learn about hardback books.
Almost all food packaging can be recycled, but check with your city to see what specific packaging they take. Tin cans, such as those that contain beans, fruits and vegetables, are usually included, as are cardboard boxes, such as cereal, pasta and cracker boxes. Soda cans and aluminum foil are also recyclable, provided that you've rinsed them and there are no food particles clinging to them. One caveat for food packaging is cleanliness. Always rinse food packaging, if necessary, because one piece of dirty packaging can contaminate an entire bin of recyclables, which means the entire thing ends up in the landfill instead of being recycled.
Items To Recycle Elsewhere
There are some items that your curbside recycling program most likely doesn't pick up. That doesn't mean that you can't recycle them, but it does mean you need to do the legwork to see where you can take them. For example, many large retail stores take plastic bags, which aren't usually picked up curbside. Batteries, light bulbs, electronics and aerosol cans are all recyclable, but they aren't usually included in curbside recycling programs. There are plenty of private owned recycling companies, like Industrial Services Inc, that often recycle items that your city provided recycling service will not. Call your city office to determine where you can take these items.