Las Vegas Sun

December 6, 2021

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Guest column:

Resolve to be a better recycler this year

Most New Year’s resolutions can be expensive and daunting, but resolving to be a better recycler is easy.

We all start somewhere, and whether you’re a brand new or an on-and-off recycler, these tips will help you make recycling a simple habit all year.

• Know what to throw. Several materials are considered recycling gold because of their ability to be remade into new products. Focus on cardboard, paper, aluminum cans and plastic bottles and jugs to make the most impact.

• Empty, clean and dry. These are the three magic words of recycling. Every item in your recycling bin should be free of liquid and food residue (think ketchup bottles). When items are soiled, they can contaminate other perfectly good recyclables (think paper), and those contaminated materials will end up in a landfill. Give your recyclable containers a rinse, then tap out the excess water, leaving no more than a teaspoon.

• When in doubt, throw it out. There will be times when you just aren’t sure whether something should be recycled. In those cases, it’s best to toss the item in the waste bin. For example, a pizza box is made of cardboard, but if grease and cheese are stuck to the box, it can’t be recycled. Same goes for to-go coffee cups, paper plates, napkins and towels.

• Don’t bag it. While it might seem to make sense to place recyclables in a plastic bag, it’s a big no-no. Materials must stay loose so they can easily be sorted and separated at the recycling center. And that plastic bag isn’t recyclable via your curbside program. (But most grocery stores have plastic bag collection bins near the entrance.)

Follow these tips and you can happily check one of the resolutions off your list. For more tips, videos and resources about recycling, visit

Curtis McFerguson is general manager of the Republic Services Southern Nevada Recycling Center in Las Vegas.