New policies such as no plastic straws or increasing the price of plastic bags have been implemented in Malaysia over the years to reduce the effect of environmental pollution. Social media has helped in creating awareness towards environmental pollution, and slowly, some vendors have replaced some plastic items with other alternative materials, especially paper-based products.
Whether you start practising recycling habits due to the influence of social media or as an honest initiative from the bottom of your heart, these actions do help the environment – except that not all of your good deeds are for the better. Malaysians’ lack of recycling awareness may lead to unhealthy recycling habits unconsciously and this should be changed. These are the types of rubbish that you shouldn’t dump into recycling bins!
1. Paper/Take-out cups
These cups are actually not made entirely of paper despite being called paper cups. There is a plastic lining within the cups that makes them waterproof, or else they wouldn’t hold water… see what I did there. Currently, separating the plastic lining from the paper cups is so difficult that no known recycling facility in Malaysia is capable of doing so. So, don’t throw your coffee cups and cups from fast-food chains into the recycling bin!
2. Pizza boxes
You might think that they are made of cardboard, so they should be disposed of as recyclable trash. Unfortunately, these boxes are contaminated with grease and oil. Recycling facilities do not accept contaminated rubbish because they produce low quality recycling products. In fact, they are unusable. If the cover is not contaminated, you can tear it apart and recycle the uncontaminated part.
3. Tissue papers
Basically, the reason behind used tissue being recyclable is the same as pizza boxes. We use tissue papers to clean ourselves, like blowing our noses, wiping grease off our lips, and not to mention the lipstick stains. They have to be disposed as general waste due to contamination.
4. Paper straws
People think that paper straws can help to reduce the effect of pollution since the ban of plastic straws, although some vendors still serve them. Unfortunately, they may leave more harm than you think. They cannot be recycled as they have been contaminated with food, so don’t dump them into paper bins. Fortunately, like pizza boxes and tissue paper, they are biodegradable.
Mirrors may be made of glass, but due to the reflective coating, they are no longer recyclable. If they are in good condition, donate them. If it is shattered, collect the pieces and have them wrapped in newspaper so you won’t injure the collectors.
6. Plastic bags
To the surprise of many, plastic bags are not accepted by recycling facilities despite the fact that they can technically be recycled. So far, Malaysia recycling facilities do not accept plastic bags because they can get tangled on the equipment. Although they can be removed when entangled, it would cost more money and time, so they outright reject plastic bags in the name of low cost and time consumption.
7. Used toiletries containers
Unless you clean the containers before recycling them, recycling facilities do not clean them for you before being recycled. And if they are mixed together with other containers, the products can no longer be used, wasting more resources in the end.
Now that you know these particular types of rubbish cannot be recycled, you should dispose of them correctly and not just put them into the recycling bin! Help save the environment by properly disposing of them. Of course, reducing the use of disposable items is always a better solution.
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