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Trash that Styrofoam, and other tips to fight ‘wishful recycling’ will be covered in online discussion Monday

Speak Of... Wishful Recycling

via Zoom, Monday, Feb. 14 at noon


Iowa City’s 65-gallon recycling cart (with blue lid). — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

As with so many other aspects of life, good intentions aren’t enough when it comes to recycling, and good habits can stop being good when circumstances change. Consider the case of plastic clamshell containers, the kind used for take-out food.

Iowa City recycling bins used to welcome the containers. But that stopped in December 2020, after COVID-19 changed the way everyone lives — and eats.

“The pandemic has caused a significant increase in the use of clamshells by consumers, which negatively impacts the quality of materials processed by plastic recycling companies,” the Iowa City Department of Resource Management explained in a statement at the time. “Pre-pandemic quantities of clamshell plastics were processable because they were a low percentage of the overall plastic mix with no significant impact on the recycled plastic purity.”

But plastic clamshells still find their way into recycling bins, as well-intentioned people try to be responsible and recycle everything stamped with a recyclable symbol. It’s an example of “wishful recycling,” and at noon on Monday, Feb. 14, Iowa City Recycling Coordinator Jane Wilch and Climate Action Engagement Specialist Sarah Gardner will host an online discussion about it.

Speaking Of… Wishful Recycling” will be a casual discussion about how to figure out what to recycle and what to toss in the trash — the basic rule of thumb is if you’re not sure, put it in the trash — and Wilch and Gardner will answer questions from participants. The event will be held via Zoom, and registration for it is already open.

Lists of what can go in a curbside recycling bin and what can be dropped off at the city’s recycling centers are available on Resource Management’s recycling page.

Courtesy of Iowa City Recycling

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