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Creating a Recycling Center That's Right for Your Home

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Creating a Recycling Center That's Right for Your Home Photo © Editor B
A household recycling center can help organize and streamline your storage needs. I frequently see kitchen designers recommending recycling centers as though there was one plan that fit everyone's needs. But this is a case where one size certainly does not fit all. If you want to make your recycling efforts run as smoothly as possible, here are some questions you should answer that will get you headed in the right direction.

Do you have a curbside recycling program?

Curbside recycling is available to about half the U.S. population. If you don’t have access to curbside pickup, you may still be able to take your recyclables to a nearby collection center. You could also see about starting a recycling program where you live.

How often is recycling picked up?

Every week or every other week are common pickup schedules.

What needs to be separated?

The most common type of program is “dual stream” recycling, which requires that containers (plastic, metal, glass) go into one bin and paper products go into another. Some localities, however, are moving to a “single stream” recycling program, in which all recyclables are dumped into one large, wheeled container.

What kind of recycling center do I need in my house?

Knowing the answers to the above questions will help you decide on the best plan for your house. Keep in mind, though, that some localities are moving from dual- to single-stream programs, so you might want to investigate if such a change is planned where you live. Here are some tips:

  • The large wheeled containers used in single-stream programs are generally too big to keep inside the house. You will probably want to store them next to the garbage can.
  • With a single-stream program, since none of the recyclables need to be separated, there is no reason to create space for separate bins in the house. The only separation you need is between garbage and recyclables. You could do this simply by having two colors of wastebaskets placed around the house, which could be emptied as needed.
  • The less often your recyclables are picked up, the more room you need to have to store them. Many communities that change from dual- to single-stream programs are cutting back pickup schedules from weekly to biweekly.
  • A dual stream program requires that you have two bins. Some localities will allow paper products to be placed in a paper bag, which can be set alongside the bin for containers. The small bins can be stored in kitchen cabinets or on shelves around the house.
  • Single stream programs eliminate the small plastic bins that are such common symbols of recycling and replace them with large containers. Many traditional recycling center designs are developed around the small 14-gallon bins, but there's no sense in making room for a bin that is being phased out.
  • Many recycling center designs for kitchens utilize two or three 32-quart bins that fit (lazy Susan-style) in corner cabinets or in slide out drawers. These may be useful for large families with large kitchens, but often these bins are bigger than needed and tie up precious kitchen storage space that could be used for better purposes. It's not necessary to keep your recyclables stored in the kitchen until pickup day. You can keep small baskets or buckets for recyclables in the kitchen, emptying them into larger bins as needed. Standard recycling bins can sit on the floor of a garage, on a shelf in a carport or back porch, under a seat in a mudroom or somewhere else where storage space isn't in short supply.

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