Episode 141: Unpacking Recycling with Charlotte


In our latest episode of Nothing wasted!, you’ll get a taste of our new series called “Unpacking Recycling with Charlotte”. In this series, recycling and sustainability pro Charlotte Dreizen will answer a wide range of questions from listeners about recycling.

This first episode covers everything related to paper. Here is an overview of the discussion:

Waste360: When it comes to materials, paper is the most recycled item in the US, right?

Drizen: He is. It’s the material we produce the most and makes up the biggest slice of the pie of what we recycle today. And the majority of questions I get on Twitter are about paper recycling – there’s a lot of interest and confusion around that. And, with the pandemic, people have so much more paper coming through their doors than they had in the past.

Waste360: What in particular do you think has happened to the stream during the pandemic?

Drizen: We are certainly seeing more paper and cardboard than ever before. And pizza boxes are a big flash-blub for people. Pizza boxes are very recyclable — really high-quality fiber, but unfortunately many municipalities discourage recycling them, even though the paper mills want them and can process them regardless of fat. So it really resonated with people. 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 people to know that it’s not a problematic contaminant.

Waste360: Is there anything you think businesses can do to increase their paper recycling?

Drizen: Yes, businesses don’t tend to do as good a job of recycling paper as residential households, in general. So they could do a better job of providing panels in front and behind the house. Also, increased education of employees as well as customers who can enter and exit businesses. And it really helps to be consistent.

Waste360: Is there anything in the world of paper that people would be surprised to know is not recyclable?

Drizen: One item is receipts – unfortunately they have a coating of BPA, which is not a material we want to introduce into the recycled paper supply.

Listen to the full episode above.



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