SPOKANE, Wash. — Before you throw your holiday waste into the recycling bin, the SMaRT Center in Spokane is asking you to double-check that it belongs there.
Many well-intentioned people want to recycle as much waste as they can, so they put all items that seem recyclable into their bin, thinking that recycling centers can work out the details and sift through things that shouldn't be there.
Here's the thing, though: putting items into your recycling bin that can't be recycled can end up contaminating the entire load (meaning the items can't be processed and can even damage the recycling center's equipment).
Because of this, contaminated loads are often just thrown out, and instead of increasing your recycling output you can end up sending your entire bin to the dump (along with your neighbors').
It's a big problem. In a national report in 2013, Waste Management said that it saw on average 16% of loads contaminated, and as much as 50% at times.
One of the reasons recycling can be hard is that different items are accepted in different communities. The SMaRT Center in Spokane CAN'T accept tissue paper, bows, ribbon, or bags, but it CAN accept some wrapping paper as long as it's not wax coated (an easy way to make sure is by searching the label for a "recyclable" icon).
And, remember: a misplaced item in the recycling bin can cause a lot of damage and a lot of waste, which is why the SMaRT Center told KREM 2: "The best advice for holiday related wrappings... when in doubt, throw it out."