Rethinking Recycling with ReWorks

by Marcie E. Kress, Executive Director, ReWorks

It’s that time of year when we tend to generate a lot more material that we want to recycle – from packaging and wrapping paper to plastic films and bags. Many of these things, however, do not belong in your home recycling cart.

Placing items in your home recycling cart that you want to be recycled is called “wishcycling” and it can cause a lot of problems, from contaminating materials that are recyclable to damaging the equipment at the Material Recovery Facility where all the items go to be sorted and baled. While the intent behind wishcycling is for more materials to get recycled, it often has the opposite effect.

You can help minimize contamination by placing the following items in your home recycling carts. Items should be clean, dry and not bagged:

  • Cardboard – flattened
  • Paper – not shredded
  • Cartons – empty and rinsed
  • Metal food and beverage cans – emptied and rinsed
  • Plastic bottles and jugs – no lids

This holiday season we hope the below tips can help minimize temptations to wishcycle:

  • Think through disposal options when purchasing items. Is this something that can be reused? Once it is no longer usable can it be recycled? Where can it be recycled?
  • Avoid collecting plastic shopping bags that don’t belong in your home recycling cart by opting for paper bags when possible or by carrying reusable bags with you.
  • Many packaging/wrapping options are not recyclable. Try to select reusable wrapping options for gifts like bags, boxes, fabric, tins, etc. When possible, opt for materials that can eventually be recycled.
  • Save holiday bows and ribbons to be reused. If they’re not reusable, dispose of them in the trash.
  • Old string lights and metal decorations that are no longer usable may be accepted at scrap metal yards. See if one near you is accepting them. If not, dispose of them in the trash.

ReWorks, the solid waste management authority for all Summit County, provides programs, services and community outreach on waste reduction, recycling and other materials management strategies. For more information, visit or call 330-374-0383. Email us at

Marcie E. Kress, Executive Director, ReWorks

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2711 West Market St. Unit 13620, Fairlawn, OH 44333 • 330-374-0383

Opinions and claims expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of ScripType Publishing.