Don’t Blame Non-Recyclers for Not Recycling

25 April 2022

Don’t be mad at people who don’t recycle, they may have actually worked in a mixed/single stream recycling facility. Or they may know someone who does. They may know about the worker who was crushed and killed in the Albany, NY mixed recycling facility, when he was trying to pull plastic contaminants from the machinery. Or maybe the non-recycler actually worked on a sort line (no, all sorting is not done by machines).


Maybe the non-recycler worked in a facility where he saw first hand the mixed recycling mess be burned or landfilled. Maybe he was a sort line worker who got stuck by a needle, resulting in six months of HIV testing. Maybe while on the sort line he was exposed to soiled diapers or cat feces or horrible smelling milk jugs or rotting food.


Mixing unlike recyclables together has made recycling very unpleasant and dangerous work, as well as lowering the value of the materials collected, and eliminating transparency. It takes a lot of energy to try to clean up the mixed recycling mess. It’s time to return to safe, sorted, transparent, community oriented recycling programs, that keep workers safe and provide end-users with good quality feedstock.


Louise Mann

Signal Mountain

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