Limited plastics being accepted at Cook County Recycling Center

Remember to watch what kinds of plastics you bring to the Cook County Recycling Center – Cook County has stopped accepting mixed plastics after its plastic recyclables broker stopped accepting mixed plastics about a month ago.  Several large bundles of mixed plastics are sitting outside the Recycling Center waiting for a place to go.

Cook County Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson, in charge of waste management and recycling, said that Cook and Lake counties were two of the last counties to accept mixed plastics, which contain plastics numbered all the way from 1 to 7.  Cook County is now accepting only Nos. 1 (polyethylene terephthalate or “PET”) and 2 (high-density polyethylene or “HDPE”).

The good news is that Nos. 1 and 2 account for 80 percent of the plastics Cook County citizens have been bringing to the Recycling Center.

Nelson said, “Numbers 1 and 2 plastics are typically all of the beverage and liquid containers, including soda and juice bottles, milk jugs and the heavier-duty laundry and bleach jugs,” Nelson said.  “The easiest way to identify what number any particular container may be is to look for the number inside of the ‘chasing arrows’ triangle recycling symbol on the package.”  This is usually on the outside bottom of the container.

The caps on Nos. 1 and 2 need to be discarded before being left at the Recycling Center.  They are made with heavier-duty plastic resins that fall within Nos. 3 through 7.  “It is ultimately better for us and the environment if we can recycle as much as we can with clean loads of No. 1s and 2s than to get bales rejected and not being recycled because of having too much of other plastics such as the caps,” Nelson said.