1 EAGLETON NOTES: Clean Recycling

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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Clean Recycling

As I was washing out a peanut butter jar I was pondering on the hot water, power and washing up liquid  being used to wash out the jar. 

A friend refuses to wash any jars he puts out on the grounds that he will not waste the time and resources I've mentioned.  That's a considered point of view. I know from the smell and flies that a house I pass occasionally does not clean out any animal food tins before disposing of them. That may or may not be a considered and conscious action: it may be sheer laziness or lack of thought.

I have two arguments in favour of washing dirty items before disposing of them. The first is out of consideration for the people who have to work in the plants sorting all the rubbish (or for one's neighbours on a warm day). Degrees of automation in recycling plants vary enormously. The second is that whilst glass  and metal may be automatically cleaned as it is crushed I understand that plastic cannot be. One of the reasons China gave for refusing any more recycling was the amount of plastic that cannot be recycled because it comprises jars etc with food still inside them which have to go to landfill. How true or significant that is I do not know.


26 comments:

  1. I agree. The jars etc that I can clean, I do. Some plastic bottles etc that I'm not able to clean out, I put in the bin for burnable household waste rather than to recycling. (In my city, apart from plastic/glass/paper etc to be recycled, we also separate food waste and "burnable" stuff. The food waste is currently used to produce bio-fuel. The burnable waste is used for long-distance heating. We also have a request not to let household fat go down the drains in our building (as it clogs up the pipes) so there's really a lot to consider, and not easy to get everything "right"...!

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    1. Monica we don't yet do "burnable" waste and I suspect there's not enough here to make it an economic proposition anyway. As for fat going down the drain that can be a major problem and I'm very conscious of that too.

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  2. I don't wash tins and bottles. I mostly burn plastic but not on the BBQ.......Ruins the food. Wash up liquid is deadly to fish. It says so on the Fairy bottle.

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    1. Adrian Monica mentioned burning plastic too (only in a controlled situation to produce heat) and I thought it gave off seriously noxious fumes. I must make sure that I don't try and wash the goldfish with Fairy then..

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    2. I think Monica has hers burnt somewhere with a flu gas scrubber. I use an old oil drum. I don't breath the fumes unless desperate for a smoke.

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  3. Good post!
    I always clean thing before putting them in the recycle bin. Its sickening how people use the bins as garbage cans. I let peanut butter jars soak in old dish water to make it easier to clean them.

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    1. Yes, Maywyn, peanut butter jars are a real bind. I remember posting on their shape (well the shape of the SunPat jars in particular) which make wastage greater and cleaning harder.

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  4. I clean my jars (rinse) but I don't think they're asking for clean , clean. Just basically empty the can.

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  5. Now this has my thought bubble working in over-drive!

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    1. Wow, Lee. That must be your shortest ever comment.

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  6. All our empty GLASS jars go through the washing-up machine before they go to recycle. Tins just get a casual rinse.

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    1. That's interesting Cro. A friend does that and I keep suggesting that she doesn't because I keep having to clear the paper out of the water spinners which get clogged by little bits of the water-sogged labels.

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  7. There aren't that many peanut butter (or other) jars in my small, mostly single, mostly not eating at home, household. But when I have an empty container of any kind, I at least rinse it and, depending on its former contents and material, I wash it properly to avoid a smelly bin underneath the kitchen sink.
    Here in Germany, we are required to separate plastic and glass from paper waste. We also have small brown bins for organic waste (fruit peels etc.) and are severely warned not to use those bins for leftovers of meat. Then there is the "everything else" bin ("Restmüll"). Everything that does not fit into any of the other categories - or you are not sure about it - goes in there.
    Really, separating our household waste has become a science on its own. The new people upstairs and downstairs in my house are from Turkey and Syria. They have had NO IDEA how complicated things can be in daily life in Germany.

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    1. Meike, I think it's a bit of a lottery in Britain. There seem to be big variations between areas.

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  8. I was horrified to learn that Britain exported so much of its waste to China. What a crazy world we live in! I try to wash out all of our cans and jars. Regarding recycling plastics, I don't know how it is on the Isle of Lewis but here in Sheffield you are only meant to put particular plastic items in your blue bin. I save all the rest and every month take it to a recycling point. I am aware that most of my fellow citizens do not go to this trouble and instead put the "other" plastics in their general waste bins. As I say it is a crazy world!

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    1. If I'm absolutely honest, YP, I'm not sure exactly what plastic is and is not recyclable so long as it has a triangle on it (in other words I don't know what the numbers in the triangles mean) but everything (apart from glass) goes to my blue bin. We have one recycling centre and I admit that I assume that they separate it all out there.

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  9. I'm fairly certain that our recycling schemes in Barnsley specifically state no food waste and that everything must be washed out. You certainly can't put cardboard food packets in the recycling if they have food on them (think pizza boxes), and I'm fairly certain the same is true for glass and plastic.

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    1. Well, Mark, those are clear conditions at least.

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  10. I clean and rinse pet food containers, glass containers, etc. before recycling. I have pondered about the use of water and detergent involved, but try not to get too far down that rabbit hole. Where I live in California the recycling of plastic is rather confusing since the plastic numbers (1 through 7) do not necessarily mean they are or are not recyclable.

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    1. Terra the numbering on plastic is beyond me and the vague advice on our re-cycling bins. I just put it all in anyway. Unlike you I live in an area of plentiful water so I have less of a dilemma.

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  11. I've had exactly the same thoughts.I agree that it's best to wash the stuff out, but it can often go in the washing up after everything else has come out. So glad I don't live near anyone who doesn't wash out their dogfood tins! Ugh!

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    1. The problem with that, Jenny, is that it sits around waiting for a washing up and I'm too impatient for that.

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  12. The amount of plastic that goes into making millions of unsightly 'recycling' bins makes me cross too. It strikes me that the focus has been misplaced. It's not so much that consumers are wasteful with plastic but that manufacturers are irresponsible in their packaging.
    (Peanut butter jars are a right pain to get clean!)

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    1. Oddly enough, Lucy, I've never thought about the plastic used for recycling bins although their proliferation is a massive eyesore. I've blogged several times about the design of peanut butter jars.

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