Pizza nights are a common family tradition – over 93% of Americans enjoy the cheesy pie at least once a month. And most of us think recycling the box when we’re done is the right thing to do. We are right, aren’t we? Well, sort of.
If you are an avid recycler, and we know you are, trashing any piece of cardboard goes against your nature. But, placing cardboard and paper soaked in oil,sauce and cheese in the trash is the right thing to do! Food and grease are the most frequent and costliest contaminants in the paper recycling process.
If the top half of the box is clean and salvageable, cut or tear off the clean part for recycling and trash the greasy part. If the extra cheese on your pizza sticks to the top and bottom the top of the box, trash it. It’s better this way!
Please note some cities recycle pizza boxes because their recycling facility is equipped to do so and there is an end market for soiled cardboard. Greasy cardboard may work in some areas, but not in ours. Here, they only contaminate the good material. Find out more about local recycling contaminants here.
Help keep The Woodlands recycling program successful by sharing the 4-1-1- on pizza boxes with friends and family at your next pizza party!
Check out these recycling tips from previous blogs:
As the year draws to an end, we reflect on many things, from the pandemic, to the election, to working from home. 2020 will be a year we won’t easily forget. It will also be remembered as a year when people reconnected with nature, spending more time outdoors. Or a year when we found more creative ways to volunteer and give back: sewing masks, virtual fundraisers for great causes, or even sharing a roll of toilet paper with the neighbors. 2020 hasn’t been the easiest year, but there was a lot of hope and positive messages being shared. Remember all those painted rocks on the pathways?
We want to share some of this year’s highlights from our department. Below are the top 5 most read articles published on The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department Blog in 2020. Maybe you missed this content the first time around or it’s been months and you would like a refresher. Either way, these top-rated reads are worth a review.
1. Heat Loving Perennials
Many people took advantage of being home this year to work on their gardens. Maybe you started a vegetable garden, a pollinator garden or just enjoyed getting your hands dirty and being outside. But for anyone who has experienced a Houston summer, you know that the heat can be brutal, especially for your more delicate plants. Instead of watching your plants wilt or running up the water bill, select native plants that thrive in harsh conditions.
2. Venomous Snakes
Texas is home to over 105 different species of snakes. That may send shivers down your spine, but it doesn’t have to: snakes are one of nature’s most misunderstood creatures, posing little danger and playing a vital ecological role including control of pests. Only 3 venomous species reside in our area. If you’re concerned about interactions, take a moment to review our May Creature Feature.
3. A Guide to Community Service While Social Distancing
Many community events were reformatted in 2020, including The Township’s annual Earth Day GreenUp. With the traditional event no longer an option, many residents reached out asking how to participate in volunteer efforts throughout the community while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Luckily, any day is a good day to pick up litter. If your family wants to help keep our community clean while enjoying the outdoors, this guide is worth a read.
4. Recycling Dilemma #1005: Take-Out Containers
Restaurants were hit hard in 2020 and many of our favorite places were quick to adjust. From curbside pick up to new delivery options, take-out has become one of the safest ways to satisfy our cravings. But, many are left wondering what to do with all the packaging. We’re here to help, with a simple-to-follow guide for all you take-out connoisseurs.
5. Recycling Dilemma #1006 – Online Shopping
Staying home means more shopping online. Avoiding crowds while getting a great deal is just a click away. In 2020 more of us than ever turned to online retailers for everything from paper towels to TVs, and with it came an abundance of packaging in all shapes and sizes: cardboard, packing peanuts, air pillows, Styrofoam and more. We help you solve this recycling dilemma in this quick read.
That’s it! Our top 5 most viewed articles for 2020. Check back weekly for new articles and hot topics in 2021.
The internet is a big place to navigate. If you get lost or distracted easily, sign up to receive a weekly email with the latest from The Woodlands Township Environmental Services. Simply click the button below, enter your email address and be sure to look for a confirmation email. Once you confirm, you’ll hear from us weekly, or until you decide otherwise. However you want to manage your subscription, we will be here, creating new content for you to enjoy.
Paper or plastic? Environmentally conscious shoppers know the answer: none of the above. They know reusable totes beat paper or plastic every time. Forgoing plastic bags at the store has a big impact. But what about all the other plastic packaging in our lives? Film that wraps itself around our favorite snacks, air pillows and bubble wrap mailed to us daily, and newspaper bags magically appearing on our driveway.
While it is most important to reduce our consumption of single use plastics such as bags and film, it’s nearly impossible to avoid these stretchy, sneaky plastics. They’re everywhere. Yet, they can’t be recycled in our curbside carts. They can, however, be easily recycled at local stores.
Are these plastics all foes to the planet, or could they be recycled and reimagined as an eco-friendly material?
