In this new series, recycling-and-sustainable-pro Charlotte Dreizen will answer a wide array of listeners’ recycling-related questions.
Our first episode tackles all things paper. Here is a sneak peek into the discussion:
Waste360: As materials go, paper is the most recycled item in the U.S., right?
Dreizen: It is. It’s the material that we generate the most of and that makes up the biggest slice of the pie of what we’re recycling today. And, the majority of questions I get on Twitter have to do with paper recycling — there’s a lot of interest and confusion around it. And, with the pandemic, folks have so much more paper coming through their doors than they have in the past.
Waste360: What in particular do you think has happened to the stream during the pandemic?
Dreizen: We’re definitely seeing more paper and cardboard that ever before. And pizza boxes are a big flash-blub item for folks. Pizza boxes are very able to be recycled — really high-quality fiber, but unfortunately a lot of municipalities discourage the recycling of them, even though paper mills want them and can process them no matter the grease. So that’s really resonated with folks. And I really hope municipalities start calling out pizza boxes as an item they can recycle. Also, a lot of people are really confused about tape on cardboard boxes, and it’s important for folks to know that it’s not a problematic contaminant.
Waste360: Is there anything you think businesses can do to increase their recycling of paper?
Dreizen: Yes, businesses don’t tend to do as good of a job recycling paper as residential households, in general. So, they could do a better job providing signs in both front of house and back of house. Also, increased education with employees as well as patrons who may be coming in and out of the businesses. And it’s really helpful to be consistent.
Waste360: Is there anything in the paper world that people would be surprised to know is not recyclable?
Dreizen: One item is receipts — unfortunately they have a BPA coating on them, which is not a material we want to be introducing into the recycled-paper supply.
Watch the full episode above!