Breaking down recycling: Are you doing it right? Helpful tips, links & ideas

Our country has incredible beauty, including warm beaches, majestic mountains, vast plains and intricate deserts.
Unfortunately, we humans do not always take great care of the things we have, including mother earth.
One way to help our planet is to recycle: Waste reduction and recycling can make a difference.   

ORLANDO, Fla. — Why Recycle? 🤔 “Recycling helps preserve natural resources and save energy that we would use to manufacture things from virgin materials. It also helps reduce pollution as well as saves money related to the cost of disposal by cutting down on the amount of trash we throw away,” Earth911.com wrote.

Recycle electronics: Southeastern Data pick up or drop off

But many Americans get frustrated and confused about the rules of recycling, which vary according to where you live.
Did you know you can recycle plastic shopping bags at many grocery stores, including Publix?

Interactive: Recycling plastic bag drop off search

In Central Florida, each county has their own set of rules. WFTV.com has broken them down for you, per county, with helpful links to answer further questions you might have about recycling.

The information below was obtained via each county's website:

Orange County uses the “Think 5” method, focusing on the top five recyclable items.
Place only these recyclable items in the roll cart with the blue lid:
Plastic: Bottles and containers labeled #1 - #5
Metal: Tin, aluminum, steel, and empty aerosol cans
Glass: Bottles and jars
Cardboard: Flattened corrugated boxes

Paper: Newspapers and advertisements, paper bags, junk mail, magazines and catalogs, office/note paper, phone books cereal/shoe/drink boxes, milk/juice cartons

Resources: How to recycle misc. items | What the county doesn’t accept

Osceola County uses the single stream recycling method, meaning recyclables go in ONE can.
Remember: The recycle container is for recyclables ONLY. No garbage or yard waste.
- All your recyclables (paper, plastic, metal, cardboard and glass) go into your recycling cart.
- DO NOT mix garbage with recyclables.
The following items ARE accepted in the curbside recycling program:
- Pasteboard (i.e., cereal boxes, empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls, soda boxes, beer boxes, tissue boxes, gift boxes, pizza boxes and shoe boxes)
- Brown paper grocery bags (no wax, no wet strength material, no liners)
- Corrugated cardboard (flattened and cut down to fit inside the recycle bin)
- Newspaper, supplements, magazines and catalogs
- Box Board, Carrier Stock, White and Colored Paper
- Plastic Containers #1-7 (#'s on bottom of containers) Remove all lids
- Glass bottles and jars (clear, green and brown) Remove all lids
- Aluminum cans
- Steel cans and tin household containers, such as food cans
- Telephone Books
*Please rinse out all containers and discard lids

These items ARE NOT included in the curbside recycling program: Plastic bags, plastic cups, paper cups (wax lined), paper plates (wax lined), motor oil or pesticide containers, light bulbs or drinking glassware, aluminum foil or pie plates, paint or pesticide cans, electronic devices, styrofoam trays/egg cartons.

Visit: Seminole County website for more information

The county separates regulations per household products.

Click accordingly to read about each one:

Kitchen products | Office | Laundry | Bathroom | Mailbox | Misc. items NOT recyclable

Volusia County uses the “dual-sort system,” meaning it uses two bins: one for paper materials and one for plastic, steel, glass and aluminum containers.
Newspapers and other fiber materials: Fiber items are to be placed in your fiber materials bin. When recycling cardboard boxes please make sure they are broken down and flat.

Paper materials: Newspaper inserts including glossy pages, mixed office paper, junk mail, magazines, corrugated cardboard boxes (no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet), cereal boxes (no liners) and snack boxes beverage cartons,gift boxes.

