By Lauren Pastrana

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – This Friday, November 15th, is “America Recycles Day”.

Each year, Americans recycle roughly 87 million tons of materials, and that number is growing.

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So kudos to those of you doing your part!

But, according to Waste Management, nearly 25 % of items put in recycling bins aren’t actually recyclable.

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Today’s “Lauren’s List” reviews some of the things you should NOT be recycling!

  1. Plastic bags – It’s not that used plastic bags and wraps can’t be recycled into new materials, but you can’t just toss them in your usual curbside bin. They require a different collection system and processing equipment. But it’s also really important to avoid simply trashing them. Plastic bags are among the most common sources of marine debris, where they can be mistaken as food by birds and fish. Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, meaning it will take hundreds of years for them to decompose in a landfill.
  1. Polystyrene and foam containers – Americans throw away a whopping 25 billion Styrofoam cups each and every year. Again, they *can* be recycled and repurposed, but not in your curbside bin. Call your recycling center to see if you can drop off your foam containers. Placing Styrofoam in the recycling bin will contaminate the whole bin, so it’s important that all Styrofoam is placed into the general waste bin. Or, maybe reuse your foam containers a few times if possible.
  1. Used paper goods – I’m talking about paper plates, cups, cardboard pizza boxes, paper towels, and tissues. While it’s nice that you want to recycle everything you can, dirty paper products don’t recycle well. So leave the greasy pizza box in the garbage can. And cut down on paper waste like this by sticking to actual dishes and cups that can be used time and time again.
  1. Certain plastic containers – This is where it gets tricky. You might think, but recycling plastic is good. It’s what I was always taught to do. But even if a container is recyclable, what was originally kept in that container may not belong in your recycling bin. Specifically, don’t recycle plastics that formerly held oil or other flammable liquids because they pose special problems during the recycling process, including creating flashpoints and changing the chemical composition of plastics.

Are you guilty of any of these recycling “don’ts”?

Tell me on Facebook or Twitter.

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Lauren Pastrana