• Amber James

The Do's & Don'ts of Recycling

On Wednesday, September 5, Meghann Maves of Waste Management came to the University of St. Francis to discuss what can and cannot be recycled. The meeting was open to students and staff for those interested in learning more about recyclable items. Maves is a Recycling Program Manager for Waste Management Recycling Services, focusing on finding ways to increase landfill diversion, by launching, maintaining, and educating the Chicago area on the benefits of recycling and food scrap composting programs. Junior Allyson Goldrick states, “It was really helpful learning about what I can recycle. I felt like I never knew for sure, but now I do!”

Photo Courtesy of Amber James

Unfortunately, there is no single answer to what is acceptable for recycling, since municipal programs vary. To find out which materials your community accepts, it is best to check with your closest Waste Management facility. In general, the materials and tips below are accepted and appreciated within many programs. However, some items don’t belong in your recycling bin at all. Read below for the “do’s and don’ts” of recycling, according to Meghann Maves from Waste Management.


  • Keep your recycling dry (wet items can ruin and contaminate other recyclable items)

  • Corrugated cardboard (boxes)

  • Magazines

  • Office paper (all colors)

  • Newspapers

  • Paperboard (cereal boxes)

  • Paper cardboard dairy/juice cartons (in limited areas only)

  • Unsolicited direct mail (even window envelopes are okay)

  • Textbooks (Soft cover, but hard cover is OK without the binding and hardcover itself)

  • Plastic Bottles

  • Dairy and Juice Containers

  • Steel, Tin & Aluminum Cans

  • Water Bottles with the caps

  • Phone books

  • Glass bottles and jars (unbroken)

  • Paper Coffee Cup Sleeve Only (the cup and lid are not recyclable)


  • Anything wet (can contaminate other items)

  • Waxed Paper

  • Plastic Clamshell Containers (For fruit, salads, etc. While these containers are derived from #1 plastic resin and have a recyclable symbol, over time the containers become brittle and less valuable.)

  • Salad Dressing Cups

  • Shredded Paper (the pieces fly around, making it messy and hard to keep a facility clean)

  • Food-contaminated Paper (such as a pizza box)

  • Mixed Metal and Paper (like stapled paper – just remove the staple and the paper can be recycled)

  • Plastic Bags (when there are plastic bags, it is hard to determine what is in them and if the contents inside are recyclable as well.)

  • Fruit

  • Polystyrene Foam Cups and Containers

While there are many exceptions for what you can and cannot recycle, the basic idea is this: Keep your recycling dry, clean, and loose. Do not tie things up or leave food residue on the containers. With these things in mind, we are one step closer to a cleaner world.

For more information on recycling, visit www.thinkgreen.com.

Photo Courtesy of Amber James


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