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What is Wishcycling? Promoting Responsible Recycling

What is Wishcycling?

Wishcycling occurs when people place non-recyclable items into the bins, “wishing” they can be recycled. Sadly, however, up to 30% of items Americans try to recycle are not able to be processed. Here are three recycling hacks to ensure what you put on the curb makes it through the recycling process and onto a new life.

Rinse your recyclables and quickly shake them dry.

If dirty or contaminated items make it to a recycling facility, they are generally sent straight to a landfill. Therefore, it is imperative to rinse your recyclables to ensure that they are processed by the recycling facility. Items covered in organic matter may contaminate other recyclables in the bin. If you put a dirty can in the same bin as dry cardboard, it can leak and saturate the cardboard to the point it can no longer be recycled.

Know what can be recycled.

In some areas, people sort their recyclables during drop off, as compared to single-stream pickup. The self-sort method helps to reduce confusion around what items are accepted, as there are posted signs outside of each sorting area that identify what goes where. If you have single-stream recycling, the potential for wishcycling and contamination increases. Therefore, be sure to know what items are accepted at your recycling facility and in what condition. As a general rule, do not bag your recyclables, as bags can interfere with the machinery. Plastic bags can only be processed at select locations and are generally collected by grocery stores.

Don’t be fooled! Items like waxed cardboard, Styrofoam, and hoses cannot be recycled at all. Also, different plastic types have different recycling rates and are not accepted by all facilities. Check out our past article to learn more about the recyclability of different types of plastic.

Our Final Advice

The abilities of recycling facilities vary from place to place. For the best advice on how to manage your waste responsibly, contact your local Department of Public Works. Remember, you can’t “wish” your waste away, but you can certainly be a conscious consumer and avoid wishcycling!

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