Our Zero Waste Committee is always sleuthing and answering your questions about how to recycle certain items. For example, we discovered that most plastic “clamshell” containers are PETE#1 Thermoform Plastic, rather than #1 Rigid Plastic, and is therefore not recycled by a typical curbside pick-up. Further into our investigations, we recently learned Mountain View Waste is no longer accepting Plastics #3-7, and only #1-2. Here’s some other facts we learned from a phone call about recycling with Mountain View Waste in addition to what is listed on their website:
*No waxed cartons (milk, broth, etc.)
* No lids of any kind (water bottles, peanut butter jars, yogurt containers, etc.). All lids go into the garbage regardless of what they’re made of.
* No clamshell containers except No. 1 rigid plastics (NOT “PET”) with the lids separated from the bottoms. No whole containers.
* No crushed aluminum cans — they must be rinsed and whole.
What about Waste Management?
They still collect plastics #1-7, but don’t accept any glass, and of course wouldn’t take waxed cartons, #1PETE plastics, or other random items that people often think are recyclable by “Wishcycling.” Check their acceptable list for recycling in our area here. Please note that Waste Management is a national company, and therefore some of the recycling information you might find online through their website may conflict with our regional info. For example, they accept glass and cartons in some areas, but not in the Evergreen area.
The Bottom Line
Although single-stream recycling has greatly increased the number of people who recycle, we still have a long way to go in terms of educating ourselves as well as businesses keeping customers up-to-date about their practices based on the market for plastics, contamination, and other factors. Mountain View wasted listed contamination and a lack of outsourcing options (i.e. China, etc.) as the reason for discontinuing the acceptance of Plastics #3-7. Elected officials also play a key role in creating a policy that works. But this doesn’t mean we should stop recycling. Quite the opposite! Please make sure you are only putting in items that can be recycled (check the number of a plastic on the bottom of the container) and that they are clean and completely free of food residue (as emphasized by the rep at Mountain View Waste).
The Problem with Single-Use
At the end of the day, however, single-use plastics (or single-use anything for that matter) are in no-way a climate conscious or sustainable choice. EAS+Y recommends avoiding as much plastic as possible, in general, because even if it’s recycled, it takes a whole lot of energy to produce, ship, and recycle that product if it could have been avoided in the first place. Additionally, recycled plastics lower in in quality each time, eventually becoming unusable and unrecyclable (until we figure out a way to recycle all types of plastic). We’d love for you to take the Plastic Free July Challenge with us
, and try to avoid as much single-use plastic for the month of July as possible. Often challenges like this are a supportive first-step establishing a new habit, which in this case is a plastic-free, more sustainable lifestyle.
As for recycling, we encourage you to call your service provider and elected representatives directly to voice your concerns and hear updates first-hand! As always, please email us
if you have a question about recycling.