Recycling is vital to the health of the environment -- when it's done correctly. When it's not, recycling costs increase because the value of recycled material plummets and more waste winds up in landfills. Do your part to support recycling by avoiding these common mistakes.

1. Recycling Banned Items

Chances are, you're so used to recycling that you assume nearly anything besides food waste is recyclable. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Here are some items you should avoid tossing into your recycling bin.

  • Magic Markers: Marker barrels might be recyclable, but other components aren't, so you'll need to dismantle the markers before recycling the barrels, according to Crayola. Remove the tips using pliers, and then pry off the end cap with a sharp object such as a box-cutter blade.
  • Sticky Notes: Although 3M, maker of Post-It Notes, has tested its papers and found the dyes and adhesives safe for recycling, not all curbside services accept brightly colored paper. Even if your recycling service allows the adhesive, keep your notes out of the bin if the color runs all the way through.
  • Styrofoam: Many Styrofoam products have the recycling symbol stamped on them, and they are, in fact, recyclable. But probably not by the system your pick-up service uses. Contact the service to be sure, and if you find out you can't recycle it at home, contact your municipality to see if it has an alternative way of managing it. 
  • Glass With No Recycling Symbol: All glass is not created equal. Avoid placing window glass and drinking glasses in your curbside recycling bin.
  • Plastic Bags Holding Recycled Items: Although the bags themselves typically are recyclable, bagged recycling often winds up in landfills because the bags get caught in the sorting equipment and workers can't open them safely, according to Planet Ark. A better alternative is to empty bags into your recycling container.

2. Recycling Dirty Items

Glass containers, food and beverage cartons, and plastic takeout containers typically are recyclable, but not if they're contaminated with oil and food debris. Pizza boxes are an especially big offender, Planet Ark notes. Heavy residue left on recyclable materials -- and food left inside containers -- results in the items going to the landfill. 

3. Throwing Away Recyclable Items

Common household items like cans with lids and spray nozzles, clean aluminum foil, and trigger-spray bottles are all recyclable. Just dismantle the cans by removing the spray nozzles and detaching the lids.

Recycling is second nature for people in parts of the country where curbside pickup is a standard municipal service. By participating responsibly, you help your local program make a more positive impact on the environment. For more information, contact a company like Industrial Services Inc.