You Might Not Have To Rinse Your Recyclables After All

Recycling policies vary from place to place, but you've probably heard that you should rinse your jars, bottles and cans before putting them in the recycling bin. In reality, you probably don't have to stress about it. Over at KQED, Recology recycling centre manager Robert Reed says that we really don't need to waste water rinsing our recyclables.

A half full jar of peanut butter would be too much, Robert says, but their equipment is prepared to handle some residue.

This might vary by recycling facility, but Ecomyths also agrees (in a way):

Why do the service requirements differ so much? And what happens if you don't follow your local guidelines? We posed those and other questions to Eric Masanet, PhD, a Northwestern University Energy and Resource Systems Analysis Laboratory professor and researcher, and editor-in-chief of science journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling. His short take: It's smart to follow the rinsing guidelines in your area, but not necessary to stress if you sometimes forget.

The video above shows how recycling works when it leaves your bin, which is pretty neat. Almost as neat as not worrying about having those jars squeaky clean.

What Happens to San Francisco's Recycling Once It Leaves the Curb? [KQED]


    That's good to know. Sometimes I wonder if the water I'm using washing them offsets somewhat whatever benefit there is in recycling.

      I have never, ever washed anything, I also don't put in half full jars, I just dump the contents in the bin or down the drain.

      however my aunty, who is 50 something, washes/rinses EVERYTHING, caps, tins, milk bottles..

    Your recycling bin may be emptied less frequently than your general bin, have unbagged waste including open jars, tins etc. Rinsing food off may mean it attracts less insects (or cats, mice....)

    At least their garbage truck driver actually gets out and picks up the bins.
    Where I live everything, no matter how big, has to be put in a bin because getting out of the truck isn't in the driver's job description.

      "...isn't in the driver's job description."

      Around our way, neither is righting your bin when the arm causes it to fall over when it replaces it because the truck's already doing 20kph and accelerating, or dropping it in the middle of your driveway so you have to shift it before you can get in/out of your drive.

    People actually wash their recyclables.?

      I don't even take the lids off jars after I found out our council was just dumping them into landfill anyway.

    At a local fete, the recycling rep said we don't need to wash, or remove lids, labels etc, as all the plastics are water separated (it gets ground up and the different types of plastics float a different levels).

    I wash my recyclables. Not for the sake of the recycling plant, but because I live in Japan where different types of recyclables are only taken once a month. Unless I'm lucky, that empty jar of jam will be sitting around for a few weeks waiting for glass recycling day, giving it plenty of time to start growing a culture of a future antibiotic. Or just regular old mold.

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