Updated: Jul 2, 2019
Many times I have gone to dispose an item and had to ponder if it was recyclable or simply waste. We all know to look for a specific number inside of a triangle. Sometimes you think an item is certainly recyclable and you struggle to even find the triangle. This can lead to frustration to the point of defeat. You might be under the impression that only 1 or 2 can be recycled universally but we have come a long way in the last few years. Loudoun County (for example) has a pretty broad policy for items that can be recycled. There is a single stream recycling process, meaning all items that can be recycled, into the same bin and placed on the curb together to be sorted later. All glass, cans, paper, cardboard and plastic (1-7) can be thrown in the same container to be picked up. It is important to make sure that all packaging is free of food. Save water, bottles do not need to be rinsed out because they will be cleaned when they are processed. Clearly they need to be empty, so pour it out and then toss the bottle in the recycling. Make sure that you are not throwing non-recyclable items into your collection bin. If there are items that are not eligible, it might interfere with the entire process. You could understand why the professionals would not spend time sorting out non-recyclable items when they are tasked with processing thousands of pounds per day.
Loudoun County Residential Recycling Guide: http://online.anyflip.com/cqgx/wkar/mobile/index.html#p=1
If you live outside of Loudoun County and are having trouble finding what items are accepted in your county please send me a message and I would be happy to do the research for you.