Recycling is Difficult infographic | Dependable Dumpsters

Garbage is Beautiful: Making the Most of Recycling for the World

In 2011, 58% of Americans were cycling on a regular basis. That’s 2x the recyclers of 20 years ago, but our recycling efforts are still falling short!

Environmental Responsibility

Less than half of people care about the environment. Only ¼ of people consider themselves conversationalists or environmentalists. In 2017, 4 in 10 people say they care about the environment and the future of our planet.

In 2014 america produced 258 million tons of trash. 136 million tons of it ended up in landfills. That’s about 53% of all trash produced

Why Do We Throw So Much Away?

A much bigger problem. Manufacturers and retailers should be held accountable for their waste disposal practices. When managed correctly, waste can become a resource and path for revenue. 11% of americans who don’t recycle say they believe recycling doesn’t make an impact of difference.

Easterners are more likely to not recycle because of inconvenience

Americans don’t recycle because..

  1. Inconvenient to every lifestyle
  • 12% say it takes too much effort
  • 6% say they’re too busy
  • 5% say its too difficult
  1. It isn’t an option in the community
  • 15% say it isn’t available in their area
  • 12% say it cost more to recycle where they live

Destruction Happens

During difficult events there is no easy way to recycle or reuse. Event such as:

  • House fires
  • Preparation for estate sales
  • Automobile accidents

Even people with a desire to recycle will resort to throwing things away when forces outside their comfort zones  

Many cities have waste management plans in case of natural disasters

  • Difficult to deal with increase in waste
  • Infrastructure problems may may access harder
  • Emphasis on speed and efficiency, not necessarily environmental responsibility

Americans Are Uneducated On Correct Recycling Procedures

25% of single-stream (unsorted) recycling is thrown in landfills. This costs the industry $700 million per year.

The amount of recyclable glass has dropped due to careless sorting

  • In 2006, 98% of recycled glass was usable
  • In 2016, 50% of recycled glass was usable

How can we improve the quality of our recycling?

Thinking Outside The Recycling Bin

Check in with your local recycling center to see what is accepted. Don’t worry about labels on containers. Labels are removed throughout the recycling process.

Keep that plastic lid or bottle cap on the original container. Lids may cause issue with recycling machinery. Discard small, loose plastic caps/lids

Avoid paper items that cause problems in the recycling process

  • Short paper fibers are more difficult to extract
  • Contamination ruins recycled paper, avoid
    • Heavily dyed papers
    • Used plates or napkins
    • Greasy pizza boxes
    • Paper coffee cups with polyethylene coating

Wipe and clean out food

  • Remove large amount of food
  • Rinse conservatively
  • No need to run through the dishwasher or use soap

Many people know the basis of what belongs in their recycling bins, but what about unusual waste?

How to Dispose of Tricky Items Responsibly

Aerosol cans

  • Collected by some curbside programs
  • Collected at local recycling centers


Alkaline batteries

  • Collected by some curbside programs
  • Collected at local recycling centers

Lithium batteries

  • Collected by call2recycle at common stores

Other types of batteries

  • Collected at specialized recycling centers

Heavily worn clothing

  • Collected by specific retailers
  • Collected by some Goodwills and other second hand stores → wet, moldy, or otherwise hazardous clothes won’t be accepted

The average american tosses 70 pounds of clothing and textiles into landfills each year

Coffee pods→ by 2015 there were an estimated 60 billion K-cups in landfills

  • Seperate the coffee ground from the plastics and foil elements to recycle them in your curbside bin
  • Tools are sold to help with this process (
  • Recyclable K-cups are made of more widely accepted plastic

E-Waste (e.g. appliances, electronics devices, disc, TV, etc.).

Its illegal to throw away e-waste in 25 states (and washington D.C) due to the many toxins they contain. Instead of discarding, try some of these options

  • Collected by manufacturers through a takeback program
  • Collected by Best Buy and Staples
  • Collected by Call2Recycle at common stores
  • Erase your data so it can’t be retrieve by someone else
  • Recyclers may be able to do this for an extra charge
  • Software can also be downloaded to wipe a system

Light bulbs

  • Incandescent (traditional) bulbs cannot be recycled
  • Higher class melting point can ruin a batch of recycled glass

LEDs and CFLs can be easily be recycled

  • Collected at local recycling centers
  • Collected at home improvement stores
  • CFLs must be properly recycled due to mercury content
  • Check with your local hazardous materials recycling center or home improvement center


  • Stores may haul away your old mattress for recycling when a new one is delivered
  • Call a hauling company that recycles
  • Collected at some local recycling centers
  • Collected by some Goodwills and other second hand stores

Plastic bags – E.g. dry cleaning, produce, Ziploc, grocery bags

Americans throw out 102.1 billion plastic bags every year- and recycle less than 1%

Many grocery stores collect plastic bags

Other items

  • Mail-in options help keep specific forms of waste out of trash
  • Find recycling resources in your area: