NEW YORK (PIX11) — When it comes to recycling, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

The rules may vary depending on where you live. And your choices can have major impacts on our planet. Each person generates about 5 pounds of garbage per day, nationwide. Every bottle, every paper, and other material we get rid of is crucial to protecting our environment and the bottom line.

“The less we put into the waste stream, the less residence taxpayers have to pay to get rid of the trash,” said Deputy Supervisor of Brookhaven Dan Panico.

The Brookhaven Recycling Facility is the largest of its kind on Long Island, and it’s operated by Winters Bros. Will Flower is senior vice president of Winters Bros Waste Systems.

“The material comes from people’s curbs, people’s homes. They put it out on the curb, and it gets picked up by a truck and gets delivered here,” he said.

The materials are brought in, sorted, and travel through a conveyor belt. Staff members provide quality control by removing materials that don’t belong. There’s also optical sorting using infrared light to separate items. 

PET bottles like water and soda bottles can be turned into polyester and clothing. Likewise, the cardboard will go back into cardboard manufacturing. Newspapers will be turned back into a newspaper or insulation. Glass can be reused again, metal can be melted down and reused and turned back into new metal products — the same thing with aluminum, according to Flower. 

But consumers must do their part. It’s crucial to our future. Being a good recycler is essential. Just follow these simple tips:

  • Don’t contaminate good recyclables
  • Keep materials dry
  • Rinse out all container
  • Items that can be recycled include:
  • Metal Cans
  • Plastic Bottles and Containers
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Brown paper bags
  • office paper
  • newspapers
  • magazines

Do not recycle:

  • Lithium-ion batteries
  • Food waste
  • plastic bags
  • Polystyrene foam cups and containers
  • hangers
  • medical waste
  • tissues
  • paper towels
  • other paper that has been in contact with food is not acceptable

Check with your municipality for more information. 

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Winters Bros Waste Systems.