Recycling Contamination, ‘’Wishcycling’’ and How to Increase Capture of Clean Recyclables

According to a 2021 survey, while 95% of Americans say they consistently engage in recycling, fewer than half know the basics. Recycling contamination is a significant hindrance amongst the recycling landscape, with “wishcycling”, when incorrect items are disposed of in recycling streams in the hope they’re processed at a local Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), causing more problems than if the same item was placed in with regular household trash.

A lack of awareness around these issues can mean that they are regarded as largely inconsequential, however, the end result of this can significantly impact waste diversion targets with high volumes of recyclables then rejected from MRF’s and sent to landfill.

What are the Main Contributors?

How Can the Capture of Clean Recyclables be Increased?

A progressive number of major cities are adopting zero waste initiatives to develop area-focused recycling programs that aid diversion targets and increase the capture of clean recyclables. Supporting a target of a 50% recycling rate by 2030, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ‘National Recycling Strategy’, published in November 2021, is also the first of its kind to be integrated nationwide, with the reduction of recycling contamination regarded as a central objective.

Reducing recycling contamination, restricting “wishcycling” behavior, and increasing the capture of clean recyclables, can be challenging concepts at community levels. Households will typically involve a diverse level of personal motivations, knowledge of effective recycling practice, and individual circumstances. However, by following simple steps, best practice measures can be encouraged and put into action to achieve these goals, including:

metroSTOR Recycling Infrastructure

Recognizing the challenges for residents in multi-family households and communal neighborhoods, metroSTOR has developed a range of dedicated, user-friendly recycling facilities to ensure effective separation and containerization of recyclables awaiting collection.

Utilizing restricted apertures combined with internal deflector plates helps to reduce contamination and increase capture by ensuring recyclables are deposited directly into the open container and no materials are left around the bins or wind-blown to surrounding areas. A range of recycling graphics offers clear and easy to interpret graphics to make it as simple as possible for users to engage with the facility correctly.

Offering a clean design and visual messaging opportunities that are instantly recognizable and consistent with local or regional streams, the metroSTOR product range provides crucial recycling infrastructure for convenient residential and public locations, providing an effective means to aid capture close to real points of generation.

Dedicated trash and recycling bin stores for reducing recycling contamination