Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about reducing, reusing and recycling. If you have an additional question, please contact us.
To learn how to recycle in your community, click here.
Ever wonder how recycling actually got started?
Take some time to scroll through CityLab's "A Brief History of Household Recycling"—an excellent presentation with great visuals, interesting facts and a useful perspective on the timeline of things.
If an item is not on my acceptable item list, and I think it could (or should) be recycled, should I put it in my recycling bin/cart?
No. Putting the wrong recyclables into your bin or cart will contaminate the recycling stream. The materials move quickly on the belts through the Material Recovery Facility (MRF). Machines and people cannot quickly sort all of the unacceptable items, which can create contamination and the recovered items cannot be sold. It’s best to follow the acceptable item list. It’s important to recycle, but it’s just as important to recycle correctly.
What types of plastics can I recycle curbside? Why are some plastics like tubs, trays, and hinged (clamshell) containers not accepted in Hamilton County?
The only plastics acceptable in curbside recycling are bottles and jugs (milk jugs, orange juice bottles, water/pop bottles, shampoo bottles, etc.) Other plastic containers (yogurt cups, strawberry/lettuce containers, sour cream tubs, etc.) are a different type of plastic that is not able to be recycled locally.
Plastic bottles and jugs, in which the body is larger than the mouth, are "blow molded" which means the shape is made by blowing air into a mold, similar to blowing air into a balloon. The other plastic packaging is made in a process called "injection molded," whereby hot liquid plastic is injected into a mold and then removed once it cools and hardens. Blow molded and injection molded plastics melt and cool at different temperatures, therefore are not compatible in the reprocessing stage. We currently only have local markets for blow molded plastic packaging.
What is contamination and why is it bad for recycling?
Any material that is not recyclable that residents put in the recycling bin. This could include yogurt cups, aluminum foil and plastic bags.
Removing contamination is costly for the processors thereby increasing the cost of recycling. Some contamination can even damage the equipment at the materials recovery facility and require the whole plant to be shut down while plastic bags and video tapes are cut off equipment or parts are replaced due to heavy metal objects.
Where do items go for recycling after the hauler has collected them?
Most of the residential recyclable materials that are collected in Hamilton County are delivered to the Rumpke Recycling Facility in St. Bernard, where they are sorted and marketed to end users.
- Newspaper is remanufactured into a variety of materials such as insulation, paper tubes and packaging.
- PETE (plastic)is used for polyester clothing, carpeting and roofing materials.
- HDPE (plastic)is used to make irrigation pipe and drainage tiles.
- Glass is used to make new containers and fiberglass.
- Aluminum cans are used to make new cans.
- Steel is used to make new steel products.
For more information about the Rumpke Recycling Facility, click here.
What are the most common misconceptions about recycling?
- That recycling should be free.
Many people believe that they should not be charged for recycling services because it is "the right thing to do" or because the waste companies are making a significant amount of money from selling recyclables. Although people are making the right choice when they recycle, their recyclables still need to be collected by special vehicles, processed at facilities that cost millions of dollars to build and transported to markets that are as far away as Asia. All of this requires equipment and labor, which translates into cost.
Some recyclables, such as aluminum, have a high enough market value to generate enough revenue to cover the cost of collection, processing and marketing. Other recyclables, such as paper and glass, are of such little value that they may actually cost the waste hauler more to collect, process and transport than they receive from selling the materials. When this occurs, the waste hauler needs to pass these costs on to their customers. The way to increase the market value for recyclables is to purchase products made of recycled-content materials.
- The second common misconception is that if a package says "recyclable" or if it has the "chasing arrows" that it is recyclable in your community.
Not all materials that are "recyclable" are able to be recycled within Hamilton County. For example, there are several variations of PETE (No. 1) plastic, such as small mouth bottles and food trays, yet only small mouth bottles and jugs can be recycled in Hamilton County. This is due to the lack of accessible markets available for PETE food trays. Thus, it is extremely important to find out what materials can be recycled in Hamilton County and purchase products that can be recycled.
- A third misconception is that "recyclable" and "recycled-content" mean the same thing.
"Recyclable" means that the material has the potential to be recycled, but is only recycled after it is collected, processed, marketed and remanufactured into a new product.
"Recycled-content" means the product is made out of recyclables that were remanufactured into new products. Thus, unless we are buying recycled-content materials, we are not truly recycling.
Which Hamilton County communities are most successful in their recycling efforts?
Residents in every Hamilton County community have access to some type of recycling program. This is a great success due to the fact that in 1990, only 50 percent of Hamilton County communities offered recycling programs. With respect to recycling rates, the ten Hamilton County communities with the highest recycling rates in 2015 are:
For more information about recycling in your community, click here
How can I reduce the amount of junk mail I receive?
You can reduce waste by having your name removed from many bulk mailing lists. Write to:
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, New York 11735-9008
Can I put yard trimmings, latex paint, household hazardous waste, or electronics in my curbside recycling bin/cart?
No. These items are not recycled in the same way as items on the acceptable item list. See below questions for more information.
How can I compost my yard trimmings?
You can recycle your yard trimmings at home! Receive a FREE copy of the Yardwaste at Home Handbook from the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services by clicking here to download a copy. This handbook gives valuable information on topics such as composting, vermicomposting and organic gardening.
The Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District also offers residents three Yard Trimmings Drop-off Sites which are available at no charge. Click here for more information.
How can I recycle or properly dispose of my latex paint?
Latex paint is not hazardous and can be thrown away once dry. Garbage collectors cannot pick up liquids so remove the lid and let dry. To speed up this process, add kittly litter or paint hardener. Once dry, set out with your regular trash. Click here for more information.
How can I recycle or properly dispose of my Household Hazardous Waste?
You can receive updated information by checking the Household Hazardous Waste page or by calling the Recycling Hotline at 513-946-7766.
How can I recycle or properly dispose of my electronic equipment?
For information about electronic recycling options in this area, visit this link from our website.
Where can I recycle my plastic grocery bags?
Plastic grocery bags can be recycled at area Kroger, Wal-Mart, Meijer, and biggs locations. Better yet, bring your own reusable bags when shopping.
What three, simple things could any consumer do to reduce the amount of waste put into landfills?
- Buy recycled-content materials.
The only way to assure that recycling programs continue is if there is a market for recyclables. Consumers control the market place for recyclables though their purchasing practices. Thus, when shopping, be sure to read the labels to see if the product is either made out of or packaged in recycled-content materials.
Every community in Hamilton County has either drop-off or curbside recycling available to their residents. In fact, many Hamilton County communities offer these services at no charge to their residents. Yet, in most communities, only 30 percent to 40 percent of the residents choose to participate. If you have these programs and they are offered for free, take advantage of them and participate. Also, if you have access to programs and there is a fee, please still consider participating. The cost of the recycling program, which is between $2.00 and $4.00 per month, may seem expensive. However, recycling prolongs the life of our area landfills. If local landfills run out of space and Hamilton County residents have to ship their garbage long distance, they could easily pay an additional $10.00 a month for garbage collection.
- "Use Less Stuff."
Everybody has extremely busy schedules and convenience items are an essential part of our lives. However, some of these convenient items have a significant amount of excess packaging which is neither recycled-content or is recyclable. When purchasing convenient items, try to select the item which has the least amount of packaging and is packaged in either recycled-content or recyclable materials.