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How to recycle: What goes in the bin

By Sarah L. Smith
Coastal Observer

Plastics, paper, cardboard and cans.

They’re all recyclable materials, but not all recyclable materials are created equal.

That’s why Georgetown County recycling centers ask patrons to go down a recycling check-list before depositing their products in appropriate bins.

It makes their sorting task easier, which keeps them from paying their vendor, Sonoco, for extra services.

Plastics should be rinsed and lids discarded, said Christa Harden, the county environmentalist and scale house operator.

“If they don’t take the cap off, it slows our process down,” she said. “It’s just a lot easier without it.”

The plastics should also have a tiny number one or two within the recycling symbol.

The numbers represent the type of plastic.

Number one is polyethylene terephtalate, also known as PETE or PET. These are soda and water bottles, and they are usually clear.

Number two is high density polyethylene, or HDPE. These are milk jugs, detergent bottles, butter tubs and toiletry bottles.

When the county picks up the recycled items, trucks take them to the county’s materials recovery facility at the landfill.

Inside the facility, workers sort the plastics, separating number one and two, in an assembly line process.

The county has 14 recycling centers, Harden said, “so we are constantly bringing in materials.”

Before depositing glass in their respective bins, the county also ask patrons to rinse them out and sort them by color: brown, clear and green.

Paper should be separate from cardboard, and cardboard should be dry and flattened.

If magazines and newspapers are left at a recycling center, the county also asks that patrons not bag them.

Like plastics and glass, there are also rules about aluminum cans. Only drink cans are accepted at centers, and they should always be rinsed out.

If there are questions about products that can or cannot be recycled, Harden encourages people to ask.

“We have a center attendant on duty at every center, so they make sure it’s the right material,” she said.

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