Glass bottles: All colors of glass (green, amber and clear) may be placed in your bin. Please remove lids and dispose of them in your regular garbage.
Aluminum/steel cans: Recycle all aluminum and metal beverage and food cans. Aerosol cans also may be recycled but be sure they are empty. Remove plastic tips and tops before recycling.
Plastic: Plastic containers coded 1 & 2 are accepted in your curbside recycling. Please remove caps and lids before recycling. Some plastic bottles that can be recycled include soda, juice, milk, medicine bottles, soap, bleach, shampoo, hair spray, alcohol and peroxide.
* Rinsing cans and jars helps reduce odor and discourages pests, such as ants, from invading your bin.
Polk County contracts with Advanced Disposal Services and FCC Environmental for residential curbside collection:
- Aluminum cans, tin/steel cans, tin or aluminum lids
- Clean cardboard.
- Plastic jugs (HDPE plastics) Translucent color only. No clear or colored plastics.
- Newspaper or uncoated paper.
*Keeping recyclable materials dry and free of grease, soil and residue is the best way to ensure success.
Marion County Solid Waste operates 18 recycling centers throughout the county that accept both recycling and household garbage. Residents who live in unincorporated areas of the county pay an annual assessment fee to utilize the recycling centers at no additional cost, but also have the option to contract with private franchise haulers for curbside pickup and other services.
Paper - Approved types of paper that can be recycled consist of non-glossy or coated products, such as office paper, newsprint, magazines, envelopes, phone books, unwanted mail and paper bags. Paper should be free of hard bound or hard covered books, metal or plastic bindings and placed loose inside of the Lake County yellow recycling bin.
Cardboard - Cardboard consists of corrugated (moving boxes) and boxboard (cake or cereal boxes). Cardboard should be free of anything other than corrugated and boxboard materials, and should not contain packing or packaging materials, strapping, shrink wrap or wax coatings.
Mixed Containers - Comingled containers consist of rinsed glass beverage containers (any color), aluminum beverage containers, steel and tin cans, and food grade household plastic containers #1-#7 with or without a neck. Lids are fine. Plastic soap containers (dish, laundry, carwash, etc.) are considered food grade and are acceptable. Place items loose in the Lake County yellow recycling bin.
Lake County Recycling Carts - Recycling are obtained through the recycling hauler. To have bins delivered, call Lake County Solid Waste at 352-343-3776. For more information on recycling bins, accepted items and more, please call the Customer Service Line at 352-343-3776.
Sumter County does not provide recycling pickup services.
Flagler County: WastePro offers curbside recycling in Flagler County once a week. 
Paper and Books: YES: All office paper, white paper, colored paper, newspaper, magazines, catalogs, phonebooks, junk mail, paperboard, tissue boxes, manila folders, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, unwaxed food packaging, shredded paper, soft cover books, hard cover books (with the cover removed), paper coffee cups, un-foil wrapping paper, brown paper bags.
NO: Napkins, tissue paper, paper towel, wax paper, foil wrapping paper, basically any paper that can be contaminated with bodily fluids.
Cardboard (All cardboard should be broken down and should not exceed 2' x 2'):
YES: Corrugated cardboard, clean pizza boxes (no grease contaminants, food and wax paper removed), boxboard (ie: shoeboxes, gift boxes, cereal and pantry boxes)
NO: Cardboard lined with plastic, any waxed or waterproof cardboard.
Metal (All containers should be rinsed): YES: Metal and tin beverage containers, metal and tin food containers, clean aluminum foil, aluminum take out containers, aluminum pie plates and trays, kitchen cookware (ie: metal pots, tins, utensils, etc), empty aerosol hairspray cans.
NO: Motor oil cans, metal and cardboard containers, paint cans, pesticide aerosol cans.
Glass (All glass should be rinsed): YES: All glass food containers, jars, beer and wine bottles. Please check with your local hauler to see if they accept colored glass.
NO: Light bulbs, mirror glass, window glass, ceramics, crystal.
Plastic: YES: All plastics 1-7 (with the EXCEPTION of polystyrene or Styrofoam which is sometimes labeled #5), food and beverage containers, screw top jars/containers (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, etc), deli-style containers, take out containers, plastic cups (remove the straw) milk and juice jugs, soap bottles, shampoo, laundry detergent, all other plastic jug or bottles, plant containers (if it is labeled on the bottom with a 1-7), cd/cassette/dvd cases.
NO: Plastic baggies, plastic tableware, Styrofoam containers of any kind, grocery sacks (most grocery stores will take these back. Ask Customer Service if there is a drop off for plastic grocery sacks).
*In general, the advice is that if it has a recycling number code on it, put it in the recycling container. If it is not accepted at the recycling center, they will send it to the landfill.
Resources: Website | Recycling brochure