Dear Recycle Lady,
Today I purchased a take-home fried chicken dinner at Crawford’s. They packaged it neatly and placed it in a cardboard box. Unfortunately, grease from the chicken is on the box. Is it possible to recycle a box with grease on it?
Concerned About the Grease
Dear Concerned About the Grease,
Unfortunately, your cardboard box can’t be recycled with grease on it. When any kind of paper, which includes cardboard, is recycled it is mixed with water to form slurry. Any greasy oils or fat from food particles will not mix with water. According to Stanford University,any greasy oil that is processed with paper fibers results in unusable paper with oil splotches. Grease and food of any kind are a contaminate in all four categories of paper: office paper, cardboard, newspaper, and magazines.
Dear Recycle Lady,
Why must labels be removed from aluminum cat food cans, but not steel cans?
Wants to Know
Dear Wants to Know,
The reason labels are removed from aluminum cans and not steel cans is that steel cans and aluminum cans are recycled differently. Steel, plastics, and glass are all processed with intense high heat which takes care of the labels. Aluminum cans, on the other hand, are processed at a much lower heat. However, there is a good reason for removing the labels from both steel cans and aluminum cans. If they are paper, they can be recycled with magazines or, as a reader suggests, they can be collected and used to start the fire going in the grill. One word of caution, this applies only to paper labels and not plastic labels that are beginning to appear.
Good News: Several companies in New Zealand have announced moves toward more sustainable packaging. By introducing recyclable cardboard bag tags to replace plastic tags, companies in Australia and New Zealand are removing over 100 million plastic bread tags from the waste stream each year!
Did you know July was celebrated as Plastic Free July? The Plastic Free July Challenge was first celebrated in 2011 and has now become a world-wide event. The emphasis of the challenge is to have a world with no plastic waste and to stress the fact that “as consumers, we have so much power to change the world just by being careful in what we buy.” Some of the more popular ideas adopted by participants this year were first, switching away from plastic bags for shopping and as trash can liners, and second, finding plastic free alternatives such as Beeswax Wraps, silicone baggies and recyclable packaging.
Have questions about recycling, or interesting information about recycling? Send questions or requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Dear Recycle Lady is sponsored jointly by the Greenbrier Recycling Center and Greenworks Recycling.