Recycling Tip: How clean do containers have to be?

Many recycling facilities instruct you to clean out food and beverage containers before putting them in the recycle bin. But how clean do they really have to be? Is it okay to just rinse them out, or should you break out the dish soap and sponges?

According to the Mother Jones website, recyclers will accept containers with a little food residue. Generally though, the cleaner a container is, the more money the recycler will make off of it.

The cleaner your containers, the more they’re worth on the recyclables market. Municipal facilities first sort recycling by type (paper, several kinds of plastic, tin, etc.), and then by quality. Workers separate clean recyclables from soiled ones, into bales. “If the bale is lower quality, there is less revenue coming back into the system from the sale of recyclables, which helps pay for the program,” says [Recology spokesperson Robert Reed]. The takeaway: By providing clean recyclables, you can actually save your city (and ultimately, taxpayers) money.

So what should you do? Rinse out your food containers, but don’t worry about making them spotless. A little food residue isn’t the end of the world.

Do you rinse out your food and beverage containers before recycling?

You can read more about this topic here.

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