Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/Recycling is a relatively new habit for the modern world, and while recycling itself has been around in one form or another forever, the process of recycling is developing a rather confusing specificity, separating not just recyclables from trash, but recyclables from other recyclables depending on whether or not the item is glass, plastic, aluminium, metal and so on. All of this is good for the environment and surely more efficient for the actual process of recycling, but it can be a difficult pace to keep up with, and many people are finding themselves unsure of where exactly they’re supposed to place they’re recyclable goods, and how exactly they’re supposed to prepare their goods for recycling.

Colour coded bins have been used to try and streamline the process with visual recognition between certain recyclables and certain colours of bins, but considering the variation in bin appearance, as well as differences in standardized colours depending on where you live, these codes are often lost in translation. To make matters more confusing, certain recyclables need to be taken apart and divvied up into two separate bins; large plastic bottles should typically be rinsed out with water, their caps unscrewed and separated from the bottle itself.

Many areas have instituted common recycling bins that help minimize the confusion, but even common recycling bins have certain protocols that many people aren’t following, including but not limited to the proper cleaning and dismantling of their drink containers. Paper, aluminium, plastic and glass bins can add to the confusion when many glass containers come with plastic caps. Fluorescent light bulbs have their own regulations in place for properly disposing of the florescence, and many cities require fluorescent bulbs to be taken to their own separate hazardous waste recycling facilities, necessitating yet another separation between recyclable materials. Items like old computers can be recycled at local computer and technology businesses, but should not be placed into any standard recycling bins.

Many areas have protocols in place to recycle just about anything that’s still properly sturdy and usable, but some common sense rules should help people abide by generalized standards without having to give themselves a headache over investigating their own local procedures, as procedures have yet to be standardized. It’s always a good idea to clean any item to be recycled. Leftover pieces of food, liquid and grime should be scrubbed or washed out of the item. Anything containing potentially harmful or toxic materials, such as batteries, should either go into the trash or be recycled through local establishments such as auto parts stores, which usually accept old car batteries.

Following proper protocols not only helps with the efficiency of recycling, but aids the workers are recycling plants and industries in keeping their materials separate and saving work hours sorting through heaps of intermixed recyclable goods that cannot be processed together and must be separated regardless of whether citizens or recycling plant employees do the sorting. With a little extra effort, a lot of extra work can be saved, and until recycling specifics become standardized and implemented with countrywide consistency, common sense and mindfulness go a long way in picking up the slack.

It’s a good idea to purchase colour coded bins with clear labels outfitted with both words and pictures, and run through basic preparation procedures for recyclable materials that may need rinsing or dismantling before being put into their allocated bins. Metals, glass, plastics, paper and cardboard, and even yard waste have their own specific recycling bins to help their particular processing at recycling plants, but even a fully outfitted set of recycling bins won’t take every material. Paint tins, electronics, food-contaminated materials and any other compromised material should be thrown in the

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