Rinse, recycle, repeat: making sure items don't get trashed

08/26/2011 9:30 AM

08/26/2011 2:42 PM

Couple of years ago, Roger Lyon remembered reading an article in a popular magazine saying leaving some peanut butter in the jar doesn't matter at the recycling center.

"I remember that article every time I throw one of those in the trash," says Lyon, manager at the Pro Kansas Miller Recycling Center in Wichita.

When to rinse bottles or cans, or whether pizza boxes can be recycled with that oily ring in the bottom, can be subjects of intense debates, around the dinner table and across the Internet.

Lyon says if those items are too dirty, the brokers and businesses charged with actually recycling the materials won't take them. So that peanut butter jar that you meant to be recycled ends up going to the land fill, as sure as if you threw it in the trash.

Good news, Lyon says, it doesn't take much effort to get those bottles, cans and boxes clean enough.

"They don't have to be sparkling," Lyon says. "A little film around the inside doesn't matter."

Lyon said it's tough to describe what's acceptable. He'd rather show you:

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