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Earth Day is April 22 and people could use a refresher when it comes to recycling.
Waste Management officials say the Seattle area is considered a national leader with a recycling rate greater than 50 percent. However, that leaves room for a lot of opportunities.
"We do a pretty good job but yet, nearly half of what we're throwing away could be recycled," says Michelle Metzler, Waste Management's manager of recycling education programs. "So even though we're doing better than most of the rest of the country, we still have a lot of opportunities."
The Cascade Recycling Center in Woodinville sees about 600 tons of material every day that gets hand sorted either by 20 or 30 workers or by machine.
Metzler says people could boost recycling by adding recycling centers to home offices, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Most people do a good job in the kitchen but forget that you can recycle things like toilet paper rolls. She also says don't forget to label the bins.
One small change --leave the lid attached to canned goods. If you can do that, it almost ensures that the lid will be recycled with the can. If not, it will likely fall through the machines. You can also leave the plastic caps on items like plastic bottles, which is a fairly new rule in the world of recycling.
Just remember that you are the first and only line of defense when it comes to recycling. Waste Management officials say there's a misconception that there is a sorter at the landfill.
"There's no one sorting your stuff that goes in the trash," said Hannah Scholes, Waste Management education coordinator. "So it is really important to put all the recyclable things like bottles, paper, and cardboard into the recycling. That's a big one."
Inside Cascade Recycling Center in Woodinville
Also, another myth is that you can recycle anything with the recycling symbol on it.
"Manufacturers can put that on any item they want," said Scholes. "Recycling is a local process so it's best to check your guides to check what can be recycled. "
One example is foam. Even though it often has the recycling symbol on the bottom, Waste Management does not recycle foam. You can go to the website and see what can be recycled locally.