Are You Recycling or Wish Cycling?


When you toss something in the recycling, do you know that it’s recyclable, or are you just hoping that it is?

Putting something in the recycling because you hope it’s recyclable is called wish cycling, and it’s actually bad for recycling.

Here are four things that can happen when you wish cycle instead of recycle:

  1. It takes longer to sort recycling, which costs recycling programs more money.
  2. Items that are recyclable, but not through your curbside pickup — such as electronics — never get recycled. Instead, they end up in landfills.
  3. Other items that are recyclable, but not through your curbside pickup — such as plastic bags and extension cords — jam and damage sorting machinery.
  4. Recycling is most economical when people recycle only clean materials that can be sold to make new goods. So when we recycle only what is accepted, it keeps down the cost to run our recycling program.

Also, just because an item is recyclable somewhere does not mean it belongs in your recycling cart in Stockton. Not every item can be recycled curbside in every community.

Why is that? Different communities have access to different recycling facilities, and each facility is capable of processing a different set of items. Most facilities, for example, process paper, cardboard, aluminum and steel cans, glass bottles, and plastic #1. Additional accepted items vary by location.

Here in Stockton, we accept a wide range of materials, but not everything can go into your recycling cart. Use our comprehensive Recycling Guide for specific steps on how to recycle any item. Oftentimes, items that can’t go into your recycling cart can still be recycled or reused — it just takes one extra step on your part to find out how.

And remember: When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t throw it in your recycling.