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Three Reasons Why You Should Toss Food-Contaminated Waste Where It Belongs -- And That's Not In The Office Recycle Bin

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If you manage or direct an industrial facility and are trying to reduce the amount of waste you send out -- and trying to increase the amount of material that gets recycled -- you must be extra careful about how your employees dispose of their lunch materials. You can easily ruin any attempt to decrease waste if they place the waste in the wrong bins. While some of the waste will be recyclable, like clean cardboard containers or plastic drink bottles, other items will have to be thrown away due to food contamination. Here are three reasons food-contaminated items can't go in the recycling bin; remind your employees of these so that they don't end up causing a problem down the recycling line.


Any greasy items, like used napkins or grease-stained plates, need to be tossed in the trash. If they make it into the recycling stream, they could ruin whole batches of recycled materials.

When paper and cardboard items are recycled, they're minced up and mixed with water to form a slurry. If there is any grease in that slurry, it prevents the slurry from forming properly. The result is that the entire batch of slurry -- not just the one item or the grease in the slurry -- has to be thrown out. In other words, a little bit of grease will make a lot of recycling no longer useful.


Recycling and trash are sometimes collected on different schedules, with recycling often collected less frequently than trash. This is why you're supposed to rinse out cans, for example; you don't want sticky soda syrup residue attracting bugs. If your employees throw food-contaminated waste, like ketchup-stained napkins, into the recycling bin, that becomes a pest magnet if the recycling bin isn't emptied daily. It can also start to smell bad, too.


Another threat is from bacteria that can contaminate bin edges and spread via people's hands if they touch the bin. Food containers that have dairy products or bits of other perishables stuck on them can become breeding grounds for bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. You don't want your recycling bins to end up becoming health hazards.

If you need more information about what you can and can't recycle, and what needs to be thrown away, contact the waste disposal companies that work in your area, like Bobcat Disposal Of Sarasota and other locations. They can give you comprehensive lists of what has to be trashed in order to preserve what can be recycled.