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Circular Economy

Should we sanitize recyclable plastic waste before disposing of it?

19 de July de 2022

This is a very common question when disposing of household waste, especially among those people who are willing to properly dispose of the waste they generate.

 

And what is the answer?

 

The truth is… it depends.

Washing the waste has a social function by mitigating unpleasant odors for the professionals who collect the waste, and avoids disease transmission and the appearance of bacteria. This habit however is not always good for the environment, especially when it is done with drinking water.

This is because the recyclable materials that arrive at the cooperatives, such as PET bottles and others, go through a washing stage and, in some cases, back to the recycling industries.

 

Be aware of exceptions

 

Not all waste need to be thoroughly cleaned before  disposal, but some packaging does require careful cleaning in order to be successfully recycled.

Products with a viscous consistency are a prime example of this, such as shampoos, creams, mayonnaise and other sauces, cooking oils, among others.

This measure serves to reinforce industrial cleaning, which is not always able to completely remove the residues of such products, making it impossible to recycle the packaging. 

It is worth reinforcing when this cleaning can be done with reused water.

 

Sanitizing waste without harming the environment

 

Sanitize waste to avoid flies and odors emanating around the house until the day of collection, and to avoid collectors having to deal with bad smells or coming in contact with bacteria, and fungus, and to ensure that the waste arrives at the recyclers in adequate condition for the recycling process. A good measure is to remove the excess of residual food in the packaging, preferably without using drinking water, and to keep the recyclable waste in closed containers.

 

Using a paper or napkin, even the one you used during your meal, is also a good tip. Now, if only washing is enough, try to reuse the water used for washing the dishes or stored rainwater (a good habit to acquire).

 

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