Don't be a 'wish-cycler'

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is another in a series of recycling tips from the City of Covington's Neighborhood Services Department, Solid Waste & Recycling Division.)

COVINGTON, Ky. – Not to be confused with Jake and Elwood’s sandwich of a similar name, “wish-cycling” is the practice of tossing an item in the recycling cart in the hopes that it’s recyclable – even if you have no clue whether it really is.

(It’s also called “aspirational recycling” or the myth of the “chasing arrows” for the incorrect assumption that if a package or item is marked with that familiar triangular symbol, it must be recyclable. Newsflash: It’s often not.)

While we admire enthusiastic recyclers, wish-cycling has a decidedly negative impact, particularly at the facility that processes the material from Covington’s green curbside carts. The practice costs time and money and sometimes has even worse ramifications.

  • Wish-cycled items that are “unacceptable” have to be removed from the recycling stream and trucked to landfills for disposal.
  • Wish-cycled items can also damage machinery, cause shutdowns and pile-ups, and create safety issues. Plastic bags in particular get tangled up in gears and have to cut away by workers climbing over and on top of dangerous equipment.
  • If too many unacceptable items make their way into baled material, it changes the integrity of the bale and can jeopardize the relationship with the buyer. 

The best solution to wish-cycling? Educating yourself and people around you on what our local recycling stream accepts. Here are some helpful links:

You can also look on packaging labels for the “How2Recycle” symbol … but we plan on telling you all about that in a future “Recycle Right Wednesday” feature.