For most of us across the state of New Mexico, we have a recycling bin that is picked up each week by our city or county facilities. This bin is meant to hold a variety of items that vary by location, but the list typically includes plastics, paper and metal. Unfortunately, there still seems to be confusion not only on what can be recycled, but the right way to recycle it.
Not recycling adds items to the landfill. Recycling incorrectly can add even more. It also causes costly errors to the recycling process because food waste, items that cannot be recycled, and trash contaminate loads of recyclable material, gunk up machines, and can result in entire loads of recyclables being so contaminated that they have to be thrown in with the trash.
This is a wasteful cycle, as it defeats the process of recycling and increases the costs to do so. That’s why it’s so imperative that we focus on how to recycle properly — or “recycle right” — in our communities.
There are a few simple things to remember in order to “recycle right,” and we want to share those tips. That’s why we’ve created a concerted public education effort to do our part to spread the word. My organization, the South Central Solid Waste Authority in Las Cruces, has teamed up with likeminded organizations across the state to create the Rio Grande Recycling Corridor, and we’re starting the conversation on what recycling right looks like to New Mexicans.Here are a few simple tips to follow:
- Empty, clean and dry items get recycled.
Food waste contaminates recyclable
materials. While we live in the
desert and want to ensure we’re not
wasting water, it’s important to give
dirty cans, bottles, and containers a
light rinse before putting them into
your recycling bin.
- Don’t bag your recyclables. While
it can be tempting to bag your recyclables,
plastic bags (and plastic wrap)
cannot go into your recycling bin, as
they get caught in the machines and
contaminate the load.
- Check with your area. We’ve created
an interactive map that tells you
what is and is not recyclable in your
area as an easy reference. To make sure
you’re following local guidelines and
only putting accepted items into your
recycle bins, visit
We’re all in this together, and taking care of our communities and our environment is more important than ever. We encourage each New Mexican to take advantage of the resources we
have provided, do their part to keep the cost of recycling down and ensure sustainable recycling programs statewide.
Patrick Peck is director of South Central Solid Waste Authority and a member of the Rio Grande Recycling Corridor. The corridor is a coalition formed to educate the public on the importance of recycling and how to recycle right.