Recycling Responsibly in Porter County – What Can and Can’t go in that Big Blue Bin?

Recycling Responsibly in Porter County – What Can and Can’t go in that Big Blue Bin?
By: Curtis Hankins Last Updated: July 23, 2018

Everybody recycles these days, drawn in by the convenient allure of that big blue bin easily placed on the sidewalk that whisks away your recyclable waste for processing and reuse. It is a fantastic trend, and many people are even left wondering, “Why can’t I recycle more kinds of things?” The good news is you can! Electronics, batteries, and even smoke detectors can all be recycled in Porter County– with just a couple extra steps.

The blue recycling bin in just about every modern home is a convenient way for a family to reduce their overall waste. There is only one problem– not all recyclables can or should be placed in the bin for curbside recycling. For example, plastic grocery bags are recyclable, but the standard processing line for bin recycling cannot handle the bags because they cause damage to the recycling facilities machinery that ultimately comes back as a cost to the taxpayer. Learn about where you can drop-off plastic bags at www.plasticfilmrecycling.org. Grocery stores like Jewel-Osco and supermarkets like Meijer or Target usually accept all types of plastic bags and films.

“I was confused by it and I think a lot of people are confused by it,” said Donna Stuckert, Public Education Coordinator for Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction. “They see that it’s recyclable so they want to throw it in their bin. Their heart is in the right place because they think there should be more things that are recyclable. So I say yeah, there are a lot of things that can be recycled. You just can’t put all of them at your curb.”

Household batteries are not fit for curbside recycling as the facility cannot process them. They can, however, be dropped off at a tremendous number of locations across Porter County. Various schools, like Chesteron High School or Hebron High school will take them, as will many fire departments or police stations. Some hardware stores like Ace will also gladly dispose of your batteries.

One of the more common items people are surprised to find out is not recyclable curbside anywhere in Northwest Indiana are disposable plastic Solo cups, usually red or blue in color. The material they are made from Polystyrene is technically recyclable, but is not accepted in Lake, Porter, or La Porte Counties. Another big thing to avoid is placing electronics on the curbside, as legislation from 2011 made it illegal. Valparaiso and Portage’s street departments collect curbside electronics, but for other Porter County residents, a visit to your local compost site is the go to option to avoid breaking the law.

Porter County residents might be most surprised to learn the one of the most exotic items in their house is actually their smoke detector. Many use a small amount of radioactive material called Americium-241 to detect smoke. As a result, they are considered a hazardous material not fit for curbside recycling. To offer a solution, Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction partnered with the most sensible organizations for this problem, local Fire and EMS departments. Chesterton, Porter, Valparaiso, Hebron, and more fire departments all accept unwanted smoke detectors. Visit www.portercountyrecycling.org/smoke-detectors to learn all the details.

Recycling is an essential community service, and a vital way of extending the planet’s finite resources. Learn all there is to know about recycling in your community at www.portercountyrecycling.org.