Yesterday’s post covered why I don’t include a chapter on recycling in Simplicious Flow. Today, let’s do a fun quiz (!) to help us become better recyclers (!), for those occasions when we must resort to it after buying less, avoiding disposables, and repurposing what we have, bearing in mind that a survey of 2000 adults by the British Science Association found that not a single person surveyed could correctly identify what items could and couldn’t be recycled. How do you reckon you fare?

P.S. Answers at bottom.

P.P.S. The examples I’ve chosen here are pretty much universal and aren’t particular to the state, council, country you’re in…mostly.

A “Is it recyclable?” Quiz

Have a go…answers below.

  1. Is the foil from chocolate bars recyclable? 
  2. What about beer bottle tops?
  3. Should we rinse cans, bottles and plastic containers, etc. You might have heard different opinions?
  4. What about pump dispensers? You know, the fancy bits on the top of hand soaps etc.
  5. Can we recycle aerosol cans?
  6. Here’s a hoary one: takeaway coffee cups – are they actually recyclable?
  7. What’s the deal with those funny little soy fish? Recyclable? Or planetary obscenity?
  8. Does plastic party stuff go in the recycle bin?
  9. Pizza boxes? And other dirty paper things, like kitchen paper?
  10. Do we need to pull the plastic windows off envelopes?
  11. Should we remove labels on cans or bottles?
  12. Plastic straws?
  13. Wet wipes…what do you do with these?

The Answers

  1. Yeah. But. ONLY if it’s scrunched into a chunk that’s at least golf-ball sized before putting into the recycling. Loose bits of foil will get lost in the sorting machinery and clog up systems.
  2. Yep. But, again, ONLY if they’re not left loose (they’ll clog systems) and are instead stuffed into another steel container (like a tin), and squished shut .
  3. Nope. Don’t! They need to be completely empty, but there’s no need to rinse them unless they contain big chunks of goop(leftover foods or liquids can contaminate other recyclables). Rinsing can make them mouldy, which causes issues at the plant.
  4. No! Toss the pump in the main bin and recycle the bottle part only.. Actaully, stet that!  Instead, rinse and refill them at a local bulk food shop. Or, better, buy the non disposable version of the damn thing e.g. a bar of ordinary soap.
  5. Yep. Sure can. Planet Ark recommends you ensure they are completely empty, then taking off the plastic lids and either plonking them in a container with other like plastics (if they’re small) or leaving them loose if they’re larger. Of course, you’re not actually buying aerosol cans anymore, are you?!
  6. Reality check…No! Most takeaway cups, unless they are clearly marked biodegradeable (rare!), are NOT recyclable . People, they contain a layer of plastic inside the paper that lasts, on some predications, 400 years!! I know shocking hey! Planet Ark, however, reckons that if your council accepts milk and juice cartons, it should be able to handle the odd coffee cup without any problem, if the cup is flattened. Note, though: the plastic lid can be recycled.
  7. The latter. As with all tiny bits of plastic, these guys will get lost in and clog processors. Use stuff from the bottle at the takeaway. Better still, sit in to eat.
  8. Noooo. Plastic knifes, forks and spoons are not recyclable as they can’t be separated by the sorting machines. But some councils will accept plastic plates (these are made of the same brittle plastic as butter, cream and margarine containers – they have the number 6 inside the triangular mobius loop symbol).
  9. Hmmmm, pizza boxes are made from corrugated cardboard, however once soiled with grease, the paper can often not be recycled because the paper fibers will not be able to be separated from the oils during the pulping process. Ditto with any paper used to soak up grease. Some say you can chuck them in the compost…but check with your system first. Slightly soiled paper is OK, though.
  10. Yup! Paper is one of the most valuable recyclable materials, as long as it is clean and free of plastic and food.
  11. Nah. They will be removed in the recycling process with ease.
  12. Nope. Never. Not at all. Don’t touch them. Ever. Google “straws” and “turtles” if you want a visual prompt.
  13. No. And they can’t go in the loo either. My solution? Use a washable face cloth. Please?

How’d you go? I’m definitely not trying to shame anyone here. I mean, you probably did better than those Brits in that survey. My point is really to get us all to learn this stuff and then to teach those around us and then hopefully critical mass will see a shift…yeah?

Have your say, leave a comment.