So, you think you know the ins and outs of recycling right in Gwinnett County? Test your knowledge with this quick quiz!
Why is it important to recycle regularly and recycle right?
A) Because when manufacturers use recycled material to make new products, they’re able to leave natural resources where they belong — in nature!
B) Because recycling is a major industry in Georgia, and when we recycle right, it helps bring new businesses and jobs to our state.
C) Because contamination — non-recyclable trash in the recycling stream — causes recycling loads to be less usable and sometimes even sent to the landfill.
D) All of the above.
The correct answer is D. Recycling conserves natural resources and helps power Georgia’s economy. Recyclers have to receive enough of the right material, and not too much of the wrong stuff, to be able to sort things out and get them to manufacturers for reuse. We can do our part by being careful to put the right things in recycling and avoid contamination.
What can we put in our curbside recycling bins in Gwinnett County?
A) Everything. When you’re done using anything, it goes in the recycling bin!
B) Anything made of plastic, metal, glass, paper, or cardboard.
C) Only empty plastic bottles and jugs marked with a #1 or #2, empty metal cans, clean paper, and flattened cardboard.
D) Only paper and cardboard.
The correct answer is C. While it’s great to recycle, not everything can be processed by the recycling facility that sorts out our curbside recyclables. To recycle more material, check out all the free recycling drop-off and mail-in options in our directory!
How clean do containers have to be to recycle them?
A) If you’re cleaning out your fridge and find a full (and expired) bottle of milk, put it straight in the bin. No need to empty. Someone else can handle that later!
B) Some globs of peanut butter still in the jar or a half-full bottle of water is okay.
C) You don’t have to run them through the dishwasher or get them spotless, but they need to be mostly empty.
D) They should be spotless and sparkling.
The correct answer is C. There’s no need for containers to be spotless, sparkling, or sterile — but they should be as empty as possible and clean enough to not contaminate other recyclables (like paper) when they get compacted together in the recycling truck. Also, remember that real people help sort out our curbside recyclables, and they don’t want to smell rancid milk any more than you do. If you aren’t willing to take the time to pour the bottle out, it’s better to put it in the trash. A quick rinse can also be helpful to reduce odors.
What should we do with plastic bottle caps?
A) It doesn’t matter. Toss them in the recycling bin loose or screwed on the bottle. Either way works!
B) Screw them back on the bottle before recycling.
C) Remove caps from the bottle and recycle them loose.
D) Remove caps from the bottle and throw them in the trash.
The correct answer is B. Keep caps and lids on the containers you recycle! Loose caps and lids, and other small pieces of plastic, easily fall out of trucks, roll into waterways, slip through recycling sorting machines, and end up as litter or in the landfill. The reason you may have heard to separate caps in the past is because caps are made of a different kind of plastic than the bottles themselves. Today, that doesn’t pose a problem for recyclers, who separate the containers and caps in a washing process where containers sink and caps float. Both kinds of plastic can be used in making new materials.
What kind of paper is recyclable curbside?
A) Anything that comes from trees. Computer paper, magazines, paperback books, shredded paper, waxed paper cups, waxed cartons, paper towels, tissue paper, and technically even toilet paper (ew!).
B) Paper that is intact (not in shreds), not waxed, not contaminated, and not tissue-y.
C) Only paper that has no writing or print on it.
D) None of the above.
The correct answer is B. Lots of types of paper, but not all paper, is recyclable curbside. Paper products that are NOT recyclable curbside include shredded paper (too small), waxed paper cups and cartons (the plastic lining is too difficult to separate from the paper), tissue paper for wrapping gifts (the fibers are too short to be reused again), and paper towels and toilet paper (the fibers are too short to be reused again — also, these products exist to clean up messes and will therefore be contaminated! Yuck!). Please stick to recycling computer paper, magazines, paperback books, mail, magazines, newspaper, Kraft paper, and paperboard cartons like cereal boxes.
What kind of metal is recyclable curbside?
A) Cans, old lawn chairs, chains, a rusty ax, a propane tank, a dented mailbox…any metal, really!
B) Anything made of metal that isn’t rusty.
C) Only certified BPA-free food cans.
