Millions of Americans take advantage of their local curbside recycling program, which makes it easy for them to recycle common household products. Although participation in these programs has increased over the years, there are still many Americans who choose not to leave their recycling at the curb. Some people who participate in these programs are still unclear as to how they work or what can be left at the curb. To clear up confusion—and motivate people to start recycling—take a look at some of these little-known factors about curbside recycling programs:

Removing Non-Recyclables is Time-Consuming and Expensive

Everyone has had those moments where they question whether or not a certain item should be tossed in the recycling bin. Many people in this situation end up putting the item in the recycling bin because they assume that the hauler sorts through everything before it is processed.

If the hauler fails to remove a non-recyclable item, it can end up contaminating other recycled materials. To prevent this problem, the hauler has no choice but to remove non-recyclables by hand. This is a very time-consuming and expensive process. It’s best to learn what should and should not go in these bins so you can help these hardworking haulers save time.

Curbside Programs Are Either Single-Stream or Multi-Stream

Before participating in the curbside recycling program, find out whether the program is single-stream or multi-stream. If it is single-stream, it means that all household recyclables such as paper, plastic, and glass can be tossed in the same recycling bin. However, if the program is multi-stream, it means that materials need to be separated and placed in separate bins. Some multi-stream programs require residents to separate paper into its own bin, while others require a separate bin for each type of recyclable.

Some Papers and Plastics Cannot Be Recycled Through Curbside Programs

Each jurisdiction has different rules when it comes to what can and cannot be recycled through the curbside program. But in general, it’s important to understand that although paper and plastics are recyclable, some paper and plastic products cannot be recycled through curbside programs.

For example, single-serve coffee cups are usually made out of paper, but they cannot be recycled. The waxed coating on these cups is difficult to break down, so local recycling centers do not accept these items. Other paper products such as napkins and paper towels are usually dirty when disposed of, which means they cannot be recycled either.

There are also a number of different types of plastics that cannot be processed at local recycling centers. Contact the recycling center near you to find out which plastics they are willing to accept.

Items Don’t Have to Be Thoroughly Cleaned

Many people think that items such as jars, bottles, and tins need to be cleaned before they can be recycled. However, this is not necessarily true, so don’t let this misconception prevent you from participating in a curbside recycling program. Recycling centers ask that these items be emptied before they are tossed into the recycling bin, but they don’t need to be spotless. Simply scrape the inside of the jar or bottle to remove the remaining product and toss it into the bin.

Share these facts with friends and family so more people choose to participate and know how to take advantage of the curbside recycling programs across the country.