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Recycle This, Trash That

Check this space regularly for tips and important information about West Hartford recycling. And please share your ideas, questions, and concerns!

Recyclable items such as a whipped cream canister and peanut butter jar are in my kitchen recycling bin, awaiting transfer to the big blue barrel. Photo credit: Ronni Netwon
Recyclable items such as a whipped cream canister and peanut butter jar are in my kitchen recycling bin, awaiting transfer to the big blue barrel. Photo credit: Ronni Netwon

What should we do with greasy pizza boxes?

What about whipped cream containers?

Jars with peanut butter stuck to them?

As West Hartford launches a new campaign to increase residential recycling, one of the most important components is education. The list of materials that are acceptable in the town’s single stream recycling process has grown significantly since West Hartford contracted with ReCommunity Recycling in Nov. 2012. However, there will always be questions.

We will publish “Recycle This, Trash That” on a regular basis as part of the campaign to increase recycling. Surprises are guaranteed!

One reader suggested a “Trash Court” where residents can submit their questionable items for judgment, and that’s essentially what we plan to do. If you have a question, add it as a comment to this article or email it to ronninewton17@gmail.com. We’ll reply right away and include the questionable item in a future installment.

The following items are some of the items that have already been mentioned in reader comments on articles or Facebook:

Colored plastic: It doesn’t matter what color it is. If a plastic container has a recycling symbol #1-#7 on it, RECYCLE.

5-gallon bucket: Rigid plastics such as buckets, laundry baskets, and children’s toys are now part of the single stream process, so RECYCLE. The handle should be removed if it’s metal.

Greasy pizza box: Although the box is made of cardboard, which definitely is recyclable, the grease is not welcome in the recycling process. Throw it in the TRASH. However, if any portion is not greasy, it can be recycled.

Whipped cream or shaving cream canister: You can RECYCLE all aerosol cans, as long as they do not contain hazardous materials. Whipped cream, shaving cream, hair spray, and sunscreen containers are among the items that are recyclable. (Just make sure the cannisters are empty before throwing them into the barrel.) A canister of WD40, for example, cannot be recycled because even if it’s empty it contains oil residue.

Peanut butter jar: The plastic containers are RECYCLABLE, however, it’s really hard to clean out the peanut butter residue. One helpful hint is to allow the jar to sit for an hour or so with some warm soapy water in it. Then put the top back on and shake it up before rinsing. That should remove most of the peanut butter. The top of the jar can go in the recycling bin, too.

Hershey’s Kiss wrappers: Did you get some kisses for Valentine’s Day? If you have any left, it’s important to know that you can RECYCLE the foil wrappers. Because the wrappers are so small and could easily blow away when they get dumped into the truck, West Hartford’s Environmental Services Manager David Gabriele suggests placing all of your kiss wrappers inside other foil you are recycling. All foil is recyclable, as long as it’s clean.

Keep your questions coming!

Ronni Newton is a freelance writer who is contracted as the recycling promoter for the Town of West Hartford. She will be providing a regular series of articles about what can and can’t be recycled, and updates about the progress of the town’s recycling initiative.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Patti Sheehan Albee February 27, 2014 at 07:03 PM
what about wrapping paper?
Ronni Zimbler Newton February 27, 2014 at 07:31 PM
Wrapping paper can be recycled!
Aj Simpson February 28, 2014 at 11:11 AM
what about shredded paper?
John E. Hardy February 28, 2014 at 11:40 AM
Ronni: You mention the top of the peanut butter jar as recyclable in your piece. Presumably that is a plastic top. What about the metal tops to glass jars of, say, pickles? Are those tops considered eligible...or verboten "scrap metal?"
Ronni Zimbler Newton February 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM
Metal jar tops – from pickle jars, spaghetti sauce jars, etc. – can also go in the recycling bin. The lids need to be rinsed and left off the jars. And Aj - this will be covered in a later article but to answer your question, shredded paper is okay to include but put it all together in a tied up plastic bag. In fact that's really the only time plastic bags should go in your recycling bin. The employees at the recycling facility will pluck the bags of shredded paper out of the stream, and having all the shreds together will keep them from flying around.
John E. Hardy February 28, 2014 at 01:35 PM
Thanks. And we actually use those large paper leaf bags to accumulate shredded paper. Once full, we put that in the recycling can. (We also use the shredded paper as the initial fire-starter in the fireplace rather than intact sheets of newsprint).
liz schott March 01, 2014 at 08:04 AM
Ronnie I think it is great that you are doing this!!! I am so glad that West Hartford is taking a stronger stance on recycling and waste reduction. I am the Green Leaf teacher at Duffy for our Green Team which looks at waste reduction in our school. One thing we are doing is how to use repurposed materials to create art and other objects. There use to be a place in MA where people could go get recycled materials to build projects. I would love to see that happen here. If you know of anything please pass along. Thanks!
Linda Wright March 01, 2014 at 11:14 AM
What about paper plates, cups, and napkins (think: Dixie)? Paper towels? Tissues?

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