Today we’re diving into a topic near and dear to many residents around Wake County — recycling. Here’s a look at how it works locally, what is accepted, where to bring your non-standard items + more. ♻️
The basics: Recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators (plus, keeps trash out of our streets, rivers + oceans). When materials are properly recycled, they can be used to create new materials — which in turn conserves natural resources, reduces the need to collect new raw materials ( therefore limiting pollution), saves energy + supports local manufacturing. 🌎 Bonus: In 2016, 757,000 jobs + $36.6 billion in wages were created through U.S. recycling programs, according to the EPA.
The process: After collection, recyclables are sent to a recovery facility (locally at 4619 Industry Lane in Durham + 111 S. Rogers Lane in Raleigh) to be sorted, cleaned and processed into materials that can be used in manufacturing. Sonoco is the local company that is in charge of our recycling – and they also have industrial + commercial recycling programs. Once they are turned into the processed materials they can be used for any number of things such as newspapers, paper towels, soft drink containers, steel cans + plastic laundry detergent bottles. The recycling loop is continued when consumers choose to buy new products made from recycled materials. Last year, Wake County recycled approximately 6,000 tons (with a 3% contamination rate) while Durham recycled around 15,000 tons (with a 15% contamination rate).
What can (and can you not) recycle in the big blue bins? For one, plastic bags and paper towels are a no-go. (Plus, any pizza boxes with excess grease). Basically all other daily-use items are accepted including cereal boxes, glass bottles, newspapers + more.
What about used cooking oil, motor oil, electronics, packing peanuts, and other hard to recycle materials? Those need to go to special pick-up locations. Don’t worry, we have the 411 for you here. ⬇️
What can + can’t you you recycle in Raleigh?
The following recyclables are accepted in the City of Raleigh —
- Plastics marked # 1-7 or PETE, including bottles, jugs, and clamshells, as well as deli containers, produce boxes, and dairy containers such as yogurt and margarine tubs (but leave out the flat lids, which clog equipment)
- Milk, juice + soup cartons
- Glass bottles and jars
- Metal food and beverage cans + aluminum foil (if it’s been cleaned of all food residue)
- Empty aerosol cans
- Newspapers and inserts
- Corrugated cardboard + moving boxes
- Mixed paper, including catalogs, junk mail, magazines, envelopes, manila envelopes, office paper, phone books, glossy paper, post-it notes, cereal and similar boxes, brown paper bags + empty paper towel tubes
The following items are not accepted in your regular recycling bins (we’ve shared some tips and alternatives for keeping them out of the landfill) —
- Used cooking oils
- Motor oil + used oil filters
- Appliances, including stoves or washing machines
- Medical equipment
- Empty propane tanks
- Styrofoam (regardless of type and the number on the item)
- Plastic bags, shopping bags, cereal bags, Ziploc bags, shrinkwrap, dry cleaning bags, chip bags. | Alt: Reuse plastic bags as small trash can liners, and wash out your Ziploc bags or switch to silicone bags that you can put in the dishwasher.
- Plastic soda can rings | Tip: Cut these before throwing away so they don’t get stuck around wild-life
- Plastic bubble wrap | Alt: take to any UPS store
- Hardcover books | Alt: drop these off at a local Little Free Library
- Batteries | Alt: Recycle at Lowes or Home Depot through the Call2Recycle program. Batteries can also be recycled at Hard to Recycle Events and given to electronic stores.
- Paint cans
- Flower pots | Alt: Recycle with Lowes
- Hard, bulky plastics (kiddie pools, toys, buckets, chairs)
- Tooth brushes, plastic razors, cosmetic + soft plastic personal care containers
- Sharp objects (such as knives or needles)
- Fluorescent + compact fluorescent light bulbs
- Car batteries | Cannot be thrown away; many stores accept them, especially when you buy a new car battery
Where to recycle in Raleigh?
Have something you know you can recycle, but it won’t fit in your big blue bin? Here are options for drop-off.
Can corrugated cardboard be put in the mixed residential bins? Yes, but make sure you break down and flatten all corrugated cardboard
Do bottles and containers need to be rinsed? Yes, bottles, jars and cans should be thoroughly emptied and rinsed.