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Wish-cycling is the practice of tossing questionable items in the recycling bin, hoping they can be recycled. As much as we all want to reduce waste and recycle as much as we can, wish-cycling is a real threat to the success of our curbside recycling program. 

Have you ever stood in front of your recycling cart with something in our hand, trying to figure out if it should go in? You're not entirely sure whether it can be recycled but you really hope it can. You would rather err on the side of caution than waste, so you toss the item into the recycling and figure, if that isn't where it goes, the recycling facility can sort it out. This is wish-cycling and the reality is, it could cause an entire load of good recyclables to become contaminated trash - and no one wishes for that.

Why is Wish-cycling bad?

When unaccepted and dirty items end up in the blue cart it costs time and money. It can even end up creating more waste. 

When things like plastic bags or shredded paper make it to the sorting facility, they can jam up the machinery. These jams can take hours to resolve and even halt the entire process, preventing any other items from being recycled. All that time spent fixing clogged machinery ends up delaying recycling plant operations.

Recycling programs are successful when they can collect, sort and sell the recycled material. Recycling is done in batches. If a non-recyclable item works its way into a batch, it risks contaminating all the materials which can no longer be sold and could end up becoming garbage.  

What if you don't know?

We're here to help. We have lots of tools to provide you with the information you need. Here are some tips: 

  • Learn the recyclable items of our recycling program. 
  • Try the Waste Wizard tool to search by item name and learn if it can be recycled and where it should go.
  • If you still aren't sure, please contact us. If it's an item we haven't thought of it yet, we can add it to the Waste Wizard to help other residents as well.
  • Lastly, if in doubt, keep it out! We would rather you place an item in your black cart than risk contaminating the recyclables.