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12/27/2018 5:25:00 PM
What goes into recycle bin might not be recyclable at all
Aluminum cans,show at the OmniSource recycling center, can be recycled but items like plastics bags and electronics can not. Staff photo by Mike Moore
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Aluminum cans,show at the OmniSource recycling center, can be recycled but items like plastics bags and electronics can not. Staff photo by Mike Moore

Sherry Slater, Journal Gazette

Sure, Dad loves the new gas grill you gave him for Christmas. But what's he supposed to do with the old one?

That's where professional recyclers come in.

As the holiday hoopla dies down, folks across the region are wondering what to do with their old laptop computers, dried out Christmas trees, burned out strings of lights, and piles upon piles of cardboard boxes.

China, which had taken much of America's recycling in past years, is now insisting on fewer contaminants, such as batteries, foil wrapping paper, ribbons and rigid plastic “blister packs.” If you needed a knife or scissors to break open plastic packaging, chances are it isn't recyclable.

That means sorting centers have to do a better job separating recyclable materials from everything else so they can sell a higher-quality product. When consumers get on board, the task becomes easier.

The goal is to reduce “wishcycling,” the practice of tossing questionable items in the yellow or blue bin in hopes they can be recycled, which has grown more common with the spread of single-sort recycling.

“Industry-wide, we're seeing a shift in education from 'recycle more' to 'recycle better' – or 'recycle right,'” said Lynn Hoffman, co-president of Eureka Recycling in Minneapolis.

Fort Wayne residents should toss some items in the trash bins supplied by Red River Waste Solutions because the materials are just that – trash. But, with care, other items can be sorted into the recycling bin, where they'll eventually find a second life.

The destination depends, of course, on what the item is made of.

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