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Recycling: Myth and Reality

Information from the June 21 Forum


Thank you to our co-sponsors: the Village of Glenview and the Glenview Park District.

We also want to thank our outstanding panelists. You will find links to their information under each name. 


-- Christina Seibert, Executive Director, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC)

-- Mary Allen, SWANCC Recycling and Education Director

-- Javier Erazo, District Manager. Waste Connections/Groot 

-- Jake Kohler, Assistant to Village Manager Village of Glenview

-- Ken Wexler, Park Planner, Glenview Park District

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Presenters (l-r): Christina Seibert, Mary Allen, Javier Erazo


A special thanks to Mary Allen from SWANCC who sent over these responses. 


Q: Can I tour Groot’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)?

A: Due to the closeness of the machinery/sorting equipment and being VERY loud it is easier to comprehend the sorting process and technology by watching the video link provided.


Q: Why shouldn’t a metal shelf be recycled?

A: It should, but not in the recycling cart – as it is not able to be sorted at the MRF.  Put metal items (small appliances, fences, shelving, etc.) out by carts a couple of days before garbage pick up for “scrappers” to take to a metal recycler for recovery.


Q: Are all #5 plastics acceptable?

A: NO, not all #5 plastics are acceptable in the recycling cart – only bottles, jugs, jars, or tubs.  Look for special drop-offs for other types of plastics.


Q: Should we recycle the covers on the plastic tubs – yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.?

A: NO – they are garbage.


Q: Do beverage bottles need to be rinsed out?

A: Only the ones that are not water.


Q: Can bottles/cans be wet with caps on for recycling?

A: It is best to have materials be dry – shake moisture out.


Q: Can you provide more information about the numbers on plastics?

A: Each number on a plastic item represents the resin that it has been made from.  As explained up above, plastics are petroleum-based but the chemistry or polymers in each varies.  Labels are misleading, so please do not refer to the numbers.


Q:  Why is there no market for all plastic not recyclable in the cart?

A: Plastics are not created equal – different chemistry properties or polymers.  Some are of “quality” to reprocess and make into new containers.  Some is low-grade and does not translate well into being made into new containers.


Q: How does so much plastic end up in the ocean?

A: Mainly, other countries dumping garbage into the water as waste management practices, cargo containers fall off of ships during storms, blowing litter from land, litter that gets into sewers that lead to larger bodies of water.  Check out


Q: Can I recycle small pieces of paper, like Post-It-Notes?

A: MRF technology cannot sort small pieces of paper. If you have larger Post-it-Notes, stick them to a larger piece of paper before putting them in your recycling cart.


Q: What type of paper cannot be recycled?

A: Wrapping paper that is foiled or flocked, tissue paper, napkins, paper plates, paper cups.


Q: Can Tetrapak cartons be recycled?

A: Yes, milk, soup, wine, juice cartons and boxes are recyclable.  Empty and rinse, no straws – and put the cap back on the carton when possible.  


Q: What happens to paper that is shredded at events?

A: The vendor takes the shredded paper back to their facility where the truck is emptied and immediately baled for market.  It does not go on the sorting line at the MRF.


Q: Why are single-use paper, cups, etc. bad?

A: They are a convenience item that requires a natural resource to be manufactured.  When possible, use reusable items that can be washed and used again, again, and again – REDUCE! These paper products cannot be recycled in your cart, so if you are unable to compost them, they are landfilled.


Q: How do you recognize when a food box or container is lined in wax?

A: Generally, the inside of the container is shiny as compared to the outside non-shiny – you can rub a fingernail on it to see if a residue scrapes off.


Q: Can floppy disks, CDs, DVDs be recycled?

A: Yes, but not in the recycling cart!  There are mail-in programs, more information in the Reuse and Recycling Directory at


Q: Are “regular” batteries still being collected.  Can they be thrown away in the trash?

A: Alkaline chemistry batteries are benign to the environment and are allowed to be put in the garbage.  However, SWANCC’s Battery Recycling Program accepts them.


Q: How do I dispose of fluorescent light bulbs?

A: If you live in a SWANCC-member community, check with your Village or City to see if this program is being offered.  Household Hazardous Waste facilities accept mercury items – more information at


Q: How do I recycle corks?

A: Visit for a collection location near you.


Q: How do I recycle toothpaste tubes?

A: This is a unique item that Terracycle is working on.  Visit for their Waste-Free collection boxes, some have a fee.


Q: Is Patriot Acres Composting Facility an existing entity?

A: The company has applied to the IEPA for an operating permit.  The Village of Glenview staff is better suited to add a comment to this question as an investigation is underway.

In addition to the weekly recycling pickup by Groot, electronic waste may be recycled at SWANCC's Glenview Transfer Station, 3 Providence Way, Des Plaines, IL 60016. The facility is on the east side of Des Plaines River Road, just north of Central Road, directly across from Maryville Academy. DROP OFF IS ONLY ON SATURDAY 9:00 A.M.-11;30 A.M. Accepted electronics are listed in


If you are a Northfield Township resident, electronics (and other) recyclables may be dropped off at the Northfield Township Road District, 237 Melvin Drive, Northbrook, through October 28, 2022,    Accepted materials are listed at

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