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Tips on better recycling habits in 2023

Charlotte is already a great recycling city, but we can certainly do better.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — According to a recent survey, 80% of Charlotteans consider themselves an expert or ‘good’ at recycling -- that's 7% higher than the national average.

But we do make mistakes from time to time. So, why not make better recycling habits a resolution for 2023?

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Recycling and trying to be more sustainable are some of the easiest ways to help the environment.

Jeremy Walters, a Sustainability Ambassador for Republic Services, said recycling is easier than you think.

"It's so important that we only focus on the good recyclables," he explained. "When we start talking about plastics and some of the misconceptions around recycling, that's where we see challenges."

Here’s what we should always recycle:

  • Plastic bottles
  • Plastic jugs
  • Plastic tubs

The single biggest problem is flexible plastic – like grocery bags, bubble wrap, and storage bags. 

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Walters said they gum up the machines at the recycling center and oftentimes, the bag and all its contents will get tossed.

"The best thing you can do is just avoid it altogether and bring your own bags to the grocery store," he said.

However, there are alternative uses if you find yourself with extras. Many stores offer drop-off for single-use plastic bags, so that’s the best way to get rid of them.

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Other common mistakes include not rinsing out bottles and trying to recycle cardboard with food waste on it.

Walters said we should look at recycling as reusing material, rather than using energy and resources to create something from scratch.

He added recycling isn't the end-all-be-all to end climate change, but it can have a profound impact on the environment.

Contact Brittany Van Voorhees at bvanvoorhe@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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