The plastic bags and film that you recycle at the store are sold to manufacturers. They take on a second life as bottles and containers, plastic lumber, picnic tables, lawn furniture, playground equipment, recycling bins and more. Trex combines recycled film with reclaimed woods to create a wood-alternative decking and railing used in local parks, pathways and backyard patios.
See how companies like Trex are reimagining plastic film as an Eco-friendly alternative to traditional wood lumber.
Recycle these plastic films if they are clean and dry only:
Air Pillows and Bubble Wrap
Case Wrap, Pallet/Stretch Wrap
Newspaper and Magazine Sleeves
Bags on Clothing or Electronics
Dry Cleaning Bags
Bread Bags, Produce Bags, Food Storage Bags (but NOT frozen food or salad bags)
Grocery/Retail Bags & Other Film Packages
Please only recycle film that is clean and dry. Moisture causes mildew on film and cannot be accepted at stores. For a printable guide, click here.
Plastic bags and film can be recycled at participating locations such as all grocery stores in The Woodlands, the Precinct 3 Recycling Facility and department stores such as Walmart and Target. Look for a receptacle near the entrance or ask staff at the service desk. Please note, during the COVID-19 pandemic, some locations may not be accepting plastics at this time. If either is the case, please collect your bags/wraps at home until events change. Bags/wraps can be compressed and stored inside another plastic bag.
Plastic bags and bagged recyclables are not accepted in our curbside recycling cart program because sorting equipment is not designed to process it without damaging equipment or creating hazardous work conditions for staff. Find more information in Recycling Dilemma #1004 – To bag or not to bag.
Check out these recycling tips from previous blogs:
In 2013, roughly 10 billion Keurig brand coffee pods were sold. Popularity of single serving coffee makers has grown since then and manufacturers of pods are hesitant to reveal how many are sold annually. It is estimated that the amount of coffee pods, or K-Cups, in landfills could wrap around the planet 10 times! (The Story of Stuff) Imagine all the wasted coffee grounds that could be composted and all the aluminum and plastic could have been recycled into new products.
We love the convenience of coffee pods, but it comes with a cost: coffee pods cannot be recycled through our curbside program and are considered a contaminant.Whilesome brands label their pods “recyclable” that holds true only in select communities with coffee pod recycling programs. Currently, those programs are not operating in our region.
Why can’t I recycle them curbside?
Multiple materials comprise a coffee pod: an aluminum top, paper filter, coffee grounds and a plastic cup. Each material must be separated to be properly recycled, a process too complex for the current technology at standard recycling centers.
Although our curbside program accepts plastic and aluminum, both the plastic cup and aluminum components are too small to be properly sorted at the recycling facility. Anything smaller than 4 inches by 4 inches (like a post-it note size) falls through a screen and is landfilled with other small contaminants and residue.
There is a way!
You can recover your coffee pod aluminum by combining it with other clean aluminum into a ball 4” or larger and place it in your cart.
Compost the coffee grounds and paper for a great soil additive.
Take advantage of the one of several mail-in opportunities. These services separate the plastic and aluminum for recycling and the coffee and filter for composting. Check with the coffee pod maker for a free mail-in program. Terracycle, Recycle A Cup, and Grounds to Grow On also provide this service.
Try another brewing method. Some coffee machines are compatible with a refillable K-cup or coffee pod option. French press espresso makers are capable of making smaller quantities of coffee and require no single use materials to brew.
Check out these recycling tips from previous blogs:
Recycling conserves resources, saves energy, prevents pollution and reduces landfill space. We all have the best intentions to do right by recycling, but did you know that recycling correctly is just as important as deciding to recycle in the first place?
In The Woodlands, we have a single-stream recycling program that allows all accepted recyclables to be placed in one container. Bottles, cans, paper, cardboard, cartons and glass can all go freely into one container, no sorting or bagging needed (in fact, you should never bag your recyclables). Because materials are commingled, they must be sorted when they get to the recycling center.
Sorting equipment at the recycling center is designed to sort only the items accepted in the program. All other items are considered contamination. Contamination damages equipment, creates unsafe work conditions for staff and decreases the value of recyclables.
Did you know? In extreme cases, too much contamination can send an entire truck load of recyclables to the landfill.
The most common contaminants to AVOID putting in your recycling cart are:
Plastic Bags & Film – Return these to a local grocery store for proper recycling.
Tanglers – No hoses, hangers, wires, chains or electronics.
Clothing or Linens – Donate usable clothing and linens to local charitable organizations.
Food and Liquid – Recyclables must be clean; remember to empty and rinse all containers. Greasy pizza boxes, paper plates and towels belong in the trash.
Styrofoam or #6 Plastic – Look for the symbol. Only plastics labelled #1-5 are accepted
When in doubt, throw it out! Even better, call The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department for help with recycling right, 281-210-3800.
Please remember to always follow Waste Management guidelines which can be found on the lid of your recycling cart. For more recycling resources, visit the Township’s recycling webpage.