Save water: recycle!

Over the years, we've repeated the mantra “Empty, Clean and Dry,” encouraging folks to dry out food containers so that paper recyclables stay clean.

But what about water—we're in a drought, right? Great news: Recycling is a great way to conserve water.

When we properly recycle materials, we save valuable natural resources, like energy and water, by not having to make new stuff.

Did you know that it takes:

  • 300 ounces of water to make a new can1
  • 47 gallons to make one ream of paper2
  • 1.85 gallons to make one single plastic water bottle3

And you can recycle without having to use water, too! Wiping out jars or using dishwashing water runoff to clean them are simple ways we can make sure all our recyclables have the best chance at a new life. Find out more ways inside this issue→

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31 Days to go Plastic-Free

Sign up for the global Plastic Free July challenge today! You'll join millions of people around the world working to reduce or eliminate plastic pollution with everyday actions. From parties to travel, the site has tips for everything!

A sparkling clean food can rides a wave of fresh clean water

Big numbers from 2021

We get the most questions about how to manage plastic items. Here's a guide to help you sort them:

In 2021, We picked up 30,000 tons of recycling, 62,555 tons of compost, and 46, 440 tons of trash from 65,191 single family homes in the RecycleSmart service area. We also picked up 9.05 tons of e-waste and 14.38 tons of batteries for recycling. Our diversion rate, the percentage of total waste, picked up by Republic Services, that we diverted from landfills, is 67%
empenadas with text that says filling great about food recovery

Where it goes

Our chart shows which plastics can be recycled and which go to the landfill. If containers are empty, clean and dry, soda bottles and lids, water bottles and lids, milk jugs and lids, clean food containers marked 1-7, food tubs (like those for butter or yogurt), empty prescription bottles, and plastic grocery bags, bagged up like a pillow with bags-in-bags, can go in the blue recycling cart. Items like resealable clear plastic bags or bubble wrap can be reused, but when they can't anymore they go in the black landfill cart. Other plastics to throw away include oily or greasy containers of all sorts, crinkly plastic, like cereal bags, plastic utensils, bioplastic cups, plates, and utensils, tear-off filk tops from food tubs, and all styrofoam. A note to the side says say buh-bye to bioplastics

Costco keeps the waste low

A Costco worker wearing a teal face mask holds apples as he sorts food for the store's Edible Food Recovery efforts.

Way to go, Costco! Ever wonder where the store's food waste and packaging end up? At the Danville location, Costco operates its own food waste compactor to help reduce its volume of waste and efficiently process it for collection. The store even has a machine that flattens cardboard for easy recycling!

With the help of dedicated staff who de-package food products and sort the different types of waste, Costco is significantly reducing the amount of waste that goes to the landfill. By ensuring that items are properly recycled and disposed of correctly, Costco's waste streams stay clean. That makes it easier for Republic to collect, too.

In addition to reducing their overall waste, Costco has a food recovery and donation program. Each day excess edible food gets picked up by local food recovery organizations. RecycleSmart and CalRecycle staff who recently visited the facility were very impressed by the operation. Gold star, Danville Costco!

A tip from Rishi G., Moraga

More than a drop in the bucket

A bucket of water being poured on a backyard fruit tree

With the drought still going on, I thought I'd share a tip from my shower.

While the water heats up for my shower, I collect it in a small bucket. The water is perfectly clean because it's straight out of the faucet, so I use it to water my houseplants, garden, and even for my dog!

One more water tip: If I take a bath or soak my feet in epsom salts, I'll use that water in the garden, too. It's good for the plants in small quantities!

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It's game time!