NOTICE 4/5/2024 @ 7:30am:  North Kent Waste & Recycling Center is in the final stretch of its expansion construction. Our recycling drop-off stations at this site have been temporarily moved — click here for the details. Stay tuned here on our website or our social media for updates!

Beyond the Bin: What actually belongs in your recycling bins – WOODTV 8

May 1, 2024

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Picture this: You just finished using a foam cup or a milk carton and you’re about to put it in the recycling bin. But then you think, “Does this belong in the trash instead?” What do you do?

There are a lot of things to remember when you are throwing stuff away especially when you want to be conscious of where it will end up. That’s why the Kent County Department of Public Works revamped its website to make it easier for you. Beyond the Bin: Exploring Kent County’s new recycling and waste website

In case you ever have questions about what belongs in which receptacle when you are ready to part ways with it, the website serves as a guide to help you make informed decisions and keep things that can be recycled out of landfills.

“The whole point of the landfill is to keep trash there and from going out into the environment,” Katelyn Kikstra, a waste reduction educator with the county, said. “We are burying those valuable resources that don’t have a second chance at life, but when we recycle those things, they now get the opportunity to be used not just over and over again once or twice, but sometimes as many as seven times.”

Some of the most commonly misplaced items include those foam cups and milk cartons. Those should be thrown out with regular garbage and recycled, respectively. Clothing should be donated for repair and reuse, vegetable and fruit scraps can be composted, plastic bags should be specialty recycled and latex paint needs to be disposed of properly. Sign up for the News 8 weekly recap newsletter

While it’s important to keep these trash destinations in mind when you’re throwing items away, what might be more important to remember is the effects not properly disposing of them.

“There are environmental impacts as far as climate change from the gases that can be put off from our landfills, the carbon emissions that can be put out from transportation of those materials from one place to another, the carbon emissions that get spent when those materials are being made from virgin materials also,” waste reduction educator Micah Herrboldt said.

To avoid making any mistakes, DPW encourages you if you have questions to check out the website and its guides, which can all be found here.

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