D) Only empty food and drink cans and empty aerosol cans.
The correct answer is D. Empty food and drink cans and empty aerosol cans (you’ll know they’re empty when you press the trigger and no more product comes out) are recyclable curbside. Miscellaneous scrap metal needs to be taken to a scrap metal yard for recycling — not put in your curbside recycling bin.
Why isn’t glass recyclable curbside?
A) Glass doesn’t work well in single-stream recycling.
B) There’s no market for recycled glass.
C) It isn’t possible to recycle glass.
D) Wait — glass isn’t recyclable curbside?!
The correct answer is A. Since it easily breaks into shards that fall out of trucks, cut sorting workers, and contaminate other recyclables, glass isn’t ideal for the single-stream recycling model of our curbside program. However, glass is infinitely recyclable, and recycled glass has great market value. We just need to take glass bottles and jars to drop-off facilities to recycle with other glass. Check our directory for locations!
What should we do with old batteries and bulbs?
A) Take them to a store or recycling center to recycle.
B) Put them in the curbside recycling bin.
C) Throw them in the trash.
D) Avoid using them — who needs power or light?
The correct answer is A. Stores like Batteries Plus and Best Buy, and recycling centers like the Snellville Recycling Center and the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials, accept most batteries and bulbs for recycling. Recycling batteries and bulbs keeps dangerous materials out of our local landfills. Batteries contain poisonous heavy metals
such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel. When batteries end up in landfills, they corrode and chemicals can leach into soils and eventually our water supply. In addition, batteries are made of rare materials that are toxic and difficult to mine. By recycling spent batteries, we’re able to reduce the need to mine new raw materials. Bulbs are also important to recycle
, since they can release mercury into the environment when thrown in the trash. Even a tiny bit of leaked mercury can result in long-term environmental damage. Recycling ensures the mercury is properly handled, and almost all components of the bulb can be used again.
How can I help Gwinnett’s recycling system thrive?
A) Call Gwinnett County Solid Waste Management at 770-822-7141 to request a free 65-gallon wheeled recycling cart to collect more recyclables and keep them protected from wind and rain with a lid.
B) Remind neighbors to recycle regularly and recycle right by sharing Gwinnett Recycles’ posts on social media and on neighborhood apps like Nextdoor.
C) A) and B)
D) Yell at people who aren’t recycling right. The louder the better.
The correct answer is C. While it can sometimes be tempting to yell at people — especially friends and spouses — who aren’t recycling right, we don’t recommend it. Instead, be a recycling role model and show how easy it is to help our environment and economy!
Which of the following activities is just as important as recycling?
A) Reducing how much stuff we buy in the first place.
B) Reusing stuff (by maintaining it, repairing it, and shopping secondhand when possible) to keep it useful longer.
C) Composting organic matter, like food scraps and yard waste, to prevent landfill emissions and create healthy soils.
D) All of the above.
The correct answer is D. Reducing, reusing, and composting are just as important as (or even more important than) recycling. Browse our blog for tips and ideas!
Thanks for taking our quiz! You’re well on your way to being an expert at recycling right in Gwinnett. If you’re up for another quiz, see if you can identify all the mistakes in photos of contaminated recycling bins.
About Gwinnett Recycles: Gwinnett Recycles is focused on helping Gwinnett County, the second-largest county in the state of Georgia, reduce, reuse, compost, and recycle more material and keep waste out of landfills and the environment. Gwinnett Recycles is run 100% independently by citizen volunteers. To connect with us and support our efforts, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, subscribe to our newsletter, and consider volunteering with us!
About author Laura
Laura A. Hernandez is the founder of Gwinnett Recycles, a grassroots community organization focused on trash, and is a co-founder of Come Clean Gwinnett, a large Facebook-based community group that empowers citizens to reduce litter and blight. After serving for four years as a Mayor-appointed member of the Sustainable Norcross Commission, Laura went on to become the Chairwoman's appointee to the inaugural Gwinnett Sustainability Commission, which she leads as chair. Laura hates to see anything go to waste and believes that Gwinnett County's nearly one million residents can make a big impact by reducing, reusing, composting, and recycling right.