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updated: 1/10/2018 5:31 PM

Revamped guidelines should make recycling right easier in Kane County

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  • Kane County is simplifying instructions on how to properly recycle, to avoid messing up the stream of recyclables. Typical contaminants are plastic bags, frozen food boxes and greasy/food-crusted pizza boxes.

      Kane County is simplifying instructions on how to properly recycle, to avoid messing up the stream of recyclables. Typical contaminants are plastic bags, frozen food boxes and greasy/food-crusted pizza boxes.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 

Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland knows you have the best of intentions.

You see a "chasing arrows" symbol on top of a lid for a soda cup and throw it in your recycling container, not the trash can.

It turns out your effort to help the environment actually backfires. Recycling facilities don't want that kind of plastic, and consider it as "contamination."

It's one of many things making curbside recycling confusing for residents which is why Jarland has revamped the Green Guide to give simpler, clearer instructions.

Jarland reported on the effort to "Recycle Right" to the county board's energy and environmental committee Wednesday.

Even there, she ended up gently correcting someone.

"You have to admit this (no) frozen food box is some kind of revelation," county board member Deb Allan said.

Actually, no.

"It's always been in the guidelines. It's always been in the fine print," Jarland said. Frozen food boxes are typically a hybrid paper-plastic composition.

The new guidelines feature icons, with a circle-slash through types of items not accepted. Recyclers don't want your bag of shredded paper, the pizza box if it has a glob of cheese stuck to it or drinking straws.

"As you can see, there are quite a few more things on the 'do not recycle' list than the 'recycle' list," Jarland said. "People think we are taking something away from them."

But she doesn't want people to become discouraged. She hopes people will keep the new list handy, perhaps taping the sheet up wherever they keep their garbage and recycling cans as a reminder.

Her office will distribute 30,000 copies of the Green Guide to people and churches that have requested them, plus city halls, businesses, libraries, county offices and officials and schools. The "Recycle Right" poster can also be downloaded from countyofkane.org.

Board member Jarett Sanchez suggested a Spanish language version of the recycling guidelines be developed and publicized. Board member Penny Wegman suggested looking at turning the curbside recycling part into a sticker that could be attached to recycling containers.

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