Dear Recycle Lady,
I know that only bottles and jugs can be recycled and to be a bottle or jug, the cap on top must be smaller than the bottom. What do I do with a bottle whose top appears to be very close to the same size as the bottom? Will it recycle?
Dear Puzzled Recycler,
You are correct in saying that the only plastics that recycle are bottles and jugs. Accepting other plastics, such as clam shells or black plastics, could cause the buyer to reject an entire batch. When considering what to do with a bottle that appears to have the same size top and bottom, remove the top. Now the upper part of the bottle is probably smaller than the bottom part and will recycle. It’s always good to remove the tops from plastic bottles and jugs as the tops and bottoms of a bottle are made from different types of plastics.
Dear Recycle Lady,
Are masks recyclable?
Not Wearing Them Now
Dear Not Wearing Them Now,
It depends on whether your masks are disposable or cloth. Disposable masks are not recyclable and are a problem for disposal. The United Kingdom estimated that one disposable mask used each day by their citizens would create 72,763 tons of contaminated waste and 62,832 tons of plastic packaging waste. According to earth911.com, an eco-entrepreneur in India is working to convert disposable masks into construction bricks. Abaca, a biodegradable fiber from banana plants, is a possible replacement for the polyester and plastics used in making biodegradable medical masks.
If your masks are made of cloth, are machine-washable, and you live in a community that offers textile recycling, your cloth masks may be recyclable. However, because of the health risk, many communities that accept textiles do not accept masks. Currently, there is no textile recycling in this area.
Never dispose of masks, disposable, or cloth, in open trash cans or outdoors where they could become litter. Masks that find their way into the environment release microplastics and if they have been exposed to a virus, they are a potential health risk to anyone who may pick them up. Before disposing of a mask, be sure to cut the strings. Wildlife and marine life can get tangled up in them. It is recommended that used masks, disposable or cloth, be sealed in a small bag before putting them in a trash bag.
Have you taken the Plastic Free July challenge? Earthday.org is working to reduce the millions of tons of plastics being used. The plastics of today will outlive not only us, but our children’s children. Please consider joining 326 million participants worldwide who have taken the challenge. Make just one change, such as refusing single-use plastic utensils for take-out or taking a reusable bag when shopping. It all adds up over time!
Have questions about recycling, or interesting information about recycling? Send questions or information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dear Recycle Lady is sponsored jointly by the Greenbrier Recycling Center and Greenworks Recycling.