When it comes to recycling, knowing what and what not to throw in those blue bins is important.

According to Fundera/Nerd Wallet, "60% of American consumers order takeout or delivery at least once a week." That's a stunning fact considering that a majority of food service businesses are using plastic containers to package orders. Unfortunately, not every one of those plastic containers makes it to the recycling bin — and that's not the worst thing when it comes to recycling in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

If you've ever used a black plastic container from your takeout, you're doing more good than harm by not recycling.

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There's a fascinating education initiative called Recycle Smart MA that I casually check out every so often to keep up with recycling rules and laws. The clear plastic lids from your takeout, once rinsed and dried, should get tossed into the recycling bin. The bottom half, as long as it's black, should be trashed.

Recycle Smart MA says:

The reason we say no to black plastic is that recycling facilities sort plastics by bouncing a beam of light off them. Since black plastic absorbs light, it can't be sorted and goes straight through the system and off to landfill or incineration. Most current (and past) black plastic use carbon to make the black, which absorbs the beam so the reader can’t identify the resin. The same is true for really dark colors in general (dark grays and sometimes navy).

Perhaps the only resolution is for restaurants to start using paper/wax boxes or other means of packaging that don't involve plastic. In my house, we reuse these black plastic containers for leftovers and food prep to get as much use out of them as possible.

When in doubt, there's a great "recyclopedia" called Can I Recycle This? that will help take away any doubts you have about some items. Like Recycle Smart MA says, "If you can't refuse it, reuse it until it must be thrown away."

The more you know.

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