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Recycling 101

Paper, plastic, and pizza problems

by Patricia Muhammad

HOMEWOOD, Ill. (March 1, 2018) – Modern-day recycling began in the 1970s for the purpose of reusing paper and plastic products. Today, more than ever before, recycling is an environmental initiative designed to manage literal tons of business and household products. Recyclable items include bottles, cans, cartons, glass, and more.

Lansing’s recycling and garbage disposal is managed by Homewood Disposal, located in the Village of Homewood. Their website explains, “Another one of our wonderful neighbors, Lansing, Illinois, is a village we are proud to serve. Homewood Disposal provides household garbage, yard waste, and recycling services to Lansing residents, as well as a full line of rental dumpsters for temporary cleanup projects. As a business that cares about the communities where our customers live, work, and raise families, Homewood Disposal also serves as a member of the Lansing Chamber of Commerce.”

Rules for recycling

Not everything can be recycled by every recycling company. Megan McElligott-Laxton is the Education Coordinator for Homewood Disposal, and she explained some common problems.

No plastic bags

“The number one problem we have right now is plastic bags,” she said. “We do not want plastic bags in the recycling facility. They wreak havoc on our machines, wrapping themselves around the equipment; and slowing down the machine.  Each day, twice a day, we have to stop the machines to go in and cut all the plastic bags (this includes plastic wrap) off of our equipment.” 

McElligott-Laxton says plastic bags are a problem for many Material Recovery Facilities. She encourages people to return plastic grocery bags, newspaper bags, bread bags, and wraps that come from cases of water to the grocery store where they have receptacles specifically for this.

No pizza boxes

Many people think cardboard pizza boxes can be tossed in their Homewood Disposal recycling totes—but this is incorrect. McElligott-Laxton explained, “Once any grease gets on the box, it is contaminated. If a greasy pizza box or soiled paper plates end up together in a bale of cardboard, then the entire batch is ruined.”

No shredded paper

Because of its size, shredded paper ends up becoming a contaminant. The pieces are too small for the sorting equipment to capture and place with the other paper. “Shredded paper also often ends up in with the glass,” McElligott-Laxton commented.

Other “no’s”

Other common things you should NOT throw in your Homewood Disposal recycling tote include: aerosol cans, mirrors, window glass, dinnerware, clothes hangers, motor oil containers, plastic straws, hard plastic packaging, prescription bottles, light bulbs, bubble wrap, garden hoses, computer parts, ink cartridges, wood, food waste, household batteries, and car batteries.

One more tip

“Another thing we like to mention is to please leave the lids on your bottles (water, juice, etc). If they are loose, they end up contaminating the glass. If they are attached to the bottle, they can be recycled,” McElligott-Laxton said.

Things you can recycle

There are plenty of household disposables that can be recycled instead of tossed. Recyclable items include: newspapers, books, envelopes, magazines, brown paper bags, cardboard boxes, cereal boxes, jars, jugs, bins, tin, steel cans, aluminum cans, pie tins, glass bottles, cardboard egg cartons, five-gallon buckets, takeout containers, and juice boxes.
For a complete list of recyclable items, visit the Homewood Disposal website:


Patricia Muhammad
Patricia Muhammad
Patricia Muhammad is a contributing writer for both The Lansing Journal and the South Holland Shopper. She enjoys writing stories about events, people, and places she feels would interest local residents—such as the Lansing Car Show, Super Teci's benefit, Water's Edge, and Recycling 101. She is also a published author of three children's books: Princess Feldings & The Academy of Queens, Prince Hasmir High Seas Adventure, and When Jaguars Roar.


  1. Why are prescription bottles not recyclable? Is it because of the adhesive on the labels? I peel mine off. I know adhesive on labels can cause issues too. Secondly, I don’t need my personal information from those labels out there for anyone to see.

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