Just remember the 4 E’s: Recycling is an easy way to positively contribute to your community. It protects the environment by conserving energy and natural resources.  It helps the economy by cutting disposal costs and generating revenue for your city or town, and it creates jobs. In fact, according the U.S. EPA, for every one job in disposal, there are five jobs in reuse and recycling. And by recycling right, we help each other by keeping recycling workers safe and preserving precious landfill space for future generations.

No! We know that nobody’s perfect. If you stick to these rules of thumb (even if you forget any exceptions to the rule!), you’ll recycle right 95% of time, and that’s fantastic. When it comes to recycling, we all make mistakes sometimes, and that’s OK. Our state-of-the-art sorting system is designed to handle mistakes, but lately we’ve been getting A LOT of trash mixed with recycling. When trash levels in the recycling get too high and/or items that are very dangerous to our workers and our equipment wind up in the recycling, that’s when an entire load of recycling can be rejected and sent to the landfill.

Virtually any material has some recycling potential, but potential isn’t enough. There has to be a company out there who’s willing to buy it and turn it into something else. If there’s no company willing to buy it and recycle it, then by definition, it is not recyclable. And even when there is a company, we still have to be able to get that material to them in the condition they require, in the volumes they require, and on the schedule they need. We compete with other recycling facilities for these markets. This also means that the better job each of us does sticking to the rules of thumb for recycling, the higher the quality of the product RI can produce, and the more competitive RI can be.

RI’s Material Recycling Facility is designed to process as many of the most common household recyclables that we all tend to use on a weekly basis, as it can. It can’t possibly sort out every material and product in today’s world! Most of us find ourselves left with with paper, cardboard, and various containers for consumer products each week. Our Materials Recycling Facility can sort most of these safely, accurately, and efficiently. That being said, there are many other materials that can be either repaired, repurposed, reused, or recycled (meaning they don’t need to be landfilled) but, these are items that we go through once in a while. For items like plastic bags and film, textiles, scrap metal, and big, bulky plastic items, you can just set them aside for an occasional collection or drop-off.

No. Believe us, we wish it were that simple, but manufacturers make it confusing by using this symbol on their products no matter where they are sold and no matter what it actually means! It is often used as a frame around the number that indicates which plastic resin was originally used to create the product, and sometimes just to indicate that the product was made from recycled materials — it does not mean you can recycle it in Rhode Island. The only way to know what to recycle in Rhode Island is to download our guidelines or watch our how-to videos.

Contrary to what many people think, we (RIRRC) are not the people picking up your waste and recycling. Your city or town (or property manager if you live in a larger apartment complex) is responsible for your bins, carts, and collection.  In some cases they provide the service directly, and in other cases, they hire a private waste hauling company to do this for them.  Any time you have a question regarding your bins, carts, or collections (including special item collections), please contact your Department of Public Works.

Check out this virtual tour of RI’s Materials Recycling Facility and see for yourself! You can also sign up for one of our public tours, book a private tour for your community group, or book a field trip for your class.

RIRRC is currently updating RI’s Comprehensive Solid Waste Master Plan, and is looking into what our state’s options are once the Central Landfill reaches capacity.   Remember that alternatives to disposal in our landfill are very expensive — whether it’s shipping our trash out-of-state or building a waste-to-energy facility. Reserving landfill space for materials that are non-recyclable is the common sense thing to do. When you reduce the amount of trash you make, reuse materials whenever possible, recycle right in your bin or cart at home, and set other materials aside for occasional collection or drop-off, you are helping to extend the life of our landfill. This is good for our environment, our economy and each other.