Something not everyone knows about recycling is that water and soda bottles should be emptied before being placed in recycling bins.

Full bottles, or bottles with any liquid in them, mean extra weight in the trucks that transport recyclables – and the more a truck weighs, the more gasoline is consumed, making the whole process less environmentally friendly.

When Tim, the other ecycler cofounder, and I set up some recycling bins at a conference we experienced the non-empty bottle problem. We setup up wireframe style recycling bins that hold a trashbag. Throughout the day we watched the bags fill up. When we went to take down the bins at the end of the day we almost could not pick them out without the trash bag breaking. We found that many of the beverage bottles were more than half full!

To encourage people in offices and public places to properly recycle their plastic bottles, ecycler recommends placing recycling bins next to sinks or drains so that people can empty the bottles first. Or placing a sign on the recycling bin to remind people to empty their bottles before depositing them in the bin.

Also, the recycle bin should be placed near to a trash can. Some people are creatures of convenience and will not seek out the garbage can if the recycle bin is more convenient for their dumping. In that case, garbage will end up in the recycle bin and can possibly taint the recyclables.

The Lesson

  • Bottles and cans should be emptied before placing them in the recycle bin
  • Place a trash can near to the recycle bin for convenient disposal of trash in the appropriate receptacle and recyclables in their bin