By Sarah Lawton

Every time you finish unpacking groceries in Los Angeles, do you give your recycling bin a little pat on the lid? It’s a routine for many Californians – toss the plastic produce bags in, flatten the to-go container, and feel good about doing your bit for the environment.

But hold on a minute – are you sure everything you’re tossing in there is actually recyclable? Turns out, navigating LA’s recycling rules can be trickier than assembling furniture from IKEA. And to make matters worse, LA Sanitation keeps changing the rules, leaving us scratching our heads about what goes where.

Lately, they’ve tightened things up even more. Now, only plastics labeled with codes 1, 2, and 5 get the green light for recycling. All other plastics? Straight to the trash. It’s enough to make your head spin. So, here’s a quick guide from LA Sanitation & Environment (LASAN), and a summary of what the codes mean:

  • Code 1 (PET Plastics): Think soda bottles and peanut butter jars.
  • Code 2 (HDPE Plastics): Milk jugs and shampoo bottles are a go.
  • Code 5 (Polypropylene Plastics): Deli soup containers and yogurt tubs – recycle away!

Clean paper, metal cans, and glass bottles are all fair game for the recycling bin too. But that greasy pizza box? That’s where the compost bin comes in. Since 2023, it’s been mandatory for all of us Angelenos to have one. Don’t comply? Prepare for a fine.

Coffee grounds, eggshells, and even those napkins with a bit of sauce on them – all perfect for composting. But here’s the kicker: those “compostable” utensils? Not so much. Despite the label, they go in the trash because they need special conditions to break down properly. And those flimsy plastic bags from the grocery store?  Toss ‘em in the trash. They don’t have the necessary properties for easy recycling either.

As we tackle the ins and outs of waste management, let’s keep striving for greener solutions.

Need a quick guide to help you sort it all out? Check out this  guide from LA Sanitation & Environment (LASAN).

Now go ahead, give your recycling bin a hug – just make sure it’s filled with the right stuff.