Do's and don'ts of recycling: "Recycling gives new life to all types of materials"

GERMANTOWN -- Brian Kramp spent the morning at Waste Management on the plastic and paper lines to show what and what not to recycle -- not only everyday, but specifically during the holidays.

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Plastics are effectively being recycled at a rate of 2.4 billion pounds per year in the U.S. Doing so helps conserve fossil resources and saves landfill space. Plastic bottles are shred into flakes used for filling in sleeping bags, fleece jackets, carpets and insulation, while jugs and tubs are readily recyclable into new laundry detergent bottles, pens, picnic tables, fencing, and recycling containers.

The code number on the bottom of plastics and bottles is commonly mistaken as an indicator of a product's ability to be recycled. In actuality, this number only indicates the chemical make-up or type of plastic used in the product. Not all types of plastics can be recycled. Today, it is best to recycle by shape: all bottles, jars, jugs and tubs, as those materials are most likely to be made of plastics that truly can be recycled.

Approximately half of all soda cans, food cans and other aluminum products are recycled each year in the U.S. The environmental and economic impacts of these actions are enormous.