Contamination in recycling bins can negatively affect workers, the environment, and your wallet.

    • Trash mixed with recyclables can be unsafe for haulers or recycling workers who sort through single-stream recycling.
    • Contamination raises the cost of sorting recycling into commodities that can be made into new products. This is why China stopped accepting a large amount of recyclable materials from the U.S. and other developed countries.
      • Buying a recycled commodity that has high amounts of contamination is like buying mixed nuts when all you want are the peanuts. It is more work and expensive to sort through to get what you want.
    • Materials Recovery Facilities, where recyclables are sorted, charge fees for contamination in recycling. These costs trickle down to residents resulting in fee increases.

Sorted and bundled, recycled materials are used to make new products. If a bin is contaminated, all its contents may go directly to the landfill, never to be reused. This means more of our natural resources go to making new products. Each of our homes on average has over 300,000 items—from pens to beds. Imagine how much raw material it would take to make all that from scratch?