This summer, new social distancing rules have changed the places and ways to gather with others. Gathering outdoors and hosting small events with friends and family remain great ways to enjoy the summer months together. When enjoying a cookout at a park, picking up a meal from a favorite restaurant, or hosting a small group at home, take-out containers, disposable dishes, and cutlery are an easy go-to for reducing the stress of planning a safe get-together. Unfortunately, they’re not good for reducing waste.
Most people think paper and plastic are always recyclable, but that is not the case. Not all paper and plastic can be recycled. Many of our summer alfresco dining items, including paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, and most take-out containers, cannot be placed in the recycling cart. Many paper plates or cups have coatings on them which prevent the fiber from being recycled. Napkins have no usable fiber to recycle and any items contaminated with food can cause problems at the recycling facilities. Plastic silverware also is not recyclable; its size makes it difficult to sort at the recycling facility. Packaging for food or take-out containers can vary and is not always recyclable. Check the packaging labels or refer to the City’s recycling guidelines before tossing take-out containers and packaging in your recycling cart. Remember, plastic bags, plastic film, and black plastics cannot be recycled in most residential collection programs. Please take plastic bags and film to one of many drop off locations (grocery and big box stores) around the area.
A little thought in planning your get-togethers can reduce waste. “For a summer gathering, I grabbed sets of silverware from home for my family,” said Lisa H. “Other family members did the same and we didn’t have a pile of plastic forks, knives, and spoons that had to be thrown into the garbage can at the park. All of us working together with little changes like this can quickly add up to make a big difference.”
Recycling isn’t difficult. Choosing to Recycle Smart keeps unwanted materials out of the recycling cart, builds a stronger recycling program, and improves the health and safety of our community for everyone. To learn how to Recycle Smart, download the free app from Eureka Recycling which lists thousands of items or visit www.stpaul.gov/recycle.