LET'S TALK TRASH: Am I a wish-cycler?

Often people have good intentions to recycle, but try to add waste items which are not acceptable into the recycling process or “wish-cycle.”


Are you a wish-cycler? This question is very important to ask yourself and those closest to you.

Often people have good intentions to recycle, but try to add waste items which are not acceptable into the recycling process or “wish-cycle.”

Wish-cycling is when someone puts items into recycling bins without being certain that the items are actually recyclable. Not all plastic, glass, paper or metal waste items are recyclable.

When non-recyclable items are added to the recycling bins, those items cause the rest of your recycling to be contaminated. Not only do those items cause contamination, but they may be unsafe and may increase the cost of running solid waste equipment and programs.

It is very important to know which recycling items are acceptable, which items are not, and why. It is very important to follow instructions and limit contamination.


If recycling loads contain more than 20% contamination, they may be rejected. The wish-cycling mindset is the main cause for contamination.

Wish-cycling is dangerous! Never put these items in recycling bins: lithium batteries, any electronics, propane tanks, aerosol cans. These items explode and cause fires. This can harm humans, cause damage to structures and cause higher costs to waste programs.

Wish-cycling is a pain for the recycling equipment. Never put these items in recycling bins:

plastic bags, plastic wrap, strings of lights, hoses and extension cords. These get tangled in recycling equipment and cause them to stop and have to be carefully cut out by workers.

Wish-cycling stinks. Never put these items in recycling bins: organics (food and liquids), diapers, and general rubbish. These items will contaminate the other acceptable recycling materials in the load and then all of the items may have to go to the landfill. Make certain items are clean and dry.

How can you avoid wish-cycling? Learn Hubbard County’s recycling rules. Know what can and can't be recycled. Make sure items are clean and dry. When in doubt, throw it out.

Remember to rethink, reuse, reduce and then recycle.

Be in the know before you throw.


Recycling is each of our responsibilities', and when it is done correctly it makes our community a stronger place.

Recycling helps to make waste from our homes and businesses reusable when sold to other companies to create new items or make energy.

Recycling is important as it helps with the following:

  • Reduce the amount of waste filling up our landfills; 
  • Conserve natural resources such as plants, trees, water and minerals; 
  • Reduce pollution and greenhouse gasses by decreasing demand for mining/processing of new raw materials; 
  • Protect our ecosystems and wildlife; 
  • Save money and energy for our community; 
  • Cut climate-changing carbon emissions; and 
  • Provides job opportunities and new industry innovations.

For more information, go to, email or call 218-732-9568
Christina Hill is Hubbard County’s Minnesota GreenCorps member.

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