A home recycling center is an effective tool for keeping your recyclables out of the trash. That means it needs to be convenient and easy to use.
Before Getting Started
Before setting up a home recycling center, Iowa State University suggests taking a look at local regulations to find out what your recycling facility will and will not accept. Learn their mandates for sorting, cleaning, and containing the recyclables you turn in.
Choosing Primary Location
Where should you put your home recycling center? That depends.
Adequate space is critical if you don't want recyclables spilling onto the floor or being tossed in the trash once the recycling area is at capacity. In planning the amount of space you'll need, consider the average person recycles 1.5 pounds per day, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
How often the recyclables will go out - whether you have curbside service or drive them to a plant - is another factor relevant to how much space is needed.
The more convenient the location chosen, the more likely you are to follow through on your recycling resolve. So if a simple set-up like two bins in the kitchen is feasible, go for it.
Subsidiary locations may be helpful, depending on the size and composition of your household. Put two small trash baskets side by side in a child's bedroom, for example, one for paper and one for everything else. This means no sorting when emptying the bedroom trash.
Two considerations dominate the container choice: requirements of the local recycling plant and the amount of weight you're willing to carry.
Paper can usually be stored directly in a plastic storage bin or in paper bags or boxes. Plastics generally go into a plastic bin. Flattening boxes and plastic bottles maximizes your space.
Color coding, labeling, or affixing photos on containers may help young children get each recyclable into its proper container.
An all-in-one mechanical compaction system might be useful if you're not on a weekly recycling schedule. Greenhead says the latest compactors can crush and store both cans and plastic bottles and contain separate bins for paper recycling.
Batteries, electronics, printer cartridges, and Styrofoam aren't accepted with the regular recycling. Electronics represent a growing segment of the waste stream, EPA says, while batteries containing heavy metals have no business in landfills. Styrofoam is "the eco-enemy," Sierra Club says, with serious health and environmental effects linked to its degradation. Planning space for these items in your home recycling center is an important first step toward recycling them. Since they are fewer in number than regular recyclables, go to different destinations, and require less frequent removal, store them out of the way.