Are you recycling right? Probably not

SEATTLE -- Recycling as we know it, is about to change. Some say it’s the biggest shift since recycling began. And it’s all because of the China Sword, the new restrictions the country put on the quality of recycling it will accept. The policy made it virtually impossible for U.S. recyclers to sell material to its number one recycling customer, China.

As U.S. recyclers look for new markets to sell America’s paper and plastic, recycling is piling up at facilities across the country, including Western Washington.


There is a way you can help, just by watching what you put in your blue recycling bin.

#1. Keep your recycling ‘Empty, Clean, and Dry.’

“You don’t have to spend your weekends on your kitchen counter cleaning your recycling, but we want things to be empty, clean and dry,” said Kevin Kelly, general manager at the local recycling company Recology CleanScapes.

Food waste left in cans and extra soda left in bottles can leak out and contaminate recycled paper. This makes the paper unrecyclable, defeating the purpose of collection.

#2. ‘When in doubt, throw it out.’ Don’t engage in wishful recycling.

Aspirational or wishful recycling is when someone tries to recycle garbage because they hope it is recyclable, but it isn’t. That’s why many municipalities are now pushing a new slogan. Instead of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,’ organizations are pushing the campaign, ‘When in doubt, throw it out’ although some say it should be ‘When in doubt, find out.’


#1: Flexible packaging. This includes chip bags and plastic wrap.

#2: Pizza boxes.

#3: Soda can or water bottle.

#4: Plastic bags, shredded paper, plastic utensils.

If you ever had any specific questions, you’re encouraged to call your recycling provider.