Can I Recycle That? ♻️

By Siew Ching

Not too sure if you can recycle that empty bag of chips? Find out once and for all.

You know paper, plastics and glass are all recyclable but there are some that make you go hmmm, I wonder if I can recycle that and if so, how – used oil, batteries, metal, plastic bags, that used paper wrapper for your roti canai…

It is important to get it right as putting in the incorrect item can pollute an entire section of recycling so we are here to clear the confusion! Here’s a summary of what’s OK and what’s not:

Glass Bottles
Most glass bottles are good for recycling – soft drinks, pasta sauce, jam jars. But if you are clearing your kitchen and decide to recycle an old set of drinking glasses, hold on to those as not all can be melted down and reused. Best thing to do is wrap in newspaper or bubble wrap and label it clearly for the waste disposal crew to decide what to do with it. Also, take note that broken glasses shouldn’t be recycled even if they are made of recyclable materials simply to protect the people handling your recycling waste!

Coffee Cups
Done with your morning brew and going to recycle it to do Planet Earth a favour? Great – except make sure your coffee cup is recyclable! There are some with a plastic waterproof lining inside which can’t be recycled at all. Most cups should have the recycling symbol at the bottom so you know those ones are safe. Or do the right thing and bring your own travel mug to refrain from single-use cups.

Plastic Bags and Plastic Containers
What you need to know is that not all plastics are equal. While most plastics are recyclable – like plastic caps and plastic bottles – some are not acceptable. For example, plastic bags shouldn’t be put in the recycling bin because they often get tangled in the machinery at the recycling plants. Pack them all up in a box and label when discarding so they go to the right places. Used plastic food containers are mostly recyclable but do wipe off all the grease or if you can give it a wash before putting it in the bin. Also for plastic utensils and straws – most are not recyclable which is why we recommend refraining from using them. Like everything else you are not sure of, gather them all up and put them in a labelled box to discard.

Yes, these are recyclable but not in the way you are used to. You can’t just throw batteries into the recycling bin as they require special handling. Again, collect them in a box and label before discarding. There are centres that accept batteries and old electrical equipment (known as e-waste) for recycling so you can consider dropping these off there. You can also consider dropping off old light bulbs that don’t work.

Packaging Waste
With all the online shopping Malaysians have been doing lately, we are definitely swimming in bubble wraps and cartons! Thankfully, all those paper boxes your shopping came in are recyclable. Unfortunately, bubble wrap and the plastic film that cover your items can’t go into the recycling bin because they too can get tangled in equipment. Gather them up and put them in a labelled box for waste disposal.

Old Clothes
Decluttered and now you have bags and bags of clothes you don’t need anymore? Ever seen those yellow big boxes around town where you can drop your fabric recyclables? Do that! Textile and fabric waste should be treated differently than your usual recyclables. But first, why not donate it to a shelter? After all, the golden rule of sustainability is to reuse before you recycle.

Paper used for food packaging
Burger wrappers, pizza boxes, roti canai paper – are these recyclables? Well, not all. Boxes that are made of 100% paper can go straight to the recycling bin after you wipe the grease away but some food wrappers have a plastic film over them and these are not recyclable. The best thing to do if you’re planning to do a takeaway from your favourite mamak? Bring a tiffin carrier that you can use over and over again! The environment will thank you.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash.

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